Friday, June 28, 2013

My Hiding Place


Psalm 139:7-10
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast.

Allie, our sweet kitty, is no spring chicken.  As she was a stray when my husband, Danny, took her in, we're not sure exactly how old she is, but her increased inactivity belies the behaviors of an aging cat.

To be sure, Allie still moves about, but her gait is slow and measured.  She loves to wake me in the morning (not my favorite thing) when she is ready to be fed.  She does wander the yard from time to time, upsetting the squirrels who scold her mercilessly.  But, Allie never gives chase.  She seems content to simply watch the activity at our bird feeder from the vantage point of our deck.

What Allie does best these days is sleep.  Her only decision to make?  Where to snooze!  I can find her in any number of places, napping blissfully.

















Mysteriously, though, there is one place to which Allie retreats for nap time which I have yet to find.  Honestly!  I look everywhere I can think of, peering into every reasonable corner of the house.  No Allie to be found!  Where in the world is she hiding?

Only Allie knows, and she's not talking.  I wonder if I'll ever find her secret sleeping space . . .?
~
Allie may be able to hide from me, but she certainly can't hide from God.  As the psalmist says, "Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?"

Nowhere.  Absolutely nowhere.

I take such comfort in this:  Knowing that my Lord and my God is with me no matter where I am or what I'm doing.  Knowing I'm never alone.  Knowing that His grace and His love are there at the ready, at all times and in all places.

I can't hide from Him.  But, in Him, I find my hiding place.

~

How does knowing you cannot hide from God affect your relationship with Him?

Will you pray with me?
We are so thankful, Father, that You are with us always through Your Holy Spirit.  May knowing that You are always present give us peace and comfort in times of trial or times of joy.  May our relationship with You grow stronger every day.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

If You Can't Stand the Heat . . .


John 8:7
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

By now, I'm sure most of us have heard the news about Food Network super star, Paula Deen.  She admitted in a deposition involving a lawsuit against her brother to having used the "N" word in the past.  The media reacted to this as if Paula had dropped an "A" bomb on an unsuspecting populace.

Clearly, any high-profile person needs to be particularly mindful of what comes out of their mouths.  And, I'll be the last one to condone labeling anyone of ANY ethnicity with a derogatory term.  But, honestly, can any of us claim we have never said or done something which we shouldn't have?  Things which we later came to regret?  Is there anyone of us out there who has not harbored a grudge, a misconception, or a prejudice against people who appear different from us?

Paula may have celebrity status, but, like the rest of us, she is only human.  She makes mistakes.  She, like everyone of us, is far from perfect.

Yet, there are those lined up with stones in their hands, gloating because the mighty have fallen. (2 Samuel 1:19)  Pointing to the speck in Paula's eye without first removing the plank from their own. (Matthew 7:5)

There are four reasons why I choose to come to Paula's defense.

She told the truth.  Paula did not have to admit to her shameful behavior in that deposition, but she chose honesty over saving her own skin.  For that, I admire her.

It happened in the PAST.  I have a closet which I call my "BBC" - Before Becoming Christian.  It contains more skeletons than Ezekiel saw on that dry, dusty desert.  (Ezekiel 37:1-11)  Do you have one of those, too?  I say Paula's past, and mine, are behind us.

She apologized.  Paula issued a video which you can watch here in which she publicly apologized for her indiscretions.  You can take this as being sincere or not, but she did say she was sorry.  I believe her.

She asked for forgiveness.  In this same video, Paula also asks for forgiveness for her past behaviors.  To ask forgiveness means one accepts the fact that one has sinned.  When Peter ask Jesus how many times he should forgive another, "Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'" (Matthew 18:22)  I forgive her.

But, not an hour passes after the release of this video when Food Network tersely announces that they will not renew Paula Deen's contract when it expires next month.  Boom!  Just like that!

Guess they couldn't stand all that heat in their kitchens . . .

~

Have you ever said or something which you regretted saying or doing?  Did you ask for forgiveness?

Will you pray with me?
Help us, Father, to always remember that not one of us is perfect, that we all sin and fall short of Your glory.  We thank You for sending Your Son, Christ Jesus, to die for our sins and forgive us our transgressions.  May we ever be quick to forgive others when they have wronged us, and to ask forgiveness when we have sinned against another.  Amen.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Seeking Shelter from the Storm


Luke 8:24
The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we are going to drown!"  He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.

"Time to hit the bunker!"  Danny shouts as we scramble for flashlights and purses, and head for the basement of our house.  The storm is upon us!  Barreling down the stairs, we hear a roar of wind and a deafening crash beside our home.  The earth shudders.

What fell???  Large limbs?  An entire tree?

Darkness!  The power is out!  Flashlights provide comforting beams, helping us to find the battery-powered lantern which we keep our laundry room, our underground safe-place when the southern spring storms hit.

We hunker down.  We can hear the rain pummeling the windows and roof.  Lightning flashes and thunder booms like a hundred cannons.  But, the wind has already passed by, flying on to wreak havoc upon our neighbors.  To leave a tell-tale trail of debris in its wake.

Thankfully, the lights flicker back on.  We breathe a sigh of relief, but are left wondering about the damages inflicted upon our forest.  There isn't much we can properly assess as it is growing darker and the rain continues to pour.

In sharp contrast to the night before, the next day dawns sunny and clear.  I take my camera out into our yard to capture images the war zone.


Our deck is one heck of a mess!



Look at all these leaves smothering the moss.






The wind ripped through our tulip poplar, scattering limbs like matchsticks.




But, it's this poor pine tree which suffered the most . . .

And, looking at all this damage, I say a prayer of thanks that we and our home were spared from harm.

Travelling  along this journey called life, we are guaranteed to go through any number of storms.  As Pastor Wallace is fond of telling us, "Sometimes, God reaches down and calms the storms in my life; other times, He says, 'Wallace, this is a good storm.  Let's ride it out together.'"

We are reminded here that no matter what storms we face, Jesus is always there with us.  He is the shelter we seek.  The safe harbor.  The hand holding ours.

We are never alone in our trials and troubles.  If we trust in the Lord, allow Him to carry us, those threatening, raging storms will eventually subside, and all will be calm.

~

Are you facing a "storm" in your life today?

Will you pray with me?
We thank You, Father, for walking with us through the storms of life.  You give us hope and courage and strength when we can find none in ourselves.  When we trust You, we can know that nothing which happens to us on earth will ever separate us from Your great love.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow?


Luke 12:27
Consider how the wild flowers grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

We love living in our home nestled in the forest.  Especially in summer, when all the leaves are out, the shade from the blistering Georgia sun is a welcome respite.  I can sit on our deck, even on a 90 degree day, and be comfortable.

But, there is one drawback.  Our vast leaf cover prevents us from planting a garden.  And, not many plants prefer shade over sun.  So, we are limited in our choices.

My husband, Danny, brings these beauties home two weeks ago.  I set right to work getting them potted and watered.  I know.  Just five plants.  But, they are enough to bring some color and cheer to our back deck.

Begonia Red Dragon Wing





New Guinea Impatiens





Golden Creeping Jenny



Yes, this last one doesn't look like much now, but this is what we're eventually hoping for!



I'm content with our tiny garden.  I look forward to watching our plant babies grow and continue to blossom throughout the summer.  If all goes well, they should last until our first hard freeze late in the fall.

And, as I see how God has dressed these delicate blooms in splendor for us to enjoy and admire, I am reminded that we, too, need not labor nor spin to be beautiful in His sight.  He created us to be in relationship with Him.  He loves us not for what we do, but for who we are.

His beloved children.  

~

Will you take a moment today to simply "be" with the Lord, your God?

Will you pray with me?
Thank You, Father, for the wonder and splendor of Your magnificent creation. Let us always stand in awe of Your grandeur and power.  Thank You for loving us so much that you sent Your precious Son, Jesus, to bear the weight of our sins so that we can be in relationship with You.  Amen.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Love and Grace


1 Timothy 1:14
The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

At last!  It's here!  The third and final book of The Glade Series!  As I open one shipment box, I am consumed by the same delicious thrill I have when I first hold books one and two, A Trip, a Tryst and a Terror and Children in the Garden.







The books.  The stories.  All together.  All in print . . . WOW!

In all those countless days and weeks and months spent in writing The Glade Series, how the grace of the Lord was poured out on me abundantly!  Never once did I feel at a loss for words.  Never once was I uncertain of God's presence.  Never once did I think that some way, somehow, some day, these books would not be published.

I had faith.  Faith that this was God's plan.  Faith in the promise He spoke to my heart.

I had hope.  Knowing this was a story He wished me to tell.  A story of grace, of love and forgiveness.  His story!

Because, as young Davy learns through his adventures with the Old Ones, this life is all about God's amazing grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love.  That's it.  Pure and simple.  No ifs, ands, or buts.

And, do you see the invitation to visit my author website at the top right-hand corner of this blog?  I do hope you will accept it.  I would be honored if you would choose to read my books, and I do welcome your feedback always.  You can even send an e-mail to me right from the website.  Convenient?  I'll say!

Now, a new venture begins for me.  God is calling me to continue writing about the escapades of Davy, Grey/Racer, Reverend, and all the other characters to whom you've been introduced in The Glade Series.  After writing devotional blogs for over two years, this will be a change of pace and a new challenge.  Yet, it is one I accept willingly.  Without hesitation.

God is beckoning.  How can I resist?

So, dear friend, I leave you with this:  the dedication in The Moment of Truth which I wrote for my granddaughter.



May all YOUR adventures, too, be happy and blessed.  And, filled, ever and always, with faith and love and grace.

~

When has the Lord abundantly poured out His grace on you?

Will you pray with me?
We thank You, Father, for the creative gifts You have given to each of us and for Your love and grace which sustain us.  May we stay strong in our faithfulness to You, to Your Son, Christ Jesus, and to the Holy Spirit.  May we ever seek to do Your will and walk in Your ways to the honor and glory of Your name.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Everywhere Fun Fair!


Matthew 22:37-39
Jesus replied:  "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" 

Our church, Kennesaw United Methodist, just completed a fabulous, fun-tastic week of Vacation Bible School.  Entitled "Everywhere Fun Fair," the program enthralled the children with energetic songs and a wide variety of activities which taught them all about what it means to love their neighbors.

My partner, Marcia, and I were blessed to work together with our sweet group of kindergarten kids.  We were their "shepherdesses" every morning, guiding them to snack time, Bible story, missions (where they learned about our church's outreach activities), crafts, science, and games.  The two teens assisting us were absolutely outstanding with the children, making our time with them even more enjoyable.

Each day had a theme which described the aspects of a good neighbor.  The young people learned that "neighbor are:  friendly; giving; bold; forgiving, and welcoming."  And, each day, the children learned a part of the scripture quoted above.  so, by the end of the week, even our five-year-olds had a good grasp of the concept, "love your neighbor."

Truth be told, I don't know who had more fun that week, the children or the shepherdesses!  In fact, after the first morning as we are sitting in one of the nursery rooms for our reflection time, and waiting for parents to arrive for pick up, a little girl asks me this question:

"Is this your work?"

Bingo!  Without a split second's hesitation, I answer, "No, this is my play!  I have so much fun at VBS!"

And, I do!  Even though this summer's session has just ended, I'm already looking forward to next year.  What joy it is to share God's love with His beautiful, amazing children!

~

Have you ever volunteered to help at a Vacation Bible School?  What was your experience like?

~

As you scroll through these photos taken by Pastor Emily, will you say a prayer over each person you see?  They are, after all, your neighbors!








































Love and blessings to these little ones and to you all!
Amen!

Pray!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ...