Friday, May 30, 2014

"Say Grace?"


Matthew 15:36
Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people.

One practice we keep at our dinner table is to ask God's blessing over our food before we dig in.  We hold hands, bow our heads, and my husband, Danny, leads us in prayer.

Lately, our granddaughter, Virginia Rose, has been spending lots of time with us during the week so her mother can visit with little sister, Savannah Jane, in the hospital.  This means that she is sharing many dinners with us and has readily acclimated to our tradition of saying grace.

One afternoon when Danny is working at home, we all get an unexpected snack attack.  I decide to go for the unhealthy, but tasty, chips and dip.  But, Virginia asks for her latest favorite food.

"Papa!  Make me a Papa Burger, please?"

That's the name she's given to Danny's hamburger sliders which he serves on a water roll.  Needless to say, we get a big kick out of this.  Danny now jokingly calls our kitchen "The Orlando Cafe - Home of the Papa Burger.





When he finishes making the burger for Virginia, he serves it to her.  I'm already seated at the table, munching away.  Danny then decides to make a Papa Burger for himself.

As he sits down and prepares to eat it, Virginia looks at me and then at him.  She stretches out her little arms toward each of us.

"Say grace?"

Are we ever caught with egg on our faces!  Because we all sat down at different times, it didn't cross our minds to say anything but a silent thanksgiving, something I always do before I take that first bite.

Of course, we stop everything to take her tiny hands in ours.  With heads bowed and eyes closed, Danny asks the blessing.  When he is finished, Virginia declares, "Good!  Now eat!"

And, we do just that!


~

Is it a tradition at your home to say grace before meals?

Prayer:  Just as Your Son, Jesus, gave thanks to You for the food You so graciously provided in the miracle of the loaves and fishes, may we always ask Your blessing over every meal, large or small, giving thanks in all things.  In Jesus' name we pray, amen.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"Just Lay on Your Back And Float . . ."


Matthew 14:28-30
"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
"Come," he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"


When the tides of life turn against you,
And the current upsets your boat,
Don't waste those tears on what might have been.
Just lay on your back and float.
~Ed Norton (Art Carney), The Honeymooners episode:  Safety Award

My parents love watching the television series, The Honeymooners, when it first airs in the 1950s.  They don't miss an episode!  Years after it goes off the air, Mom discovers that one of our local stations shows reruns late at night once a week.  She tunes in religiously and, sometimes, gets my Dad to stay up past his bedtime to join her.

So, when VCRs arrive on the scene and videos of old movies and television shows flood the stores, my brother, Bill, and I are delighted to see that The Honeymooners episodes are once again available.  What great birthday and Christmas gifts these make for our parents who enjoy watching them over and over!  They even introduce these to their grandchildren who take to them like ducks to water.

And, I'm privileged to see and truly appreciate these ingenious shows for the first time, too.  I can't begin to tell you how many laughs we share when watching these as a family, and how many times either Mom or Dad would quote from one of the episodes when the saying fit the present situation.

A few nights ago, my husband, Danny, turns in early because he has to get up at 4:45 to go to work.  I'm not sleepy, so I grab my headphones and access YouTube.  I'm feeling nostalgic, so I decide to watch a Honeymooners.  The one I settle upon is Safety Award.

I laugh!  Loudly!  But, I tear up when I see how Ralph's pride leads to adversity.  Every.  Single.  Time.


Norton's comforting words, quoted at the beginning of this post, are not in the least appreciated by Ralph in this story.  He is so hyped up on his own glory of winning the award for the safest bus driver of the year, he can't deal with anything which, seemingly and senselessly, interferes with getting his accolades.

Like Ralph, Peter is not to be outdone.  Tossed in the storm with the other disciples, his pride propels him to ask Jesus to help him walk upon the choppy sea.  The Lord speaks one word.

"Come."

And, Peter, overly confident in his own ability,  unable to "lay on (his) back and float," fails to trust Jesus enough to successfully approach Him.  The Lord has to physically rescue Peter from his peril and panic.

Don't we all have a bit of Ralph and Peter in us?  We face adversity or danger.  Our every intent is to focus upon Jesus' saving grace.  But, the next thing we know, we are not floating on His promise, but floundering in our own doubts, wondering how the Lord could possibly help us.  Mistakenly assuming that we, and our efforts, are sufficient.

Wrong!

When the tides of life turn against us?  Trust in Jesus.

When the current upsets our boat?  Trust in Jesus.

Don't waste the tears!  Trust in Jesus.

Lay on your back and float . . .

Jesus is calling,

"Come."

~

I know I've had my share of "Peter/Ralph Moments" when I've failed to trust completely in Jesus.  Have you had one of those?  Maybe, more than one?

Prayer:  Father, we are so grateful that, through Your power and glory, we can take the seemingly ordinary, like a television show, and allow it to inspire us to see the extraordinary message You wish to give us.  Continue, we pray, to grant us this gift.  To see Your miracles in life's simplest things.  To love as You love.  To inspire as You inspire.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Crazy Sand!


Isaiah 64:8
Yet you, Lord, are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

In my earlier post which you can reference here, my granddaughter, Virginia Rose, and I go shopping to get a special gift for her and her brand new baby sister, Savannah Jane.  Virginia has her heart set on something called "Crazy Sand."  It's been advertised regularly on television and, I have to admit, it does look like a lot of fun.

When I inquire about this product at the toy store, I'm told they don't carry it.  Don't carry it???  I'm afraid Virginia will be so disappointed, but when I tell her I'll have her Papa order it online, she seems satisfied with that.

The very first thing Virginia does when we get home is tell my husband, Danny, her Papa, that he needs to order her Crazy Sand on the internet.

"I can't believe the store didn't have it," he remarks as he opens his Amazon tab and begins the search.

"I can't either," I say.  "Maybe, it was on of those T. V.-only offers."

Danny locates a sand box made by Brookstone and places the order.

This is what we imagine will arrive -



This is what's actually delivered - 


What???  No sand?

"There was nothing I saw when I ordered to box to indicate that sand wasn't included," Danny fumes.  "That's misleading advertising, for sure."

But, knowing how much his granddaughter wants this toy, Danny places a special order for just the sand itself.  When all is said and done, he's spent $30 on the sand box with its sundry tools and another $30 on the sand.  Talk about sticker shock!

The rewards, however, are priceless.  The day the Crazy Sand arrives, I have Virginia with me.  She can barely contain her excitement!

"Open it, Gammie!  Open it!"  she shouts gleefully, hopping up and down and clapping her hands.

I readily comply.  And within minutes, Virginia plunges her eager hands into the sand which keeps her delightfully engaged for hours.















Watching Virginia playing so happily makes me think of the joy God must have taken in Adam as He molded and shaped him from the earth.  Creating him in God's own image.  Breathing the breath of the Holy Spirit into him.  Beaming like a proud parent as Adam came to life.

And, that creation process continues even now.

For we are, each of us, lumps of living, breathing crazy sand which our Father, the Master Potter, continues to shape and form as we grow in His Spirit.  Jesus' teachings reveal how we should live in order to show that we are, indeed, made in the Father's image.  And, the Holy Spirit continues to guide us along the path of righteousness.

~

How is the Master Potter shaping you?

Prayer:  We are so grateful, Father, that You created each one of us in Your image.  Let us be the clay in Your potter's hand as You mold and fashion us to be more and more like Christ Jesus, loving You and loving our neighbors as ourselves.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Band of Brothers (and One Sister)


1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

As many of you know, my husband, Danny, leads our band, Crossroads, in the contemporary worship service every Sunday at Kennesaw United Methodist Church.  We have played with our bassist, Rob, and our drummer, David, for eight years.  That's a long time to be with the same folks!

But, it's been a blessed time for all of us.  Through these many years, we have shared our joys and sorrows, built each other up when any of us needed encouragement, and have stood by one another through thick and thin.  We're as much a family as if we were related by blood.

As tight-knit as we are, Danny has wanted to add an electric guitarist to the group for the longest time.  I think that an additional musician, while he might rock the congregation, could rock our band's seamless boat.

"Be careful what you pray for, honey," I warn Danny on more than one occasion.  "What if someone volunteers to play with us, but doesn't get along with the group?"

"Then, he probably wouldn't last long," Danny admits.  "That would be a lot of wasted time and energy rehearsing the songs with someone who doesn't really fit in or isn't wholly committed to the band."

"A waste of time, indeed," I agree.  "If God means for us to have an electric guitarist, let's simply trust He will send the right one to us in His own good time."

God is so good!!!

In His unmatched timing, the Lord sends us Scott who officially joins Crossroads a few months ago.  Not only is he a fantastic lead guitarist, but he also plays drums, bass, and is a whiz with sound systems.  And, in Scott, God provides us so much more than we could ever hope for or imagine.

Scott fits with our group like a hand in a glove.  It's as if he has always been a part of us.  Just a few months may have passed, but we feel we have know him for a lifetime.

Some might call this perfect fit a coincidence, but I call it a "God-incidence."  A purposeful, miraculous move made by His mighty hand which changes our lives forever and for the better.

Here are some photos taken of the band members earlier this month at KUMC's Music Fest:

Rob, our bass player, ready to rock!

David, our drummer, chllaxin' before we perform.

Scott, our electric guitarist, set to go!

David's son, Aiden, isn't plugged in yet, but just look at that stage presence!  Wow!

Scott doing a sound check.  Told you he was multi-talented!

David making some adjustments to the cymbals.

From L-R:  Rob, Danny, me, and Scott

~

Have you ever experienced a God-incident?

Prayer:  We thank You, Father, for the love and friendship of brothers and sisters in Christ.  Jesus modeled the importance and necessity of such bonds when He called His disciples, His Band of Brothers (and Sisters) to follow Him.  Let us ever encourage one another in the faith and build each other up that we may make disciples for Your kingdom.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Slip Sliding Away



Psalm 94:18
When I said, "My foot is slipping," your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.

Our granddaughter, Virginia Rose, loves going to the playground.  Any playground!  How fortunate that her new apartment complex has on on site.

While she has always loved the swings, Virginia has been a bit wary of the slide unless her dad, John, climbs the ladder with her and holds her as they swoop down together.  Not any more!  From these photos, it seems she has conquered her fears.





But, on closer scrutiny of these pictures, I think Virginia's not sliding down, she's trying to climb up that slippery slope!  The realization brings back my own childhood memories of attempting to scale the slide from the other direction.  Hands gripping the slide's sides tenaciously.  Pushing one Ked-clad foot after the other with the determination of Sir Hillary.  But, rarely reaching the Mount Everest summit, even with the most dedicated of efforts.

Slip sliding away.  Back down the incline.  Hitting the bottom . . .

And, when we live our life as if God were not at the center of it, it is a precarious venture.  A slippery slope.  Ill advised at best; traumatically disappointing at worst.  

When we attempt to scale the slide of life on our own, rejecting His presence, we are destined for failure.  We face a future of treading water, not making tracks.

I don't believe for one moment that any one of us would choose to live a life which is not moving forward with purpose, with resolve, with meaning.

And, I don't believe for one moment that God wants us to live a life devoid of purpose.  Or, resolve.  Or, meaning.

He knows when our feet begin to slip.

When we forget He is there to save us with His unfailing love.

There to rescue.  To restore.

Climbing up that ladder right behind us to support our gleeful free-fall to the bottom of the slide.

Right with us.

Always.

God will never slip slide away . . .

~

How is God keeping you from slip sliding away?

Prayer:  Dearest Father, the slippery slopes of this world offer temptations, falsely assuring us that we can accomplish things in this life on our own.  Your Word tells us a different story.  Be with us always, reminding us that You alone are our true and loving guide and defender through this earthly existence.  In Jesus' precious name we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled


John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

I a blog I read recently, the author questions why she can hear the negative words of Satan loud and clear, while the voice of God is the merest of whispers.  She describes in wrenching, heartfelt prose her intense longing to push the taunts of the devil away, and embrace only the presence of the Lord and His love for her.  She needs reassurance that, though she is in the world, she is not of it.

Don't we all feel that way at times?  How can we not when the world, Satan's kingdom, bombards us with disasters, dangers, death, and destruction the moment we turn on the evening news or peruse the latest headlines on the internet?  I, like this blogger I follow, struggle to blot out the noise stridently delivered to me, and strive to hang on to the truth of the Word.

God's Word.

How radically it conflicts with, challenges, opposes, the present vagaries of sin and impending doom!  How God's Word offers us instead infinite hope and endless freedom!

A complete about-face.

A turning toward the One who saves.  The One who provides.

The One who knows that this earth cannot give us peace.

The One who tells us we are not of this world, though we are caught up in its trials and tribulations.

God calls us to live out our lives for His honor and glory.

Simple as that.

Letting His kingdom come; His will be done.

Ignoring Satan at every turn, moment to moment, on our life's journey.

Faithfully following the path the Lord promised to us.  The way which would neither trouble our hearts nor cause fear to conquer us.

God's voice may only be a whisper, but when our ears are attuned to His loving witness, how can we not hear?

How can we not act?

How can we not have hope?

How can we not feel His peace which passes all understanding?

~

As Christians, we are called to live in this world, but not be of it.  How are you living this witness out in your life so that others may know the power and peace of Christ Jesus?

Prayer:  Jesus told us so many times, Father, to not be afraid because He has overcome the world and all our fears.  When our hearts are troubled, let us first turn to You, to Him, and to the Holy Spirit for solace, guidance and healing.  Grant us Your peace that we might pass that same peace on to those in need of your comfort and grace.  Amen.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Thorn in the Flesh


2 Corinthians 7b - 9
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

If you are a faithful reader here at Meditations of My Heart, you are already aware that we have a brand new granddaughter, Savannah Jane, born on April 27th.  On first assessment, she seems perfect in every way:  a healthy weight of 9 lbs., 1 ounce; almost 20 inches long; all ten fingers and toes, and well-developed lungs and appetite.

But, the bad tidings come quickly to light.  My daughter, Sarah, had been taking a prescribed medication which doctors assured her would have no ill effect on her baby.  Savannah Jane, it turns out, is the exception.  To their dismay, Sarah and her husband, John, learn that their little girl will have to spend at least two more weeks in the hospital for treatment and observation before she can go home with them.  Such devastating news . . .

Heads up, Gammie!  The ball's in your court!

So her parents can see Savannah Jane with daily, and sometimes nightly, regularity, I offer to keep Virginia Rose at our home.  While I'm used to babysitting two to three times a week for several hours, nothing has prepared me for the sudden onslaught of extended granddaughter time.

Nothing . . .



And, to top it all off, this is the week when my husband, Danny, is out of town for annual meetings in Washington, D. C.  Every aspect of care-giving falls squarely on my shoulders.  While you'll never find me lacking any love for Virginia, this is a physically draining experience, one which reminds me why God designed us to be mothers when we are young, not when we've reached the Gammie stage.

I sleep in my own bed one night for the entire week.  All the others are spent sharing the couch with Virginia, propped up on pillows, and unwittingly preparing my back for the inevitable.  Yep!  You guessed it!  I lift that growing toddler the wrong way too many times, and wake up last Sunday morning with a nasty catch in my lower back.

The proverbial thorn in the flesh . . .

And, it couldn't have happened at a more inconvenient time.  I have to keep going in spite of the discomfort, soreness and spasms which afflict me when I turn too abruptly to catch that beach ball Virginia tosses my way.

I pray for God's help.  For healing.  But, He reminds me that His grace is sufficient, especially when I'm feeling deficient.  I decide to make the best of it, accepting my weakness and temporary infirmity as an opportunity to tap into the power Christ Jesus offers to me when I yield to Him.

It is a humbling reminder that my body is not invincible.

It is a joyous realization that my soul, because of Jesus' sacrifice, is eternal.

~

Have you ever endured a "thorn in the flesh" experience?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Prayer:  We thank You, Father, for Your grace which is sufficient to meet all our needs in this life, no matter how painful or difficult our situations.  When we are feeling weak, may we depend on Your Son, Christ Jesus, to fill us with His strength and power.  Let us learn to lean upon Him in all things.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Big Sister!



Psalm 139:13-15
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

On April 27th, we welcomed our new grandchild, Savannah Jane, into the world!  We are overjoyed that she is here and that her mother, my daughter, Sarah, made it through her long, but successful, labor.

In the months prior to Savannah's arrival, we spend innumerable hours preparing Virginia Rose for the appearance of her baby sister.  She has been an only child for almost four years, so we anticipate the possibilities for jealousy and resentment on her part.  We want Virginia to love her little sister, knowing she, too, is fearfully and wonderfully made.

We read books about being the big sister (or brother), have talks about how important she will be in her baby sister's life, and how she can be such a help to her mom and dad.  And, Sarah invites Virginia to talk to the tummy so the unborn one can become familiar with her sibling's voice.

Virginia is prepped and primed!

As you can read here, I promise Virginia to take her to the toy store once sister arrives so she can get a toy for herself and one for the baby.  My mother wants in on the act and asks me to buy something for both children on her behalf.  As we are driving to the store, I'm pondering what I could purchase that wouldn't be impulsive or unnecessary in honoring Mom's request.  Out of the blue, the idea hits!

"Virginia," I say, "would you like to have a T-shirt that says "Big Sister" on it?"

She beams.  "Yes, Gammie."

"Good!  We'll look for one at the toy store while we're there."

Regrettably, though, the store doesn't carry baby or toddler clothing, so we come away empty in that department.  However, we are successful in finding some gifts for sister and some new crayons and activity books for Virginia.

My husband, Danny, learns his granddaughter wants this particular T-shirt.  He is shopping for some last minute items at Kohl's for his upcoming trip to Washington, D. C., and comes across the perfect one for sweet Virginia.  Darling, isn't it?









Almost as darling as she is!

~

How did you react to the birth of a sibling?  Were you accepting?  Jealous?  What were the reactions of your children like when a new brother or sister came on the scene?

Prayer:  Dear Father, You have loved us even before the moment we were conceived.  You knit us with care in our mother's womb.  You watch over us every day of our lives.  We thank You for the gift of new life, new love, and new promise.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Playin' in the Dirt


Ephesians 4:15
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

What a chilly spring we've had this year!  Especially, for us who live in the sunny south where we're used to T-shirts and flip-flops by the beginning of April.

Not so this go-round!

Due to the unusual temperatures, our annual planting of shade-friendly flowers to adorn our deck during the summer months is delayed by several weeks.  When my husband, Danny, arrives home with this year's choices, he is underwhelmed.

"This is the best they had at Home Depot," he confesses.  "The impatiens look a bit droopy, but the selection of shade plants was really pathetic.  Hope they'll do okay."

I assess the acceptable begonias and the rather questionable impatiens, and give him a smile.  "They may not look like much now, but with warmer weather coming, they should grow just fine.  Can't wait for Virginia to visit so she can play in the dirt with me."

"She'll love that, I'm sure."

And, she does!





Our sweet granddaughter is not afraid to get her hands dirty.  She plunges into the task with abandon, following her Gammie's instructions, and fascinated by the entire process of planting.  Virginia doesn't even hint at impishly plucking a bloom; she seems to know that these plants are special and they need to stay intact in order to grow to their full potential.

When we finish placing all the flowers in pots, we turn on the hose to rinse off our hands before entering the house.  Even though the weather is damp, I will always remember my father, career botanist and avid gardener, telling me that whenever a plant is relocated to a new venue, generous watering helps the roots to take hold and grow.  So, of course, we do that.

Here are some photos of the begonias and impatiens nestled in their pots.









In August, I will share another post to show how summer's warmth made them bloom and grow.  By then, they should be mature in stature and productivity.

~

Just as plants mature in season, we never stop growing and maturing in the Lord when we choose to follow Him.  How does your garden grow, my friends?

Prayer:  Dear Father, thank You for each and every living thing which You have created.  Help us to be good and faithful stewards of this amazingly beautiful earth You have deemed worthy of us.  May we continue to grow in Your Word and Spirit with every breath we take.  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 ...