Friday, March 20, 2015

The Best is Yet to Come


John 12:24
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

We struggle with death and dying.  We want to live.  We want those we love to live.  It's in our nature.  But . . . This is not the end.  It's just the beginning, and the best is yet to come for those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ!  So . . . Even though we are dying, even though those we love are, we must live! ~Dusty Rayburn at Devoted Conversations 

Thursday, March 19th, marked the one year anniversary of my father's passing.  I haven't stopped missing him.  I haven't stopped grieving his loss.  That he was a caring, loving, selfless man who successfully made friends out of would-be enemies during his career speaks volumes to the influence of his Christian upbringing.  Speaks volumes to me today as I try, in my own small way, to encourage and inspire others as he encouraged and inspired me, the daughter always standing in awe of his grace and strength.

I know as I write these words, there are many of you out there who have lost beloved friends and family members.  You miss them every day and long for the reunion in heaven which seems so far away.  Perhaps, like me, you are wishing the years with your loved ones were spent with more care, more attentiveness, and with more thankfulness for their irreplaceable presence.

Because now, they are sorely missed . . . 

I so miss my Daddy.

I long to talk with him as we did before Alzheimer's robbed him of his acumen and wisdom.

I drift upon memories, recollecting the stories he concocted when my brother and I were small, stories which were the catalyst for many of our childhood games.  Stories which, many years later, became the foundation for The Glade Series.

I reminisce about the times I made Dad proud and the times I tried his patience (That was hard to do!).  I remember the so, so many times his accomplishments made my heart swell with pride for him.  And if I close my eyes and sit in silence, I can still hear his gentle voice as if he is right beside me, assuring me that all is well and all will be well.

For as Dusty writes:  This is not the end.  It's just the beginning, and the best is yet to come for those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ!

I miss you, Daddy.

I love you.

And one day, I will see you again.

Because the best is yet to come . . . 

Prayer:  Father, please comfort those who are grieving the loss of a loved one today.  Fill them with Your grace, peace and mercy.  Hold them close in Your loving embrace.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Meditations of My Heart will be on a two-week hiatus beginning next week.  Your prayers are much appreciated as I will attempt to complete my novel sequels during this time.  May God bless you and may your Easter celebration be filled with joy!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pay it Forward


1 Peter 3:8
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

As many of you know, I am working diligently to produce the next two books for Adventures in The Glade.  Truly, I released the first installment believing I knew where Book 2 would end.  But I was wrong.  The story just keeps unfolding!  Now, however, I am nearing the end, I pray, with manifold and thorough edits to follow.  This will take time; time I know God is granting me.  After all, this work is His, not mine.  I'm only an instrument to be played by His plans and orchestrated in His courts.

I would like to share with you today an excerpt from Book 3 which I recently wrote.  Please allow me to set the stage:  David and Sarah Murray are the grandparents of Davy and Sarah.  They are travelling from Hawaii to spend some much needed time with family far too distant from them.  David and Sarah are also the parents of John, Kate's first husband, who died in overseas combat.  Their reunion is a long time coming.  And the unexpected glimpse into their son's past as they make their way toward their destination is something I hope will inspire you.

David and Sarah Murray reached Blue Ridge, Georgia, about mid-afternoon and decided to look for lodgings there for the night.  It was the height of the tourist season, but they were hoping beyond hope they could secure a motel room.  Good fortune found them when they inquired about availability at the Comfort Inn whose sign they had spotted from the highway.  While David took care of the arrangements, Sarah stood at a distance from the reservations desk, perusing a rack of pamphlets advertising the many attractions the area offered.  

The clerk behind the desk, whose name badge read "Roger," greeted David warmly.  "How long will you be staying with us?"  Roger inquired.

"Just one night," said David.  "We're heading up to North Carolina and the Nantahala Mountains tomorrow."

Roger grinned broadly.  "That's some mighty gorgeous country up there," he declared.  "God's country, I call it.  I've been up that way countless times.  Is this your first visit to that area?"

"No," David admitted, "but that was so long ago, it will seem new all over again."

Roger took David's credit card and was prepared to swipe it when he noticed the "check I.D." in the place reserved for a signature.  "Sir, my I see your driver's license?"  he asked courteously.

"Why, certainly," David answered as he retrieved it from his wallet.  "I'm glad you caught that, son.  Most folks don't and that's a shame.  You can't be too careful nowadays."

"Yes, sir, I agree," said Roger as he scrutinized the license.  When he saw David's last name and realized his place of residence was Hawaii, he had a sudden flash of memory.  He studied David's face and noticed a familiar green in those eyes, such a rare color he had seen only in one other person his entire life.  It was a long shot, but curiosity got the best of him.  "Begging your pardon, Mr. Murray," Roger said, "but is your wife's name 'Sarah' by any chance?"

David was understandably taken aback.  "Why yes, it is," he said.  "How did you know?"

"I really didn't know," Roger admitted, "but I took a guess based on your last name and the fact you live in Hawaii.  Plus, sir, I've only seen eyes the color of yours on a friend I served with in the military.  His name's John Murray.  Is he, by any chance, your son?"

At this most unexpected question, David once again experienced the grief he thought he'd buried all those years ago come churning to the surface like a tidal wave.  Before he could stop them, he felt tears stinging his eyes and a lump rising in his throat.  David lowered his eyes, trying to gain his composure.  He was barely able to croak out an answer.  "Yes, he was," he said haltingly.  "John was killed in the line of duty."

Roger's face fell and his hands began to shake.  "I'm so sorry," he stammered awkwardly.  "John was a good man, a loyal soldier, and an even better friend.  If I'd known, sir, I'd never have brought it up."

David forced a smile.  "It's not your fault, Roger," he said with as much grace as he could muster.  "Thank you for your kind words about John.  Any father wants to hear good things about his son."

"You have every reason to be proud, sir," Roger said, a bit more confidently now.  "We were only in our unit together for two months, but he looked after me like I was his kid brother.  I was only 18 and scared out of my wits.  His encouragement was the glue I needed to hold myself together and make it though."

"I'm glad to know that," David said sincerely, giving permission for a tear to fall as he reached over the counter to shake Roger's hand.

"And there's one more thing you need to know, sir," Roger said as he raised the signed charge slip up with his free hand.  "Your stay tonight is on me."

~
Roger is the perfect example of what it means to "pay it forward."  When have you done the same?

Prayer:  Father, may You help us all to be like-minded, sympathetic, compassionate, and humble as is Roger in the story.  Allow us to pay it forward and bring joy to others in Your name.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.


Friday, March 13, 2015

A Season of Waiting


Jeremiah 5:24
They do not say to themselves, "Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest."

March opens with a resounding "yes" for me.  My birthday is the first day of the month.  How can I not celebrate and give thanks to God that He chose the day and the hour upon which I would enter the world?

But once that day has passed, I feel like Julius Caesar in his crucial moment of despair - "Et tu, Brute?"  The Ides of March . . .

The snow continues to descend.

So does my sadness.

Spring, in all her glory, is slow to arrive.  Expectant buds upon the daffodils refuse to move toward most welcomed bloom.  Crocuses close themselves in tight isolation as winter's chill lingers.

I am in a season of waiting.

Waiting for the snow in my heart to melt.

Waiting for the warm rains of spring to cleanse me.

Waiting for sorrowful memories to crest and subside, leaving tears in their wake.

No matter how many months and years pass, the memories never lose their hold on this space and time of year.

A season of waiting for my soul to know this, too, shall pass.  Longing to believe it.  Embrace it.

Praying to know deep within that God is walking beside me, holding my hand, lifting me up.

Guiding me through the much and mire in my mind.

Assuring me that spring is in the offing, and all will be made new.

Promising me that even in the hardships, the sadness, and the unwanted memories, I can still find joy.

~

Are you in a season of waiting?  Can you still find joy?

Prayer:  Father, we thank You for walking with us in our seasons of waiting.  Help us to never lose sight of the joy You offer at all times and in all places when we open our hearts to accept it.  Give us hope in the darkest of times that we might glimpse Your glory and remember Your promises.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Work of Human Hands


Please give a warm welcome to my friend and fellow blogger, Irene Marie Cortez who has graciously written a guest post for Meditations of My Heart.  I was truly touched by her sketch of me which she did from a photo and sent it via Facebook on my birthday this month.  When I asked Irene to guest blog, I had no idea she would include the drawing, but I'm so delighted to be able to share Irene's artwork and thoughtful reflection.  Let her words and drawings bless you today!



It is finally done!

After spending a couple of minutes (hours or days in other cases) doing some visual calisthenics, studying the subject, then replicating it on paper as if I was some sort of live photocopying machine, I can at last affix my signature, breathe a collective sigh of relief and say, "It is finished."





"It is finished . . ."

Weren't those also the last words of our beloved Savior before He breathed His last?

Words He uttered just a few moments before His human heart stopped beating?

Words that the purpose of His ultimate sacrifice of giving up His life, in exchange for ours that were marred and taken away by sin, was already fulfilled?

A sacrifice to save our souls from death . . .

A sacrifice which can only be undertaken out of great Love . . .

Because He thinks we are all worth dying for . . .





A thoughtful Facebook follower told me, "Your dedication to art and your faith in God moves me to do the same and reach for my dreams, too."

And I replied, "in whatever you do, do it with love and for sure it will show.

And always work with God, never alone, and give Him the glory He deserves."

After that brief exchange of Facebook messages with her, however, I felt that she touched my heart more than I touched hers and inspired me to keep doing what I am doing.

God is really at work.





More sleepless nights, eye exercises, and flexing of hand muscles working on art pieces that certainly await me.

But if all of those also mean more love given, more talent put to good use, and more fulfillment of God's purpose for my life, then it will all be worth . . .

Because God is worth working for.



Irene Marie Cortez is an independent visual artist from La Union, Philippines.  Having a bachelor's degree in Occupational Therapy and being an "almost" physician, she considers her present occupation as a redirection from God.  Aside from drawing, Irene loves to sing, read classic novels and books, and articles about the Christian faith.  You can find Irene at her blog, her art site and her shop.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Through the Presence of a Child



Matthew 19:14
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Our granddaughter, Savannah Jane, now 10 months old, is plunged into a crowded world of unfamiliar adults at our recent family gathering to celebrate my 60th birthday.  As you can surmise from the photo above, there are plenty of folks to adjust to and get to know.  She spends most of the first hour of introduction intermittently crying on the shoulders of her mom or dad.  She is not a happy camper!

We all pay due respect to this precious child's need to acclimate to an entirely new situation; it is unanimously understood.  We are patient, cautious and kind.  By the time the group photo is taken, Savannah Jane is completely in her comfort zone, neither worried nor concerned by the confusion swirling around her.  Instead, she finds peace and a sense of place.

She has found her stride, and is right where she is supposed to be.

In the midst of all, loved.

In the uncertainty of it all, loved.

In the brevity or longevity of contact, loved.

~

So many times, we cry just like Savannah Jane did when we feel overwhelmed by life's circumstances and fail, in those moments, to feel the presence of the Father in our lives.

But we can discover that treasure once again when focus upon the face of a child, one like Savannah in whose eyes the Kingdom of Heaven still lingers.



We will find our stride.

We will know exactly where we are supposed to be.

In the midst of doubt and uncertainty, we will feel God's presence.

In the brevity or longevity of trial and tribulation, we will know His love.

Heaven has come to earth through the presence of a child.  May each of you find that blessing!

~

Will you remember that you are God's child?  He so loves you and you are precious in His sight.

Prayer:  Father, let us come into Your presence with child-like faith, knowing we are Your beloved children.  Let our trust and faith in You be pure and holy at all times.  May we serve You in loving gratitude each and every day.  In Jesus' name we pray, amen.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My Solitary Place


Mark 1:35
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

So many of my Christian blogging friends have shared their daily practice of rising early to greet the day in reading and meditating upon the Word, spending time pondering and reflecting upon scripture, and engaging in meaningful conversations with God.  If you have been following my blog these past two weeks, you are aware of my Lenten discipline to spend time with God every morning before I even turn on my computer and respond to the demands of the day.

Before our recent home renovation, I was using our kitchen table to settle down with materials gathered in order to put this invaluable time into practice.  No longer!  In our modest, but intimately reformed middle bedroom, I've created a lasting space and place for morning worship.  My solitary place.  Surrounded by the reminders of God's love for me, it is the perfect environment to simply be with Him.











Trusting in His presence and promises.

Dwelling with Him as I read His word and gaze out the window at His gracious creation.

Writing out my thoughts which He inspires.

Resting in His everlasting arms.

Prepared to begin my day on the narrow way and to keep it there in faith.

~

Do you have a special place set aside in your home where you daily spend time with God?

Prayer:  Father, may we always realize and treasure the necessity of spending intimate time with You each and every day.  Allow us, by Your Grace, to seek Your wisdom and love so freely offered, and claim it in quiet and solitude, knowing You hear our prayers and are working within us to help us remain on the narrow way.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Was I Dreaming of a White Christmas?

1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 There is no need to write you, friends, about the times and occasions when these things will happen.  For you your...