Friday, June 16, 2017

Birds of a Feather


Galatians 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Romans 2:11
For God does not show favoritism.

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you probably know that my husband, Danny, and I enjoy feeding the birds that inhabit our forest.  So much so, we have two squirrel-buster feeders hung with a series of wires and pulleys so they can be lowered for easy filling, then hauled back up beyond the reach of the deer that frequent our neighborhood.  (Yes, folks, deer like sunflower seeds, too!)


We've seen quite the variety of birds over the years:  cardinals; nuthatches; chickadees; goldfinches, and even the occasional flicker and bluebird.  All in all, these birds seem to respect each other's space at the feeders; it's not uncommon to see one or two perched on the wire when the feeders are occupied, awaiting their turn that always comes quickly.

Enter the house finch.

We're all familiar with the old saying, "Birds of a feather flock together."  Whoever penned that must have been well acquainted with the habits of house finches.  According to All About Birds, house finches are gregarious creatures, who upon discovering feeders to their liking, might bring a flock of 50 or more birds with them.

Thank goodness this group hasn't attracted this unwieldy number!  But as you can tell from these photos Danny takes, they are certainly swarming our feeders.





And although the cardinal above managed to "wing" his way in, many other of our feathered friends, who are certainly not used to this level of competition, are excluded.

If the house finch has a motto, I'm sure it is, "All for one, and one for all."

They flock together, feed together, oblivious to the presence of the other bird species around them.  It's as if they are the only creatures who matter.  Who measure up.

And I can't help but think their behavior reflects our own human frailties.  Don't we tend to stick to our "own kind?"  Surrounding ourselves with friends who think like us, act like us, dress like us?  Turning a blind eye toward others who "don't measure up" to our standards, our level of education, our income bracket?

But Paul reminds us in Romans 2:11 that God doesn't play favorites.  He loves all His children with the same fierce, unfailing, abiding love.  No one person is more blessed than another.  All are equally precious to Him.

So knowing we are all one in Christ Jesus, shouldn't we start behaving that way toward our fellow human beings, no matter what side of the tracks they come from, no matter their political beliefs, no matter their skin color or country of origin?

It's so much easier to be a house finch, isn't it?

But God never said following Him would be easy.

With the Lord's help, may we all begin to regard our fellow travelers on this life's journey with God's eyes.

The eyes of love.

Amen!

Due to having our granddaughter, Virginia, here all next week for Vacation Bible School, and me helping out with this each day, I'm taking a brief blog break.  I will be back here with you on Tuesday, June 27th.  God bless!





Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Twit or Tweet?


Ecclesiastes 10:13
The words of his mouth begin with foolishness, and the end of his talk is raving madness.

Twit:  (verb) to taunt, tease, ridicule, etc., with reference to anything embarrassing; gibe at.  Synonyms:  jeer at; mock; insult, deride.

How many of you use Twitter regularly?  For what seems like ages, I haven't, except to tweet some of my favorite Christian bloggers' posts.  But I never make a habit of checking my Twitter feed because my "Silver Bird" connection has always crashed and burned, or chose not to show up at all when I bring my computer online.

What makes it suddenly "fix" itself, flashing irritating alerts on the right-hand side of my computer screen, I can't fathom.  But it does not make me a happy camper.  Honestly, I don't want the interruption, nor do I wish to be distracted when composing a post on Facebook, penning an email, or just browsing the internet.

And I've yet to figure out how to disable it without completely dismantling my Twitter link.  Any advice you all could give me on this would be greatly appreciated!

What I've noticed as my wandering eyes are tempted to peruse the invasive banner of news flashes and announcements is that I will see an article that piques my interest.  I visit.  I read.  Then I make a huge (my word for the year) mistake.

I comment.

Man, oh, man!  What I say, no matter how innocuous I perceive it to be, is regarded as an attack more often than not.  It's a free-for-all, body slam, face in the dirt, cataclysmic KO.  The stinging words leave me reeling and wondering, what has happened to civil discourse in our country?  What has happened to respect and common decency?  

Twitter is, with a few exceptional exceptions, a cesspool.  Tweets have morphed into twits!  And the last thing I desire is one more ounce of negativity in my otherwise positive outlook.

Too many mouths filled with foolishness, bordering on the verge of raving madness.  Intolerant.  Angry.  Hateful.

The anonymity that Twitter fosters, I believe, makes such vicious attacks on others not only possible, but preys upon our human frailty to judge others.  That's God's job, not ours.

So this week, I've made a pledge to the Lord and to myself.  I will only tweet Christian inspiration, and will not be sucked into the vortex of vitriol Twitter enables.  I need not, and neither do you, have to put up with the foolish and frenzied insanity of others; but there is something positive we can do.

Pray!

Pray for all those lost souls out there who would rather twit than tweet.

Amen!

Friday, June 9, 2017

"Until the First Grandchild"


Jeremiah 31:3
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:  "I have loved you with an everlasting love;  I have drawn you with unfailing kindness."

1 John 4:7
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Recently I receive, and readily embrace, this sweet, unexpected note and drawing from our oldest granddaughter, Virginia Rose.


Here is what she wrote:

Dear Gammie,
I love you so much!  And you're my favorite Gammie in the entire world!  Also, you bring my heart up when you are here, and my heart is down when you are not here.  I love you.  You're mine.  
Love, Virginia

Oh, how my heart soars and sings at Virginia's beautiful message!  And I so love what she says as it reminds me of those times when we feel that God is not present.  Those times when He feels so far away from our needs, our wants, our petitions and prayers.

My heart is down when you're not here.

Reality?  God is always here with us; it is we who create the distance.

Virginia's heart is cast down, and so is mine, when I'm not with her.  I adore this amazing child, and I'd like nothing better than to be able to see her each and every day!  But you know what?  God feels the same way.  He desires to spend time with us, to have conversations, to provide those reassuring, comforting hugs, if and when we choose to spend time with Him in prayer.  There is nothing to compare to talking with and listening to our Father who knows all our needs before we ask.

The Lord, our God, has loved us with an everlasting love, one that will never fail, and one that has been witnessed throughout the ages.  And at times, I think, His great love is perfected in the gift of grandchildren.  So I leave you all with these inspirational and joyful quotes about what it means to be a grandparent.

Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild. ~Welsh Proverb

It is as grandmothers that our mothers come into the fullness of their grace. ~Christopher Morley

If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I'd have had them first. ~Lois Wyse

Grandchildren are God's way of compensating us for growing old. ~Mary H. Waldrip

You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother. ~Proverb

Posterity is the patriotic name for grandchildren. ~Art Linkletter

Oh, how much our grandchildren can teach us about God's abiding and steadfast love!

Amen!


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Henry, the Hero


John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this:  to lay down one's life for one's friend.

Henry, a cat with a gentle soul and loving disposition, has been a part of granddaughter, Virginia Rose's, life since she was just a toddler.  To her, he's not just a pet, he's family.  And although her mom and dad have always known Henry is a special cat, they discover recently, not in a way they would wish, just how special he is.



John, my son-in-law, routinely takes Virginia and her sisters, Savannah and Alexandra, to a playground at their apartment complex.  Henry, as is his custom, follows faithfully after them, though John doesn't notice it at the time on this particular day.  When they reach the gate, there are no other children playing there, but John sees a young man sitting on a bench some distance away.  He has his pit bull with him.

Apprehensive about this unexpected presence, John hails the man.  "Hey, there!  Is your dog friendly?  I've brought my girls here to play."

The man looks up from his phone, where he has been busy texting.  "Yeah, he's friendly.  Loves kids.  It's fine to bring them in."

John is still unsure of the situation, but Virginia's pleading has him throwing caution to the wind.  He opens the gate, holding Savannah in one arm and Alexandra in the other, as Virginia darts through, making a beeline for the swing set.

That's the only provocation this dog needs.  He flies toward Virginia, barking furiously.  In a flash, he's right on her, snapping at the back of her neck.  Terrified, Virginia screams and starts to run toward her father.  "Don't run, baby, don't run!"  John cries out in a panic as he hurries toward her as fast as he can.  "Cover your neck with your hands!"

Then it happens!  An orange and white bullet leaps out of nowhere, sinking his claws firmly into the dog's back, and hissing with rage.  Henry!  The dog yelps in pain, trying desperately to unseat his unwelcome passenger.  The distraction allows John to reach Virginia, and get her to safety along with her two sisters.  Once outside the playground's confines, John turns around, expecting the worst.  After all, Henry has tackled a predator ten times his size!

He looks just in time to see the dog finally dislodge Henry from his back, but not before the cat inflicts a final blow.  As he's sailing off the dog's back, Henry manages to dig his claws into the dog's face, nearly gouging out his right eye, before he lands on all fours and dashes toward John and the girls.

At this point, the negligent owner runs over to finally take control of his animal, but not before John gives him a scathing earful.  Not that I approve of such language, nor am I thrilled Virginia is standing there to hear it, but I can certainly understand a father's fury and frustration about what has just transpired.

Sadly, the owner doesn't offer an apology.  He simply hooks on the leash and leads the wounded dog away as quickly as he can, while John hastily ushers the girls back to their apartment.

"Where's Henry, Daddy?"  Virginia asks in alarm.  "Where did he go?  Did that mean dog hurt him?"

"I hope not," John says.  "Henry probably ran all the way to the apartment and is there waiting for us."

Tears well up in Virginia's eyes.  "That dog was so huge.  He could have killed Henry."

"And I think Henry knew that, baby, but he risked his life anyway to save you.  He loves you that much."

"And I love him, Daddy.  Henry is my hero!"

"Mine, too, Virginia, mine, too."



Just so none of you worry, Henry came through this ordeal with only a few nicks.  He didn't even have to go to the vet!  He is both our angel and our hero!

Friday, June 2, 2017

It's More Blessed to Give


Acts 20:35
"I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak.  And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

Summer is almost here!  And what better way to usher in the vacation season than a book give-away?  That's right!  I am offering the first novel in The Glade Series, A Trip, a Tryst and a Terror, for FREE to the first 25 people who email me through my website.  Will it be autographed?  Of course!  Here's how it works:


  • Visit my WEBSITE and click on "Contact" at the top right-hand side of the page.
  • Send me your name and home address so I can mail you a free book along with extra bookmarks to give to family and friends.  
  • Leave me feedback via the website once you've read the novel - I'd love to hear your take on the story.
  • Write a review on Amazon - not required by any means, but if you do, let me know so I can check it out and (Are you ready for this?), send you Book Two in the series, Children in the Garden!  Yes!
So how's that for a sweet deal?

But, friends, you need to act fast.  Let me hear from you today!

Love and blessings!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Voice is Heard in Ramah . . .


Matthew 2:18
"A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it. ~Albert Einstein

Hundreds of little girls and teenagers at a concert . . . and a coward suicide bomber attends . . . it is just heart-breaking. ~Vallery Barbin, Noma Falta 

It is precisely what Vallery says it is:  Heart-breaking!  The Rachel within us all weeps at the senseless tragedy of Manchester.  And the mothers, the fathers, of these innocents refuse to be comforted, because their young, their treasured, their beloved are no more . . .

Evil.  In this place.  In our time.  An unrepentant, hideous evil seeking to destroy civilization as we know it.

As Christians, we cannot stand by and do nothing.  But what is it, Lord, in the light of this most recent disaster, would You have us do?


  • We must recognize the evil in this world for what it is.  Yes, Jesus has overcome the world, but if we don't become engaged in prayer and in action to partner with Him, we give Satan the very toe-hold he needs to wreak the poisonous havoc in which he takes such wicked delight.
  • We must pray for and stay in touch with our government officials.  Whether we send letters, e-mails, tweet, or make phone calls, we can't remain silent.  We must rise up in the strength given to us through Christ, and voice our concerns boldly.  Every measure to defeat the enemy and protect innocent lives must be taken.
  • We must never give up!  We know that we are loved as children of God.  Let us begin acting in that very knowledge, loving and forgiving others, even our enemies, as we have been loved by Jesus.
  • We must, in all adversities, and in spite of them, continue to pray.  Pray for those we love and for our adversaries, who have yet to learn the power of God's infinite love.  Pray, pray, pray that one day, the entire world will come to know that indescribable love, that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all.
May all those affected by the recent horrendous calamities in Manchester, in Egypt, in Indonesia, and the Philippines, know that God's heart is breaking for them.  May they be surrounded with and blessed by the peace and comfort of our Lord, Jesus Christ.




Friday, May 26, 2017

We're Going Home


Luke 6:37
Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

When people are facing a severe illness or a major surgery, that may be one of the most significant opportunities for spiritual transformation that they will encounter. ~Allan Hamilton (Quote borrowed from my blogging friend, Jean Wise, at Healthy Spirituality)

This is the final installment of the Asheville misadventures.  If you are just joining us here, please begin with "The Voice of the Lord" featured under Blog Archives to the right of this page.

Danny and I entertain a host of medical professionals who will be in the operating room with him.  The anesthesiologist, her assistant, and the device technologist describe their roles in the procedure, and give us confidence that Danny is in good hands.  Enter Dr. S., the doctor who will actually be doing the surgery.  He embarks on what I've come to call the Litigious Litany; you know, just like all those drug commercials on television that feature an endless, and alarming, list of side effects.  Not in the least reassuring, but most likely required by law.

I look down at the Bible resting in my lap, and say a silent prayer of thanks to God for its presence.

For His.

When we are told the operation will take between two and three hours, Danny urges me to return to the hotel instead of sitting in an uninviting waiting room.  I leave my cell number with the nurse assigned to Danny's case, and head out to summon yet another Uber.  As I have to make many phone calls once again, the privacy of my hotel room is just what the doctor ordered.  (Yes, pun intended!)

I spend the next two-and-one-half hours contacting folks and perusing my new Bible, but most of my time is spent in prayer that all goes smoothly for Danny.  God continues to assure me that I should be anxious for nothing.  Danny will come through with flying colors.  What can I do at this point but trust completely in Him?

When call from Dr. S. finally comes in, I answer immediately.  "Mrs. Orlando, your husband is out of surgery and in recovery.  Everything went beautifully!  A text book case if I ever saw one.  I couldn't be happier with how things turned out."

"Oh, Dr. S., that's marvelous news!  When should I come back over to the hospital?"

"Don't leave your hotel for another hour or so," he advises.  "It will take him a while to come to himself.  By that time, we should have him back in his room."

More texting!  More calls!  More prayers of thanksgiving!!!  The success of the surgery means the doctors will release Danny tomorrow, and we can enjoy one night at the cabin before having to head home!

My arrival at the hospital could not have been better timed.  As I approach Danny's room, they are just wheeling him into it.  What a tremendous relief to see him awake.  Alert.

Alive!

Once the staff departs, and we are alone at last, we shed grateful tears of joy.  That's when Danny takes my hand, looks into my eyes, and says in all solemnity, "There's something really important I have to tell you, Martha.  Just before they put me under, I forgave her.  I forgave Pastor Diane, and I meant it with all my heart."

Tears spring anew to my eyes.  "Oh, Danny, I'm so glad you could, that you finally did!  This is such a blessing!"

"And you know what else is a blessing?"  Danny asks as he squeezes my hand.  "When we get back to Kennesaw, we can quit looking for another church.  We're going home."


~

For those of you who have been faithfully following this saga, you know that Danny faced some overwhelming complications during the ensuing weeks.  The pacemaker, successfully implanted in Asheville, became infected; we were advised by Dr. S. that there was a 15% possibility of this happening.  Consequently, Danny underwent three surgeries in the span of six weeks:  Pacemaker installed; pacemaker removed, and new device placed on the right side of his chest, not over the heart as before.  He now has a matching pair of scars, both of which are healing perfectly, thanks be to God!

All your prayers, your notes, your comments here and privately, have meant the world to both of us through these stressful ordeals.  We truly felt God's presence and peace throughout.  So now, allow me to leave you with some gorgeous photos that Danny managed to take at the cabin on the Sunday we arrived, and on the Thursday evening when at last we could return.  May the glory of God's creation bless you, my friends, and may you always remember how precious you are in His eyes!












Amen!


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"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 are new here and want to catch up, look at the Blog Archives to the right of the page and begin with "The Voice of the Lord" published on April 7th.

Not long after Chaplain James departs, the head nurse stops by.  "I just want to let you all know that the surgeons are running behind schedule over at Mission.  They can't confirm when the ambulance will be coming to take you from St. Joseph's to there, but I'll stay on top of things, and tell you as soon as I'm notified.  So sorry for the delay, but these things happen."

This isn't what Danny wants to hear, especially since he has fasted since midnight.  I feel so badly for him, but I can't even give him a sip of water; at this point, we want this operation over and done with, and would never dream of doing anything to jeopardize that!

Time drags as we wait for word.  And I begin to wonder, too, if James has forgotten all about that Bible he promised to bring me.  Does he even know we're still here, way past the scheduled time for Danny's surgery?  This train of thought is unexpectedly, but delightfully, interrupted.

"The ambulance is on the way," the head nurse announces as she enters the room, a beaming smile on her face.  "All set?"

"I've been all set for over two hours," Danny declares, a bit grouchily, but who can blame him?  His stomach has been growling non-stop the entire afternoon.  Luckily, the nurse is not one who is easily offended.

When Jenny and Juan, the EMTs, arrive, they waste no time getting Danny transferred to the gurney and hooked up to the monitors so his pulse and blood pressure can be checked along the way.  Unlike my first experience (and hopefully my last) in an ambulance, this journey is short, sweet and well within the speed limit.  An added bonus?  I get to sit in the back with Danny!

We arrive without incident, and Jenny and Juan expertly lower the gurney from the ambulance and have us on our way to the pre-surgery rooms in no time.  We have to wait outside the one designated for Danny for a few minutes.  That's when I see Juan, who has been eyeing the heart monitor, do something that Jenny finds surprising.

"Why are you printing out the patient's heart information?"  she asks her partner.

"I've been in this business for over twenty years," Juan says, "and I've only seen two third degree heart blocks in all of that time.  I want some proof this go around."

Danny and I can't blame Juan for wanting a "souvenir," but the revelation doesn't offer us much comfort as surgery looms.  Is Danny's condition that rare?  Are the doctors going to be able to fix him as promised?  Lord, I really need Your Word right about now!

Finally, Danny's room is ready, and he is quickly settled in.  Now we wait to be visited by the pacemaker technologist, the anesthesiologist, and the doctor who will perform the procedure.  Before any of them make an entrance, and unfamiliar face appears at the doorway.

"Hi," the man says cheerfully.  "I'm Mark, the chaplain here at Mission.  My friend, James, told me you all requested a Bible?"

"Yes, we did!"  I say enthusiastically.

"Well, then, here you go," Mark says as he places the Bible into my hands.  "A complimentary gift from the Gideon's!"

I can't help but chuckle.  These Bible-delivery fellows may not have made it to Homewood Suites, but they sure did make it to Mission.

And not a moment too soon.

To be continued . . .

Friday, May 19, 2017

Amazing Company


Philippians 1:18b-19
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know through your prayers and God's provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.

Surgery day has arrived at last!  I hurry through coffee and breakfast so I can get over to the hospital no later than mid-morning.  With the operation scheduled for 12:30, I want to have ample time with Danny beforehand, and I need to make arrangements for the hospital chaplain to pay us a visit.

I can't help but recall Danny's previous two surgeries - one to install the original defibrillator and the other to replace the battery - when our former pastor, Wallace, arrives in time to pray with both of us, then stays with me throughout the entire procedure.  What comfort this gives me, and what peace of mind it gives Danny to know I won't be waiting out the ordeal alone.

This time around, everything's different.  Though we feel, still, the incredible calm generated by the prayers of so many, there's simply nothing like having a believer physically present, to join hands, and pray aloud over us.  I can't help but wonder what the St. Joseph's chaplain will be like.

About an hour after I make the request, a middle-aged man in a wheelchair appears at Danny's doorway.  A warm smile engulfs his bespectacled face.  "Am I at the right room?"  he asks in a voice as pleasant as his expression.  "I was told you all wished to see the chaplain."

"Yes, yes," says Danny eagerly.  "Please come in!"

James, as he introduces himself, rolls into the room and settles his chair near the foot of Danny's bed.  He wants to hear our story, of how and why we came here, where we are from, and what we do at home.  As we speak in turn, James listens empathetically and with genuine interest.  A born pastor, I think to myself, and perfectly suited for a chaplain's role.

When James hears the part where we leave the cabin in such a hurry, I don't think to bring my Bible, he regards me kindly, and says, "I'll see to it that you get one today before the surgery.  That's a promise."

I am grateful beyond words!

James lingers much longer than we expect, and we are both so happy he does; he is amazing company!  Finally, we join hands and, though I can't remember exactly what James speaks in prayer, Danny and I are instantly filled with God's peace and assurance.

And in the midst of uncertainty, we can rejoice.

To be continued . . .

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

"I Say a Little Prayer for You"


James 5:16b
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

In the midst of my recap of our "vacation" in North Carolina, my husband, Danny, suffered a setback with his new pacemaker due to a severe infection.  I simply could not continue with the story here until we had some positive resolution.  Praise the Lord, we have!  After enduring two surgeries in a week's time, Danny is back home and improving every day.  And even though you now have a sneak peek at the final outcome, I hope the encounters and revelations from our North Carolina experience shared here will inspire and encourage you in your walk with the Lord.

I am back in Danny's hospital room after my successful Walmart run, delighted to see that Dr. H. has arrived with good news.  Surgery for the needed pacemaker is slated for 12:30 tomorrow (Wednesday)!  Having a definite time frame at last, I am anxious to contact family and friends to keep Danny in prayer, and though we haven't attended our church in months since the dissolution of our band, I'm still active on the prayer chain.  I promptly email the coordinator all the information.

"But are you sure that's all right to do?"  Danny queries after I tell him the prayer chain has been alerted.

"Honey, just because we haven't been attending church doesn't mean these people don't care about you, about us," I assure him.  "And don't you agree that we need all the prayers we can get right now?"

"I can't argue with that," he says, and adds wistfully, "I wish we could go back there, but there's no way I can.  Just can't let go of the hurt, you know?"

I squeeze his hand understandingly.  "It's hard to forgive, isn't it?  But hanging onto the grief will only end up harming you."

"I know, I know," Danny says, not without some frustration.  "I'm just not ready.  Not yet."

We chat away the afternoon as the friendly nurses come and go at regular intervals.  Although he doesn't want me to leave, Danny urges me to get going around five o'clock so I can once again indulge in the complimentary food and beverages at the hotel.  I don't want to leave him either, but with as much money as this "vacation" is costing us, who am I to argue with free?

Back at the hotel, I happily run into Claudia again in the dining area.  It is such a joy to reconnect with her, and not have to dine alone.  We talk about family and work like we've known each other all our lives.  I can feel the mercy of God reaching out to me through her kind company, and I do hope my presence is as much of a gift to her.

I return to my room after dinner, still wishing the Gideons hadn't let me down, but so gratified to have clean pajamas to sleep in and fresh clothes for the next two days.  And unexpectedly, but oh, so welcomed, a deep, abiding sense of calm settles in my bones.  Worries about tomorrow, subdued in Claudia's companionship, completely melt away.  Is Danny sensing the same?

"How are you feeling, honey?"  I ask as soon as Danny answers his phone.

"Believe it or not, peaceful," he says.  "I'm not concerned about the surgery at all.  What will be will be."

"It's the prayers!"  I exclaim.  "We're covered with them!  I feel that same peace, too!"

And if ever either of us doubted the immense power of intercessory prayer in the past, those doubts vanished that day as morning mist in the sunlight.

Thanks be to God!

To be continued . . .

Thursday, April 27, 2017

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 Jesus.

My friends, I'm not sure when I will share a new post here at Meditations of My Heart after this one.  The day this is published is the day my husband, Danny, undergoes surgery to remove his pacemaker because of infection.  The doctors will have to give him an external device until he is completely healed, and they can then give him a permanent pacemaker, so he will likely be in the hospital most of this coming week.

What we need at this time is prayer.  Lots of it!  Prayers have already been pouring in, and both Danny and I have felt the comfort and peace of God through the intercession of others on our behalf.  

But we know we need continued prayers to see us through the coming week and you, my dear friends, are exactly the right ones to do this!  Oh, and please feel free to share our needs on your church prayer chain or Bible study group, and share my blog to your Facebook feed.  Any word, breathed in prayer, is a blessing to those being prayed for.

We don't understand all that is happening and cannot fathom the "why" of it all.  It isn't a circumstance that immediately elicits a urge to be thankful, yet we are called to be thankful in all things.  To rejoice always.  To pray without ceasing.

Because Christ Jesus is our Savior, the One who laid down His life for our transgressions, and was raised to life that we might live eternally, and forgiven, with Him; that is reason enough for us to be glad and grateful to God no matter where we find ourselves.  It is why we have hope even on the bleakest of days and under the most crushing of circumstances.

Know that Danny and I thank each and every one of you for your love and your prayers.  If you leave a comment below, it might take a day or two for me to respond, but rest assured, I will get to all of them.

May God's peace reign in your hearts, and may His blessings continue to flow in your lives, dear ones!  You are all precious children of God!





Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Surprise!


Romans 8:26
The Spirit helps us with our weakness.  We do not know how to pray as we should.  But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us with deep feelings that words cannot explain.

God's surprises heal with a loving tenderness, especially in the times we are most vulnerable.  When I realize I can't do it, I have nothing left - God comes to where I am, in my greatest need.  He meets me in my weakness, takes me in his arms with astonishing love and mercy.  ~Jean Wise, Healthy Spirituality 

This is the sixth installment in my series about our recent "vacation" in North Carolina.  You can read the previous five under April in the Blog Archives on the right hand side of this page.

I wake.  I shower.  I dress in day-old clothes.  I need coffee.  Now.  Before breakfast.  I need fresh air.

I need to pray.

The words are not there.  I do not know how to pray as I should, but God, through His Holy Spirit, hears my groans.  He intervenes and prays for me when words are inadequate.  This experience is more humbling than I care to admit.  Didn't You give me the gift of writing, Lord?  Why wouldn't I have the words?  Why would You withhold them?

Because He is the God of surprises, healing me when I am the most helpless, meeting me in my weakness, finding me in the lowly place, and calling me to look up.  Up to Him.

I do, but then close my eyes.  A tear escapes.  Is this another day of waiting, or will Danny have surgery?

Saying thanks to God and trusting in His plans, I hastily eat the hotel's breakfast (the bacon rates a 10 on the Martha Meter), then it's out the front doors to call an Uber and return to the hospital.

Danny is chipper and upbeat, unlike the plodding of his heart, and we are elated to be reunited.  We chat about our previous evening's experiences, and he is so glad to hear how well I am being treated at Homewood, and that I've made friends with Claudia, who will be staying the this week on business.  "It makes me feel so much better knowing you have someone to talk to in the evenings," Danny says.  "Let's hope we'll hear some good news about the surgery soon.  And no matter what, you need to take an Uber to the nearest Walmart for some new clothes and phone chargers.  We can't keep borrowing them."

"Tell me about it," I say.  "It's disgusting to have to wear the same outfit I had on yesterday, but I'm sure the hospital staff has seen and smelled worse!"

"No doubt," Danny says with a laugh.  "But you always smell good to me."

It isn't long after this exchange that Dr. H., the cardiologist, pays a visit.  "We couldn't schedule for today," he says regretfully, "but we have you slated for tomorrow at 12:30."  We are disappointed, but not disheartened.  It will all happen in God's timing, the only timing we can trust.

I am off to Walmart, and miracle of miracles, this store is in the midst of a refurbishing; every associate, it seems, is out there on the floor and ready to help for a change.  More angels?  Yes, indeed!  I am guided to every aisle and assisted in every need, especially when it comes to the phone cables.  I have no clue!  But by the time I reach check-out, I've been helped more times than I can count, and am feeling so blessed to have found the exact items we need to ride out our Asheville stay.

As I board the Uber, with my first female driver, a person still attached to the "Flower Child" lifestyle, I'm given the opportunity to share my faith with her as I describe Danny's situation.  She seems receptive, open even.  And we exchange hugs once she has delivered me safely to St. Joseph's.

Oh, Lord, I hope the witness I gave makes an impact upon this one dear soul!

Because isn't that what we're called to do?  Bear witness to the love of Christ for this sinful and broken world?  It isn't easy when the words escape us.  When we have to depend on the Spirit to intervene on our behalf.

But He, the God of surprises, will shine through and shine forth.

And sometimes, hugs speak louder than words.

~

I have every intention of completing this series in the coming weeks, but because of a new situation Danny and I are currently facing, I'm going to have to take a break.  Although the original surgery went well, Danny has, unfortunately, developed an infection around the wound site and will have to have a second surgery this coming Friday.  We would most appreciate your prayers, dear friends, for a successful operation and perfect healing this time around.  Thank you!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Angels We Have Heard . . . Right Here!


Psalm 91:11-12
For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Hebrews 13:2
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

This is the fifth installment of my series regarding my husband, Danny, and our most unexpected "vacation."  You can find the first four listed at the right side of this page under Blog Archive, April.

It is almost 6 o'clock in the evening.  Danny has made phone calls to his family (not his mother as she would be worried witless) and work about our sudden turn of events, and I've reached my mom at our 5:30 daily rendezvous.  She is, needless to say, in shock, and so sorry to hear of all that has transpired.  It takes every ounce of will power I have not to dissolve into tears while speaking with her.

Danny notices my distress after I hang up, and takes my hand.  "This has been a long day.  You need dinner and rest.  Don't worry about me.  I'll be fine."

As much as I hate to leave, I know Danny's right.  I really need to eat.  I would love a glass of wine right about now, just to help me relax, and let the worries and pressures of this most eventful day take a back seat, if only for one evening.  I kiss Danny good-bye, promising to be back as soon as I can in the morning.

And I realize, as I stand outside the hospital entrance, summoning an Uber, how vulnerable I suddenly am.  A woman alone, in an unfamiliar city, relying upon the kindness and assistance of strangers, is not at all a comforting feeling.  I find myself wishing with all my might that this is just a bad dream, one from which I will wake up any minute and find myself in the cabin with Danny, sitting on the porch rockers, gazing at the breathtaking mountain views.

God knows I'm on the verge of a full-fledged pity party.  That is not in His plans.  I've got you, Martha.  Everything is fine.  I'll never leave nor forsake you.  Just watch . . .

I watch, but I don't see them at first.  It's not until I'm about ready to turn in for the night, opening every drawer in hopes of finding Gideon's Bible, when the light breaks through.  Angels!  God, You sent angels, one after the other, all evening long!  Have I entertained them, unaware?


  • The Uber driver, who upon hearing my plight, promises to pray for Danny and me, and share our situation with the prayer group he leads at his church.
  • The clerks at the Hampton Inn, where I mistakenly think I'd booked my room, only to find out it is at Homewood Suites on the same road.  They, too, hear my story as tears well in my eyes, and quickly assure me that because both hotels are under the Hilton umbrella, a shuttle will be sent for directly.
  • The shuttle driver, who is also a concierge at Homewood, is not just sympathetic, but guarantees me that her staff is ready to help in any way possible.  "We have a complimentary buffet with free wine and beer going on right now.  There's only about thirty minutes left, so don't worry about checking in until you've had something to eat and drink."  Free???  Did she say free?  Now I don't have to leave the hotel yet again to find dinner!  "And there is a complimentary breakfast in the morning, so don't miss it."  Can we say, "Heaven?"
  • As I'm enjoying a savory meal and a glass of cabernet, I notice this same woman saying something to several members of the buffet staff.  I think nothing of it until a young server brings me a to-go cup with its lid on right before dinner closes.  Curious, I open it only to find it filled to the brim with wine!  Uh-oh!  This is going to be an all-evening sipper!  Another miracle at the wedding at Cana?
  • When I finally get around to checking in, the young woman at the desk makes me feel right at home, and will procure a toothbrush and toothpaste for me momentarily.  Lifesaver!
  • Once in my room, I make a few short, but necessary, calls to family, trying to conserve my cell phone's power.  The conversations are comforting, but emotional.  I feel I need some fresh air.  Teary-eyed, I press the elevator button.  When the doors open, there is one woman inside.  I press the "G" for ground, but up we go!  We both laugh when I admit I must have pushed the "up" button instead of the "down."  Later, when I'm sitting outside on the hotel patio, this same woman shows up, introduces herself as "Claudia," and asks if she can join me.  As God would have it, she is also a Christian.  We talk for over an hour, and I'm so grateful for her company on an evening that was fast beginning to feel unbearably lonely.
Yes!  God, in His great mercy, sends me angels this night; little do I know then that He would continue to do so throughout our stay in Asheville.  But now, I understand how to watch for them, to be aware of their abiding presence.

I might not see wings, but God grants me the grace to see their hearts.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Hurry Up and Wait


Psalm 27:14
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

This is part four of a series about what happened to my husband, Danny, and me while we were on "vacation."  To read parts 1 - 3, click on the three most recent blogs displayed on the right hand side of this page.

Once at the St. Joseph's campus (Mission, where the actual surgery takes place, is full), the ambulance crew wastes no time getting Danny to a room that's been prepared for his arrival.  We are visited in turn by an array of nurses, who hook him to an IV, a heart monitor, and run various routine checks.  To a person, each one is friendly, welcoming, and most sympathetic when they hear the story of how we ended up in Asheville in the first place.  I imagine they are envisioning how they would feel if faced with the same unexpected predicament.

We are advised by Danny's chief nurse that the general doctor for the floor and the head cardiologist will be paying him a visit, most likely in the afternoon.  It is now lunch time, and Danny and I are both ravenous.  When the nurse announces that his lunch will be delivered shortly, I get directions to the cafeteria, fix a salad to go, and hoof it back up to the room.

As we eat, my eyes keep wandering to the heart monitor display - 40 . . . 41 . . . 39 . . .40 . . . 40.  So flat.  So slow.  So scary!  I put on a brave face for Danny's sake, but on the inside, all I can think about is crying.  How painful it is to see this man I love propped up in a hospital bed with all those tubes and wires!  Yet in spite of all he is and might be facing, Danny maintains his good humor.

And we both hold out hope, huge (my word for the year) hope, as we share the same feeling that what's happening is all in God's plan.  We simply have to be strong, and wait on His timing.

And wait on being seen by the promised doctors.  >Sigh!<  Time may seem to fly in the outside world, but when you're cooped up in a hospital room, it definitely slows to a crawl.  To pass the time, Danny helps me locate a hotel not two miles from the hospital, one with reasonable rates, at least for Asheville, home of Biltmore Estates, a year-round tourist mecca.  I make my reservation reluctantly, not wanting to leave Danny later that day, but knowing if I don't get a square meal and a good night's sleep, I will be worthless the following day.

The next step is loading the Uber app on my phone.  Danny goes through this step by step so I won't be confused when it comes time to actually use it.  That's when we notice that our phones are losing power - fast!  We have to find chargers somewhere in the hospital as the phones, especially mine for securing transportation, are our life lines.

A hasty visit to the nearest nurses' station and, miracle of miracles, the staff scurries around and, in short order, presents us with the very chargers we need to keep our phones alive and kicking!  We are definitely in good and caring hands here.

But still, the afternoon wears on with no sign of either doctor.  Danny shows his first sign of irritation.  "I wonder why they made such a fuss about transporting us up here in a hurry.  The doctors don't seem overly anxious now, do they?"

"They'll be here, honey," I reassure him, though I'm getting impatient myself.  "And I think we should take it as good news that they aren't in a mad rush to get to you.  It must mean they think you are stable for the moment."

"I guess you're right," Danny concedes.  "I sure could use a good cup of coffee; this hospital stuff stinks."

"There's a coffee shop downstairs in the lobby," I tell him.  "I'll go get us both a cup."  (Just know, this establishment's coffee is so good, it puts Starbucks on notice!)

By the time I return, Dr. M., the overseeing physician, is chatting with Danny.  He is a congenial fellow with an easy smile and a relaxed persona.  He places both of us at ease.

He's not gone thirty minutes when the cardiologist, Dr. H., makes his appearance.  He, too, is affable, though more on the serious side.  He is the one who painstakingly explains two facts about Danny's condition of which we were uninformed to that point:  What a third degree block to the heart actually means (see Voice of the Lord for the description), and that his current defibrillator is actually maintaining his pulse, as low as it is.

"I've already spoken with your cardiologist in Atlanta," Dr. H. says, "and he concurred that we should go ahead with surgery to replace your defibrillator with an actual pacemaker.  We are hoping to get you into Mission tomorrow, but that all depends on the anesthesiologist's schedule.  At the latest, we'll do the procedure on Wednesday.  Who knows?  Maybe you'll actually have a chance to spend time at that cabin after all."

Dr. H.'s optimism breathes new life into the hope we already hold.

And we are thankful once again that God has brought us to this place.

To be continued . . .

Birds of a Feather

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in...