Friday, July 20, 2018

Happy Birthday, Mom!


Proverbs 17:6
Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.

Even though the photo above is taken eight years ago, my mother, Nancy, looks very much the same now as she did then.  (Regrettably, I don't think I inherited those genes!)  We are blessed that Mom's health is exceptionally good - she still drives, does her own shopping, and makes homemade bread that's to die for!  Her only age-related ailment is hearing loss, but the hearing aids, though far from perfect, do help.  All things considered, it's hard to believe she will be turning 90 on July 28th!

We will be celebrating Mom's birthday at her home on that day.  She will be surrounded by children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who all love her.  I do wish, though, that my Dad, Bill, was still here to mark this milestone with us.



That being said, I will not be blogging next week.  I will be driving to Oxford mid-week to help my brother plan for Saturday's festivities.  And as usual when in the land of unreliable internet, I won't be making my regular rounds to all my blogging buddies.

But hang in there!  I'll be back soon, hopefully with a passel of family photos and sweet, precious memories to share with you.

Until then, may God bless and keep you in His love and grace.

Amen!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

He Is Passing By . . .


1 Kings 19:11-13
The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by."
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

Last Tuesday, I receive a most unexpected and remarkable gift.

I arrive home after dropping granddaughter, Virginia Rose, at an activities camp at our church and running an additional errand to an uncharacteristically quiet house.  Husband, Danny, has taken MIL to her dentist in Cartersville to get her bridge repaired.

When I open the door from garage to downstairs, I'm immediately made aware - there is no whirring and sighing from the oxygen generator!

Silence.

As I ascend the stairs to our main floor, no sound of television or conversation disturbs the peace.

Silence.

The hush is so complete, the momentary interruption of ice cubes dropping in the freezer sounds like a clanging cymbal.

The silence, profound and pervasive, commands my full attention.

And unmistakably, I hear God whisper:  Enjoy this moment.  Live into it.  I made it for you.

I am speechless . . .

And in that instant, I know I'm standing not on the wood floor of my humble home.  I am standing on Holy Ground.

Eyes closed.  Breathing deeply, steadily.  I mouth the words, "Thank you, Lord."

Silence.

He is passing by . . .

Amen!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Be Kind


Psalm 141:3
Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.

Proverbs 15:4
Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.

In a recent post at his blog, Cycleguy's Spin, Pastor Bill writes about the danger of rumors in the church.  I couldn't agree more.  Rumors are the kissin' cousins of gossip.  Even when we think the "news" we're telling others isn't necessarily negative or demeaning to the person being talked about, we too often fail to stop and ask ourselves, "Would I say this to the person's face?"  If the answer is "no," and too often it is, better run, and fast, in the opposite direction!

Bill's post reminds me of a wonderful life lesson the children learn at Vacation Bible School this summer.  Granddaughter, Virginia Rose, volunteers during Missions time to take part in a demonstration that illustrates the importance of the words we speak.  Miss Serena and Miss Sandy, sitting on either side of Virginia, squeeze some toothpaste onto a paper plate.  Virginia's task?  Using a toothpick, get that toothpaste back in the tube!



Of course, as we all know, that's an impossible feat.  Once the paste is out there, it's out there!

And so it is with our words.

The children understand the significance of guarding what comes out of their mouths, and are encouraged to daily offer kind words that heal and help others instead of wounding them.



In this day and age of divisiveness in politics and constant spewing of vitriol on the news and social media, words of kindness, consideration and caring are needed more than ever.  So let's not succumb to the rumors, the gossip, the heated exchanges.  Instead, let us commit to spreading the Good News of God's love through Christ Jesus.

Let us choose, as Virginia has, to be kind.

Amen!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Supercuts!


John 15:1-2
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

Pictured above is our granddaughter, Virginia's, hair after I've washed, conditioned and de-tangled it.  Ugh!  I can tell right away that she is in dire need of a trim.

"Virginia," I announce, "we're going to Supercuts in the morning.  We've got to get rid of those ragged split ends."

"But Gammie, I like my long hair," she protests.  "You won't let the hair cut lady take off too much, will you?"

"No, I won't, honey," I assure her.  Though I think to myself it would probably be best to lop of at least three inches from her tresses, I promise Virginia that we'll only remove an inch and a half.

When we arrive at Supercuts, I tell the hairdresser how much to trim from Virginia's hair.  She readily cooperates, but not before explaining to us that the persistent knots and snarls are due as much to chlorine exposure, which dries out the shafts, as it is to split ends.  "We have a special shampoo and conditioner designed for kids who do lots of swimming in the summer.  I highly recommend these for her."

Of course, she would!  And of course, this Gammie purchases both at the end of our visit, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

First, it's the actual haircut!









Ah!  Now that's better!  Virginia loves her new look, especially since the length has been preserved to a great degree.  And she is so happy to be able to comb it out herself, painlessly, for a change.


~

In light of Virginia's recent "pruning," maybe it's time we examine the spiritual health of our hearts and minds.  Are there emotional tangles?  Snarled thoughts?  Stubborn knots of pain or fear?

Let God in!  Allow Him to clip away at those negative "split ends" that keep us from being fully connected to Him.

In God's capable hands, a little trim goes a long way.  He will give us the ultimate Supercut!

Amen!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

God Bless America!


Psalm 33:12
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ~Declaration of Independence

Happy Birthday, America!  Tomorrow, July 4th, we will commemorate 242 years of independence from Great Britain.  And while many of our celebrations will focus on family gatherings, parades, cookouts, and fireworks, it's also a time to reflect upon the astounding foresight our Founding Fathers had in creating these two documents:  The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution, which they hoped and prayed would keep this country governed by and for the people for generations to come.

So instead of composing an original post today, I choose to share with you some Biblical wisdom quoted from American presidents through the years, statements which confirm that historically, we are "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

The reason that Christianity is the best friend of government is because Christianity is the only religion that changes the heart. ~Thomas Jefferson

We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it.  We have stoked the whole of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the commandments of God.  The future and success of America is not in this Constitution, but in the laws of God upon which this Constitution is founded. ~James Madison

The Bible is the first and almost the only book deserving of universal attention. ~John Quincy Adams

Finally, it is my most fervent prayer to that Almighty Being before whom I now stand, and who has kept us in His hands from the infancy of our Republic unto the present day, that He will so overrule all my intentions and actions and inspire the hearts of my fellow-citizens that we may be preserved from dangers of all kinds and continue forever a united and happy people. ~Andrew Jackson

I am profitably engaged in reading the Bible.  Take all of this Book upon reason that you can, and the balance by faith, and you will live and die a better man. ~Abraham Lincoln

All must admit that the reception of the teachings of Christ results in the purist patriotism, in the most scrupulous fidelity to public trust, and in the best type of citizenship. ~Grover Cleveland

A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education. ~Theodore Roosevelt

Without God there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life.  Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first, the most basic expression of Americanism.  Thus, the Founding Fathers of America saw it, and thus with God's help, we will continue to be. ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God. ~John F. Kennedy

If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under. ~Ronald Reagan

America is a nation of believers and together we are strengthened by the power of prayer . . . Our rights are not given to us by men, our rights are given to us by our Creator.  No matter what, no earthly force can take those rights away. ~Donald J. Trump

I close this post with a prayer I cherish in these recent time in America that try men's and women's souls:  If my people called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. ~2 Chronicles 7:14

May God bless America, and may we be the people He has chosen for His inheritance.

Amen!

Friday, June 29, 2018

She Has Shine!


James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Before moving in with us, MIL resides in Cartersville, Georgia, just a 40 minute drive north of Kennesaw.  Once a week, my husband, Danny, and I trek up to her house to collect the mail and run errands for her as long as my son, Daniel, can arrange to take off work to stay with her while we're gone.

MIL tells us several weeks ago about a special cashier at her local Ingles grocery store named Barbara.  She is adamant that Danny pick up several items at the store, and search for this inspiring lady in the check-out line, especially to let her know why MIL hasn't been shopping there since January.

"Barbara saw me struggling with the handicapped carts one day, and quickly came over to help.  She inquired about my health issues, and I told her, 'COPD and heart problems.'  Right away, she laid a hand on my shoulder, and I don't like the feel of a stranger's hand on my shoulder, but somehow, I didn't mind this at all.  Then Barbara asked, 'May I pray for you?'  It took me by surprise and took my breath away in the same moment.  'Of course,' I said.  And oh, the indescribable feeling that overwhelmed me as she spoke words I can't recall, but that touched me to the core of my being!  Every time I visited Ingles after that, when I checked out with Barbara, she always offered to pray over me and with me.  I welcomed each one.  Barbara has a gift from God."

Growing up in the deep South in the 1930's and 1940's, MIL has distinct recollections of the phraseology employed by the African-American residents in her community when describing someone filled with the Holy Spirit:  "He/She has shine!"  MIL admits that as a child, she didn't understand the concept beyond its literal meaning, but came to know it later in life.

Danny and I have, too.

Through Barbara.

The first Ingles run after the Barbara request is done by Danny alone.  I'm feeling inclined to listen to the radio as there is no guarantee that the cashier in question will even be working.  When Danny returns, I detect tears in his eyes.  "I did see Barbara," he says.  "She dropped everything and prayed with me."

Oh, boy, did I miss out!  I vow not to make that mistake again.

So this past Tuesday, when we do the Cartersville run, I am all in to meet this amazing woman, willing to God that she will be there so I can thank her for her prayers for MIL, and bless her, too.

God, in His great grace, answers my prayer.



I introduce myself to Barbara, who greets every customer with a "How are you today, baby?" that sounds not in the least demeaning, but like an invitation to intimacy.  Of course, she acknowledges remembering Danny, then after ringing up our purchases, asks me for my hands across the check signing counter to take hers.

They are at once warm, sincere, compelling.  God's Holy Spirit is in their embrace.  Like MIL, I can't recall the words she prays, but the power . . . Oh, the power of God is in those hands, and it's a vibrant, pulsating sensation I will never forget.  Barbara's gift is overwhelming!

Even the printing of the grocery receipt pauses before the prayer is complete, and we share a laugh over this, a welcome respite from the tears threatening to flow on both sides.

And in this day and age, when so many businesses discourage employees from sharing their faith, my hat is off to Ingles for allowing Barbara, this unique, compassionate disciple of Christ, to freely express her love for others on His behalf.

She has shine . . .

Shine on, Barbara, shine on!

Amen!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Freedom!


Galatians 5:1
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Freedom.

What does that word mean to you?  Think about it for a moment.  Does it allow you to say or do whatever you wish?  Or, is it a concept derived from God's eternal truths?

In watching granddaughter, Virginia Rose, chasing fireflies in our back yard, her "jailing" jar in hand,


I know that both she and I learn a God-given lesson, one given voice by her own admission:  "I don't need to capture the fireflies in this.  I just want to feel them on my hands and set them free."



Freedom.

As a grandmother, I'm bursting with pride that Virginia is beginning to realize, with a heart growing in understanding, that all of God's creation is precious in His sight, and should be in ours.  I recall the days when we would embark on our firefly hunts, with the obligatory air-hole punctured container, only for her to beg to allow them to stay in her room overnight.  The next morning did not produce a pretty picture.  Maybe those not-so-good memories have finally done the trick.

Freedom.

We find an errant firefly, confused and disoriented, in our house.  It's catch and release time for Virginia!  She reclaims her previous prison to now safely enclose the precious bug.


After its capture, Virginia retreats to our deck to allow the firefly to breathe and reclaim the environment into which it was born.




Before it flees, it seems to be giving thanks.


Freedom.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Free from the burden of sin and death.  Free to become all that God intends for us as His children.

Let us ever treasure this freedom, and never cease to give thanks to the Lord for His great love for us.

Amen!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Strong and Courageous


Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

If you are a regular follower of Meditations of My Heart, you've been introduced to Stumpy, aka David, in this previous post.  I hope my new readers will take a moment to visit this offering before plunging into this one, but if not, here's a short recap:  Stumpy is a squirrel, who is, sadly, missing most of his tail.  He is rather shy and reclusive; we are fortunate to spot him at all in our yard, let alone get a photo.  And it seems he will visit the ground beneath our sunflower seed-filled bird feeders only when all the other squirrels are napping, so his presence goes unnoticed.  He is, as it were, an outcast, and seems painfully aware of his place in the pecking order in the fiefdom of squirrels.

But when my MIL ventures onto our deck several days ago for some fresh air, she spies Stumpy beneath the bird feeders, seeking seeds like any normal squirrel.  When a full-tailed squirrel decides to vie for his territory, Stumpy doesn't sound the usual retreat as he does in this photo:


Glomming onto the nearest tree trunk, holding Ninja still, he reminds me of the toddler who covers her eyes in front of her family, and declares, "You can't see me!"

No!  This time, Stumpy challenges his would-be bully, not once, but twice, successfully chasing off his potential oppressor!

Where did he get the courage?  The fortitude?  When did he realize that he has the same rights as his long-tailed brothers and sisters to share in the generous feast we provide?

Some questions in life will always go unanswered, won't they?  I'm just so overjoyed to know that Stumpy now stands up for himself, boldly and unequivocally, no longer on the outs with his kind, and confident that he has every right to belong in the niche God has provided.

And you, too, my friends, have every right to belong in your niche - that of a treasured and beloved child of God.  Don't let the enemy tell you otherwise.  When fearful or discouraging thoughts cloud your mind, remember what God has commanded:  Be strong and courageous!

For God is with us, wherever we go.

Amen!
~

Because of upcoming events these next two weeks, I will be taking a break from blogging for the time being.  Should have lots of news and photos to share with you when I return, so stay tuned and enjoy your summer!  Love and blessings!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Heading in the Right Direction


Virginia is ready for a road trip!

Psalm 119:59-60
I thought about the wrong direction in which I was headed, and turned around and came running back to you.

Late last year, while MIL is still doing well and living in her own home, Danny and make the trek together to Oxford to pay my mother a long-overdue, overnight stay.  We agree to avoid the interstate at all costs, even though it means the trek will take longer, about an hour and a half longer than if we opt for the other take-your-life-in-your-hands route.

We arrive relaxed and rested, instead of tense and stressed.  What could be better than that?  Still, Danny has a hunch that there could be an even shorter way to drive home.  Smart phone in hand, he peruses Google maps for possible paths to try.

When I see him beaming, I know at once Danny has struck gold.  "It's fairly convoluted," he admits, "but I'm positive this way I've discovered will cut down on both time and miles for us."

Of course, I'm delighted, and can't wait to see what unfolds on this new journey.  After all, I think, how complicated can it really be?  Well, for this directionally-challenged woman, who barely understands how to use maps on my cell phone, I am definitely propelled way beyond my cognitive comfort zone.

This turns out, indeed, to be a pleasantly rural, and for the most part, intersection-fee ride, but I find myself thanking the Lord repeatedly that Danny's phone speaks the directions to him loud and clear.  All the twists and turns, the changes in road names, even though they continue straight on, only serve to confound and confuse me.

And when if comes to driving this route with granddaughter, Virginia Rose, I'm a bundle of nerves.  I don't trust my phone to work as it should, so Danny prints out written instructions for me.  I can't tell you how many times I read and reread them before taking off.

Still, I'm feeling some trepidation, especially since I have such precious cargo on board with me.

I hate to confess this, but even with the printed instructions, I miss a turn here and there.  (Yes, it's okay to laugh at this juncture.)  But I pull over, consult the route once again, and correct my course, not without offering a prayer, or two, or three, for the guidance I need to reach my destination.

And reach it, we finally, and with great relief, do.

I don't know about you, but there is nothing more discombobulating to me than to be lost, heading in the wrong direction, not sure of the landmarks I need to note or how many miles to travel before expecting the next bend in the road.  But I do know, for sure and certain, that when the vagaries of life coax me down the wayward path, the wrong direction, I can always rely on God's faithful map to bring me home:  the Bible.

His Word turns me around, and has me running, full tilt, back to Him.

And it can do the same for you.

For no matter how lost we may feel in the moment, God will always show us, lovingly and eagerly, the right direction for our lives.

Amen!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Good and Faithful Servant


Matthew 25:21
"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share in your master's happiness!'"

This past Memorial Day weekend, granddaughter, Virginia Rose, and I return to Oxford for another visit with my mother.  My brother, Bill, informs me a week earlier that the American flags we placed a while back at our father's grave site have disappeared.  So I resolve to purchase new ones, so that Virginia and I can decorate the headstone in honor of Dad's service to this country many years ago.

While not old enough to enlist in WWII, the moment Dad turns 18, he eagerly signs up for the U. S. Army, and serves several tours of duty in post-war Germany.  It is the godsend of the G. I. Bill that affords Dad the opportunity for a college education, something he never dared dream about.

Dad earns a bachelor's degree and a Ph.D. in botany, teaches at Emory University for thirty years, is appointed as the Dean of Emory's Oxford College in 1988, where he remains until retiring in 1990.  But with such a stellar career, Dad always asserts that his service to our great country is responsible, in large part, for every success in his life.  And he taught us all to stand up proudly for the land of the free and the home of the brave.










Well done, Dad!  Thank you for your good and faithful service to so many during your lifetime.  We love you, and we will always remember.



Amen!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Rules and Regs


Matthew 28:23
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You give a tenth of your spices - mint, dill and cumin.  But you have neglected the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy and faithfulness.  You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

Last week, I open up my Blogger home page to an unexpected announcement from parent, Google.  Rules and regulations have invaded the blogosphere!!!  And I'd best comply.

Now, I do understand the inherent merit of this move; precautions must be taken to secure the privacy of email addresses, and assure subscribers that their information will not be compromised in any way, shape or form.  But Racer and I have a question:  Would you have even subscribed to Meditations of My Heart if you had the least inkling that your personal information would be jeopardized?

We think not!

However, just to make everything crystal clear per Google's instructions, we assure you of the following:


  • We will follow the guidelines of the GDPR (General Data Processing Regulation) as set forth by the EU.  This means that if you are a European subscriber to this blog, I will inform you if I ever collect any info from you, which I never intend to do.
  • Email addresses are for the sole purpose of receiving this blog to which you are subscribed, no matter what side of the pond you live on.
  • We promote nothing on this site except for The Glade Series and Adventures in The Glade; we are advertisement free.
  • We will never, ever sell your email addresses, or share with others without your explicit permission.
Okay, Google, how did I do?

Somehow, I feel like this offering is my mint, dill and cumin, not my justice, mercy and faithfulness.  Because if you follow Jesus as I do, rules and regulations aren't necessary.

As St. Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22-24:  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such thing there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Against such things there is no law . . .

But Jesus also tells us to practice the latter, without neglecting the former; the latter should spring forth from the former when one is devoted to the Lord.

Because once we become Christians, rules and regulations don't have to be spelled out.

They are lived out.

Amen!


Friday, May 25, 2018

And the "Hen Award" Goes To . . .


Matthew 23:37
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

Our granddaughter, Virginia Rose, recently celebrates Awards Day with her fellow second grade classmates.  As you can tell by these photos, this is on exciting time for her!







Refreshments add to the festive atmosphere, and Virginia, as always, ends up wearing a bit of what she's eaten.





Virginia's teacher, Ms. R., has created a marvelous slideshow featuring photos of her class from year's beginning to end.  Of course, all the students are enthralled.



Every student receives a Certificate of Participation, par for the course in this day and age, but it does allow parents and grandparents a fantastic photo-op.







Ms. R. also gives two folders to each of her students, documenting their best work throughout the year.  How thoughtful and caring of her!  A priceless keepsake, and a wonderful way to allow the children to see how far they have come in just one school year.





But of all the accolades of the day, Virginia and I are proudest of this one:





Taking care of her friends . . .

Wow!

And this award suits Virginia to a "T."  She is always reaching out to others, making friends out of strangers, caring for others' feelings, willing to lend an ear or a comforting hug to anyone in need.

Jesus longs to do the same.

Are you willing to let Him?

Amen!


~

It's Memorial Day weekend, and the official arrival of summer break for Virginia, so she and I are heading to my mother's home in Oxford for several days.  I do so treasure your comments on my blog, my friends, but my response will be delayed due to being out of town.  Never fear!  I will get back to you just as soon as possible.  Blessings for a safe and happy weekend, and may we remember to pray and give thanks for all the men and women who died in service to our country.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Proverbs 17:6 Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children. Even though the photo abov...