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!


Moving Mountains

Matthew 17:20 He replied, "Because you have so little faith.  Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you ca...