Friday, September 20, 2019

Ancient Bones


Ezekiel 37:1-3
The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.  He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.  He asked me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"
I said, "Sovereign Lord, you alone know."


The heat oppressive
Descends and lingers
Far beyond longing
For ancient bones
To welcome warmth
Disorienting
Words without
Meaning emerge
Disconcerting
To those discerning
Listening, praying
Because the time
Remaining? Uncertain
Stakes are high
Beyond knowing
Tenaciously touching
The face of God
And sadly wondering
If that is the aim
Or even want
Of ancient bones.

Amen

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Thirsting for God


Psalm 63:1
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

As I pen this post, we, here in Kennesaw, Georgia, have experienced 64 summer days with temperatures over 90.  Yes, summers are hot in our part of the country, but not to this extreme.  We are on track for the hottest September on record!

All last week, with no rain in sight, my husband, Danny, has to resort to watering our moss to keep it from decline.  He's worked so hard to help it thrive during and after the droughts of 2010, 2012 and 2016, he's not about to give up on it now.

Our current crop of squirrels is adding to Danny's frustration.  They think it's fun to claw up the moss and roll around in the dirt revealed by such activity.  Hey, Racer!  Can you come and teach these upstarts a lesson?  Danny is spending as much time tamping the moss back into place as he is with timing sprinklers.







One step forward, two steps back . . .

Oh, how we crave a genuine downpour of refreshing, rejuvenating rain!  Gazing at a hazy blue sky, day after day, reminds us of how parched and dry the land is at the moment.  A land longing for a substantial cloudburst to revive it.

And it begs the question:  Are we thirsting, too?  Not for the rain, but for the Living Water?  The only water guaranteed to quench our longings?  Our hearts' desires?

How many moments in our day are we dedicated to prayer, to studying God's Word, to submitting to His will?  In my experience, when corners are cut, we become thirsty.  Parched.  We have disengaged from the one spigot that can hydrate us in both body and soul.

So, my hope today is that we pray for refreshment that only the Living Water can provide.

Drought on the outside can be remedied by human hands.

But drought on the inside can only be cured by our Father and His Son, Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.

Let us drink to that!

Amen!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

9/11


Philippians 4:7
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

School room trailer separates
From all visual communications
Radio on at planning time
Keeping company, until it's not
The buildings struck, unbelief
Shrinks in reality's evil presence
Thoughts of family, hearts and minds
What are my children thinking, suffering?
How I long to be with them!
I pray as stunned students drift
Through door, craving comfort, calm
The peace passing understanding
I have no words to offer, to fill
The void created by wanton acts
Of malice, violence, hate manifest
Because I'm speechless; choose to listen
We hug, we cry, we freely vent
And everyone hears, grieves.  Everyone
Because we need each other more
Than we imagined or intended
But God knew always, all along.

Where were you on 9/11?  Please share your thoughts and prayers in the comments below.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Heaven's Door


Jonah 3:1-3
Next, God spoke to Jonah a second time:  "Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh!  Preach to them.  They're in a bad way and I can't ignore it any longer."
This time, Jonah started off straight for Nineveh, obeying God's orders to the letter.

My husband, Danny, and I have talked for years about replacing our 25-year-old garage doors.  They are not efficiently insulated, as is the rest of our home is, and well, to be honest, they make a racket when opening and closing.  It's a soul-jolting, alarming sound that reverberates not just in the garage, but throughout the entire house.  Think living too close to frequently traveled train tracks.

However, new garage doors are not high on our priority list.  After all, the old ones still work, and new ones are definitely not cheap.  We choose to procrastinate.

Until . . .

That fateful night when a lightning bolt strikes two of our backyard pines.  Yep, the same one that knocks out our internet for almost three full days, fries the garage door sensors on Danny's side.  We can still open the door electronically, but closing it?  That's a whole other can of worms.  When Danny needs to leave, I have to stand in the garage, and hold the control button firmly in order for the door to shut completely.

This is not convenient for either one of us.

So, you guessed it!  Danny and I are up on our feet, ordering new doors for the garage.  Thankfully, they are installed this past week.


What an improvement!!!  I love the flat black finish on the steel doors; they match our roof and our front door perfectly.


And the added bonus?  The doors, when opening or closing, barely emit a whisper.  What an amazing difference!  Makes me wish we had done this a lot sooner than we finally did.

~

Jonah, the penultimate procrastinator, though called on a mission by God, refused to accept the invitation, seeking Tarshish as his destination instead of Nineveh.  It took three frightening, repentant days in the belly of the whale for Jonah to finally see the light, and follow God's instructions to the letter.

And it took a bolt from the blue wreaking havoc for Danny and me to wake up and realize that replacing the flimsy, raucous garage doors was a long-overdue necessity.

Drastic wake-up calls are not always the way God tells us to change our ways and obey Him.  His might be that still, small voice, that unanticipated thought nudging our conscience, or a door of opportunity revealed.  We must learn to listen, to heed and to follow when God beckons us forward.  Calls us to walk closer to Him.

When we accept the mission God is giving us, we can rest assured we are truly knocking on Heaven's door.

And that door is sure to open.

Amen!

Friday, September 6, 2019

The Work of Our Hands


Psalm 90:17
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us - yes, establish the work of our hands.

Man is never truly himself except when he is actively creating something. ~Dorothy L. Sayers

Our granddaughter, Virginia Rose, loves working with her hands, be it drawing or manipulating ordinary objects into extraordinary creations.  Do you recall these unique items she makes last April?



Since we are having Virginia over for the long Labor Day weekend, I decide it's time for this not so artsy-crafty Gammie to come up with an actual project for us to tackle together.  I think Christmas ornaments.  I know, I know, we're still months away from celebrating Jesus' birthday, but by starting early, I can rest assured that Virginia will have the time necessary to produce enough decorations to serve as gifts for her family.

Sure enough, I find a Christmas tree craft on line that is simple and colorful, and a trip to our local Michaels procures all the materials we need.


Virginia wastes no time in opening the packages and getting right to work.



I choose the pre-colored popsicle sticks to save us from having to paint our own.  Less mess, and more variety for our trees.



Virginia opts for the tradition green for her tree.




She is cutting out a small square for the tree trunk that I've traced on card stock paper.  In the meantime, I trace stars from a metal cookie cutter I have and save Virginia time by cutting those out myself.


Here come the pom-poms!




I let Virginia complete my rather unconventional Christmas tree.

And here are the final products!


The trees turn out just as we had hoped, and we give thanks to God for blessing the work or our hands.

Amen!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

All in the Moment

Matthew 15:28
Then Jesus said to her, "Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted."  And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Coming and going
Winning and knowing
Losing and grinning
All in the moment
Living and dying
Failing and trying
Again and again
All in the moment
Anguish and tears
Troubles and fears
Heads ugly, to rear
All in the moment
Hope of salvation
Divided nation
Healing from hurt
All in the moment
For in a moment
Past and future
Placed at odds
What has been
And what can be
Overshadowed
All in the moment

Amen

Friday, August 30, 2019

I Win, Gammie!


Luke 18:16
But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."

Our two oldest granddaughters, Virginia Rose and Savannah Jane, are both in school.  That leaves the youngest, Alexandra Nancy, as the only sibling left at home with her mom, my daughter, Sarah, during the school day.  When Sarah asks if I can babysit Alexandra so she can go to a routine doctor's appointment, I am over the moon!  This is the first time I've ever been with this precious girl alone without the company of her sisters.

I arrive with with my usual arsenal of games, ones that I played endlessly with Virginia when she was younger, a pack of crayons and some paper.  We are ready to party on!


We play all four games several times (sorry, no photos!), and Alexandra is thrilled when she wins more than she loses.  "I win, Gammie, I win!"  she shouts gleefully.  And for the most part, she does, fair and square.  True confession:  I hang back on the fishing game to let her get the edge on how many she captures, and I sift through the Candy Land deck once to make sure her next pick is the blue card required for a victory.  But can you blame me when I'm rewarded with a smile like this?


Next, we spend some time drawing.  I write Alexandra's name at the top of the page, and encourage her to copy the letters.


She does so quite well, though not in order.  That concept has yet to be grasped, but it is sure to come.  "What a great job you're doing, Alexandra!"  I exclaim.  "You keep practicing like that and you'll be more than ready for kindergarten next year."  Oh, how she beams!



Just before Sarah is due to arrive home, Alexandra and I are sitting on the couch together, watching the sweet movie, Air Buddies, when she points to my head and says, "Gammie, you have grey hair."  LOL!  Out of the mouths of babes!  Yes, I do have grey, but I think it's cleverly disguised by blonde highlights.  I guess not.  Children have such an uncanny talent for calling things as they are, don't they?

All in all, we have a terrific two hours together.  There's nothing like being around a child to feel one's own inner child renewed and refreshed.  Alexandra, I can truly say, brings out the best in me.

Because we can't be reminded enough that God's kingdom belongs to those who would enter it with trust, love and honesty.

If we can release the baggage we have accrued during this life and simply turn to Jesus, resting out heads on His shoulder, feeling His strong and comforting arms around us, we can declare, as Alexandra did, "I win!"

Amen!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Baconator!


Matthew 20:13-16
"But he answered one of them, 'I am not being unfair to you, friend.  Didn't you agree to work for a denarius?  Take your pay and go.  I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.'  So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Yep!  That's me in the picture above when it comes to bacon, no exaggeration!  Hot, warm or cold, I'll eat bacon whenever and where ever it's offered.  Just call me the "Baconator!"

So, it's no surprise that I fry up a batch every so often.  Not too often, mind you, as I don't desire it to become a daily thing, but often enough to get my fill of that smoky, crunchy, salty goodness.


What I've noticed over the countless times I've fixed bacon, is how long it takes for the first strips placed in the pan to cook to the appropriate color and crispness.  It seems like an eternity!

But when fresh strips are added to the pan, they are quicker to reach the required level of "done."


As you've probably already deduced, it's the fat rendered off, slowly but surely, by the initial bacon strips that aids in the faster frying of the newcomers.  Note the bacon on the left side of the pan in the next photo.  It is added probably about seven or eight minutes after the four starters in the center, but it appears almost as done as they are!


Almost seems unfair to the pioneers who did most of the work in readying the pan, doesn't it?

Yet, in the parable of the vineyard workers, Jesus turns our human conception of fairness on its head.  Whether we learn about God's love and grace as a child on our mother's lap, languishing in our last days, or at any point in between, God loves each and every one of us equally.  No differentiation.  No favoritism.

Just full acceptance as His child.

And like the bacon, which is delightful from first piece to last, so we are delightful to our Father, when we believe in and follow His Son.

Amen!

Friday, August 23, 2019

No Magic Required!


Virginia with Grandpa Paul

Matthew 6:9-10
"This, then, is how you should pray:  'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.'"

School, where we live, starts early - August 1 - to be exact.  That's not the case in so many other parts of the country, especially up north.  So when our granddaughter, Virginia Rose, is invited to join her Aunt Susan, Uncle Rantz, Grandpa Paul, and her cousins on a trip to Disney World, even though it means missing a week of school, her parents find it impossible to say, "No."

After all, it's Virginia's first visit to the Magic Kingdom, and at nine-years-old, she is guaranteed to make and keep precious memories to last a lifetime.








Wow!  Such a happy girl!  I can't wait until Virginia is back home, and can tell us all about her fabulous adventures at "The Most Magical Place on Earth!"

~

While Disney World may claim to be the Magic Kingdom, there is only one kingdom that eclipses all the rest in grandeur and majesty:  God's Kingdom.  The kingdom we long to experience here on earth when we pray The Lord's Prayer.

And you know what?  We can, and without traveling any farther than our own hearts and minds.  Let us open them wide to allow God's love and grace to flow into and through us, praying to do His will, caring for others as He cares for all of us.

If each of us would do these things, I think we'd find ourselves smack-dab in the midst of God's Kingdom.  

His Miracle Kingdom.

No magic required!

Amen!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Stay Connected!


John 15:5
I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.

Visiting with my mother, Nancy, in Oxford, Georgia, is always an enjoyable experience, but I can count on being technologically challenged when I'm there.  While she has a strong wi-fi signal at the house, her ancient computer is a pain; I don't even attempt to utilize it.

And don't get me started about the lousy phone service!  I get more dropped calls than a beginning juggler has dropped balls.

Thankfully, the era of non-tech at Mom's has come to a blissful end.


Yep!  Danny and I are the proud owners of a Chrome Book!  He finds it at a great bargain price back in July, when Amazon is having its Black Friday in summer sales.  Oh, what a relief to no longer feel disconnected from friends, family and fellow bloggers when I travel!

In fact, I'll be at Mom's today (Tuesday), and plan to stay until Friday.  So more than likely, my responses to any comments you leave here will arrive courtesy of the Chrome Book.  Plus, I'll be reading and commenting on all your blogs, too.  Such a welcome change from struggling to do the same on my phone!

~

As satisfying as it is to able to stay connected to the people we love, I'm reminded that the one connection we can't live without is our relationship with the Lord.  Jesus tells us that unless we abide in Him, we can bear no fruit.  A branch can do nothing without the support and nourishment the vine provides.

We need to hold fast to Jesus, and never, ever let go.

How is your connection with Jesus?  Maybe it's time to reflect on that.

Amen!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Be Joyful!


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.

I haven't needed a mouse pad for ages.  But the surface of my one-hundred-plus years, former drafting table upon which my computer perches has worn to an unresponsive sheen.  The answer?  Order that mouse pad, pronto!

Here is what arrives only two days after I place my order.  Are these deliveries fast, or what?



So far, I'm loving the gel-packed wrist pad that cradles that most vital part of my body when engaged in web surfing.  Such comfort!  Even more important than that, however, is the Bible verse featured that reminds to always be joyful, no matter what life slings at me.

Be joyful . . .

This has nothing to do with being happy in the moment to moment, the day to day.  Happiness is a feeling.

Joy is a promise.

It may be cliched to say, "Life isn't easy," but it's the truth.  Jesus said we would have troubles in this world, and oh, boy!  He wasn't kidding!

But Jesus gives us His peace, which passes all understanding, when we trust in Him.  It is in that secure, safe place where my joy resides.  Flourishes.  Even when the world unleashes its tempests, threatening to swamp my little life boat with gloom and sadness, my happiness may vanish, but my joy remains anchored to the One on whom all my hope rests.

Yes, troubles of all kinds may visit us in this lifetime, but they need not rob our joy.

And one day, we will know the ultimate joy and peace when we dwell in heaven with God forever.

Amen!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A Cheerful Giver


2 Corinthians 9:7
Each of you should give what you have decided with your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

My husband, Danny, balances his mind, in careful financial preparedness, with his heart that leans toward generosity.  That can be a precarious tension at times for many of us, but he has honed it to a fine art.

When Danny announces his monthly trip to Costco, I expect no more than the items on his list to make their way home to our pantry.  Was I blindsided!  He enters the kitchen with a gorgeous bouquet of 24 roses, which he presents to me "just because."


Just because . . .

Danny wants to surprise me, which he successfully does.  He values my love for him.  He cherishes the blessings God has granted to both of us through our marriage.

He loves me!

A cheerful giver describes Danny to a "T."

~
It's so easy to love someone who loves you back, isn't it?

But Jesus told us that the pagans and tax collectors do that.  In following Him, we must do more.  We are to love our enemies and pray for them.

We are to be gracious and forgiving toward them.

Gulp!  Now that's something, I would dare say, none of us find easy or desirable.  Especially in the contentious environment we currently experience in our nation's culture.

YET . . .

It is a command from our Lord.

So, how and where do we start?

Simply in simple acts.  I'm reminded of the importance even the seemingly insignificant gesture of kindness shown to another can go a long way.  A smile offered.  A door held open for the person behind us.  Allowing someone with fewer items to jump in front of us in the grocery store line.

Each of these are acts of love shown intentionally with people we don't even know.  For some of us, if we ourselves are feeling hurt, forgotten or unforgivable, this can seem like a monumental task.

Yet, if we make the effort to reach out in genuine care to a fellow human being, who is possibly going through a difficult time in his or her life, we could make all the difference.

Not just in their lives, but in ours.

You don't need to break the bank to be a cheerful giver.

You only need to be present, offering your heart, one small, sincere step at a time.

Amen!

Ancient Bones

Ezekiel 37:1-3 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it ...