Friday, June 28, 2019

We'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain - Part Three


Psalm 121:1-2
I lift up my eyes to the mountains -
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

Thursday morning dawns bright and clear, and all three of us are pumped for the day's adventures ahead.  After a hasty breakfast, it's back to the car to head for Bryson City, and the "back" entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains Park at Deep Creek.  Danny and I, of course, have been to this locale multiple times, but witnessing granddaughter, Virginia Rose's, joyful reaction to it all is like seeing it for the very first time.



Tom Branch Falls - Beautiful!


Virginia and a new-found friend enjoying the falls.



Nothing more fun than hurling rocks into the stream!

Next, we head back to Bryson City to grab lunch at the Everett Street Diner, a down-home restaurant with great food and friendly service.  Even the owner pays a visit to each and every table.  No photos other than this one of Virginia indulging in a Pepsi -


but since I've mentioned this diner in Adventures in The Glade, I engage in conversation with the owner, and gift him with some bookmarks to pass out to his restaurant staff.  He is delighted!

Fueled and fired up, we are ready for the fairly long trek to Clingman's Dome, the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi.  Standing at 6,643' above sea level, the ride up to the top is a never-ending ascent of exciting and scenic twists and turns, not to mention another bout with ear popping for all of us.  Just look at those views!




There is a side trail that few people take when visiting Clingman's Dome, but Danny eagerly leads Virginia on a part of it; it's too long, and too cold, to even think about walking the entire length.  Here are some photos they shoot in front of an ancient rock that reminds us of the Easter Island statues.



Back up in the parking lot, Virginia can't resist climbing, and posing, on more rocks!



What a ham she is!

With winds whipping and an unheard-of June temperature of 48, we soon decide it's high time to return to the car, and head back to the cabin.  We enjoy again every vista we pass along the way accompanied by a continuous chorus of "wows" from Virginia at the breathtaking views.

Just when we think we've seen it all, cars slow down, and we behold this majestic creature.


Yes, it's an elk, high up on the ridge of Clingman's Dome!  Truly, it's the last place we would expect to find one, as they usually congregate in the valleys, so we are thrilled and thankful for this unexpected treat.

And if that sighting isn't enough, spotting these on our way out of the park is icing on the cake!


Mid-afternoon, and we are back in our cabin, lifting our eyes to the mountains once again, and praising God for all He has blessed us with this day.


Amen!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

We'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain - Part Two


Matthew 8:19-20
Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go."
Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

We faithfully follow the directions provided by the cabin leasing company, assured that we will land at our promised destination, as the Subaru climbs up, up, up to heights that our granddaughter, Virginia Rose, has never before experienced.  I take every opportunity to turn around and glance back at her ever-changing reaction to this rise in elevation, as she lets me knows her poor ears are popping.

"Swallow hard, honey," I advise her.  "Here, maybe chewing this piece of gum will help."  Virginia readily accepts my offer, and the momentary discomfort is soon alleviated.

Before long, the car is winding up the last steep curve to the cabin.  Its name?  Nantahala Gorgeous, and it certainly lives up to its moniker!  And unbelievably, this is one place where Danny and I, in all our many trips to the mountains, have never stayed, so the view and the interior are just as new to us as they are to Virginia.

Danny eases the car down the gravel driveway, parking it next to the cabin.  Virginia bounds out of her door eagerly, vociferously expressing her praise of the mountain view spread before us.  "And I can't wait to see the inside of the cabin!"

"We'll do that in a few minutes, Virginia," I tell her.  "Papa always likes to go in first to take photos of where we're staying before we muddle it up with all the belongings we've brought."

To pass the time, Virginia explores the grounds, and helps me carry what she can up to the cabin's deck and close to the front door.  The activity seems to distract her for the time being, but once Papa give the okay, she darts into the cabin like a lightning bolt.  "It's my dream house!!!"  she exclaims as she dashes to and fro, exploring each and every room from top to bottom.















"Oh, Papa!"  Virginia pronounces once she's completed her tour.  "This is the best idea you've ever had!"

"I think so, too, honey," I agree as I take in the amazing vista before me.  "The best idea ever!"






~

Once Jesus began His ministry, He had no permanent home on earth of which we are told.  He depended upon others for a place to sleep, to eat, to teach.  I can't begin to imagine how He managed it, but everywhere Jesus went, it seemed, there were always accommodations, even if it was out under the stars at the Mount of Olives.  

And as I admire the beauty of Nantahala Gorgeous inside and out, I am so grateful for all that God has so generously provided for us, both at home and in our travels.  Yes, we are blessed, especially knowing that Jesus has at last found a permanent home in our hearts.

Amen!

Friday, June 21, 2019

We'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain - Part One


Mark 1:16-18
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother, Andrew, casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people."  At once they left their nets and followed him.

There is a treasure trove of wonderful adjectives that aptly describe my husband, Danny, but spontaneous isn't one of them.  Being an engineer, his approach to anything we might embark upon, such as a trip to the mountains, is carefully planned weeks ahead of time.  So, what happens early Tuesday evening of last week takes me completely by surprise.

We have our granddaughter, Virginia Rose, staying with us as our goal for Wednesday is to take her to the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, Georgi; she's been there before, but has been begging to see some new planetarium shows.  While I'm checking showtimes on the Tellus website, Danny is, unbeknownst to me, looking at the upcoming weather in the Great Smoky Mountains and checking cabin availability.

Out of the blue, he announces, "Virginia, Martha, let's go to the mountains tomorrow!"

"What???"  You're kidding, right?"

"Not at all," Danny assures me.  "Call Sarah to see if it's alright to take Virginia to the mountains for a day or two.  As soon as you find out, I can book a cabin."

Stunned by this spur-of-the-moment move on his part, I contact my daughter to get her permission.  Sarah quickly assents, as she knows that Virginia has long desired to travel with us on mountain getaways.  The die is cast!

Appointments are cancelled or postponed early Wednesday morning as we scramble with the packing of clothes, toiletries and food items.  Miraculously, we are ready to roll shortly before noon.  After a quick run by Virginia's house to pick up her jacket (yes, it's going to be that chilly!!!), we're off!

Virginia, needless to say, is beside herself with excitement.  As we travel north, and the mountains loom larger and larger, her eyes are filled with awe and wonder at their ancient majesty.  We make our traditional pit stop at the most beautiful rest area we've ever encountered in our travels, and Virginia enjoys the opportunity to explore.




Further down the road in the Nantahala Gorge, we visit the Nantahala Outdoor Center.





Next stop?  The cabin!  

To be continued . . .

~

In the scripture featured above, we see the future disciples drop everything in the spontaneity of the moment to follow Jesus.  What a compelling presence our Lord must have exuded for grown men to abandon their work, duties and obligations in the everyday, to seek His will for their lives!  Much like Danny being willing to risk an unplanned trip, trusting that God is working it all out for good, so these men embarked without hesitation upon a journey that would change their hearts and minds for eternity.

May we never hesitate to drop everything when Jesus is calling us.

Amen!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Praying for You!


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.

Recently, my blogging friend, Linda Stoll, writes about how she often sends emails to family and friends that contain these seven, heartfelt words:  How can I pray for you today?  The response, as you might imagine, is vigorous.  After all, who doesn't like to be prayed for?

This time, Linda adds a twist - she invites all of us, her followers, to submit our own prayer requests in the comments' section of her blog.  How fantastic is that?  And of course, yours truly takes her up on it without a moment's hesitation.

Because intercessory prayer works.  How do I know?  I have felt its enormous power when the unexpected storms of life came crashing down in the spring of 2017.  You can read the entire saga beginning here, but long story short, my husband, Danny has to have a pacemaker put in when we are supposed to be on a mountain vacation.  So here I am, in the unfamiliar city of Asheville, North Carolina, feeling lost, uncertain and afraid, even though I know God is with me.

So, what do I do?  I begin texting and calling everyone I know to please be in prayer for both Danny and me.  It isn't long before a sense of calm, that peace which passes all understanding, descends on my heart like a warm and comforting embrace.  It's like no sensation I've ever had in my life, and one I will always remember.

I close my comment to Linda with the assertion that I'll be praying for her, too.  And that's no casual sentiment.  Because, she, like all the bloggers I follow, is on my permanent prayer list, which I keep close at hand.

Yes, blogging buddies, every last one of you is prayed for daily!  No, I don't know your specific needs, with a few exceptions, but God certainly does.

At the risk of imitating Linda (isn't imitation the best form of flattery?), I'm inviting all of you who comment here, bloggers or not, to leave a prayer request, for yourself or someone you love or both!  Hope all of you will join in.

And if I might be so bold, I ask for your prayers for me as our family is making some adjustments, and facing some important decisions moving forward.  It's all good, my friends, but it is a challenge.

May we all pray for one another, and receive God's gifts of healing, peace and grace.

Amen!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Do Not Let Us Fall . . .


1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Let's not fool ourselves.  Temptations are rampant in this world, ringing our doorbells, our cell phones and our social media for recognition and submission to their alluring whims.  It is, as the Scripture above states, common to mankind.

But it's not part of God's plan for us to fall into the traps others might lay along our path.  Recently, I have to intercede, rather forcefully, but I pray, lovingly, to make my point with a person very dear to me.  It's not where I want to be.  After all, who wants to nail another on a major shortcoming when I know I have my own to bear?  My own plank in the eye when I'm trying to remove the mote from another's?

Yet, the disastrous potential for this loved one begs intervention, encouragement, and assurance of support.  He is currently blinded by the promises of the world, false at best, evil at worst.  His choices made in the recent past have been neither wise nor life-giving.

I can't stand idly by without attempting, at least, to be his voice of reason.  A convincing, convicting voice of reason.  And that wisdom comes only from God, by humbling myself in prayer and supplication before Him

Ironically, Pope Francis' recent proclamation to change The Lord's Prayer hits the nail on the head for me.  What follows is an excerpt from an article published on Fox News:

The Catholic leader changed the phrase "lead us not into temptation" to "do not let us fall into temptation," as mentioned in the gospel of Matthew 6:13, because the original translation implies that God induces temptation.  The change, officials said, is closer to the original intent of the prayer.  "I am the one who falls; it's not Him pushing me into temptation to then see how I have fallen," Francis explained to Italian broadcasters about the phrase change.  "A father doesn't do that, a father helps you to get up immediately.  It's Satan who leads us into temptation, that's his department."

I like this change, because in my heart, I know it's true.  God never tempts us, only Satan does.  It is our faith in God's saving grace that allows us to resist the temptations that bombard us daily, and threaten to separate us from Him.

So, my constant and consistent prayer for this loved one in need of the Father's guiding hand, is that he would come to know that God stands at the ready to help him resist the temptations that would destroy the life the Lord has planned for him.  God always provides the way out when we trust in Him.

Let us pray:

Our Father, who art in Heaven
Hallowed be thy name,
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
Do not let us fall into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.

Amen!

Friday, June 7, 2019

At Your Service


Psalm 139:7-10
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

For the most part, I have no beef with AT&T as my cell phone provider.  The signal is strong and reliable in the metro area where we live.  No missed calls (unless I choose to miss one), no dropped calls; just dependable service.

But take the phone to rural Oxford, and all bets are off!

I find this particularly frustrating during my last visit with Mom, as I'm expecting to hear from my doctor's office regarding some lab results.  Twice, they try to reach me, and each time, my phone refuses to ring, sending the caller straight to voicemail.  Ugh!  I have to use my mother's land line just to call them back, and leave a message for them to contact me on her phone.  What a hassle!

Then there's the constant challenge of text messaging.  There are areas of Mom's house that are "dead" zones, where the words, "No Service," show up where I should see at least one "bar."  I've even had to walk outside, all the way to the end of the driveway, to snag a signal strong enough to send the text.  I can't begin to count the times when messaging fails, and I'm prompted by my phone to try again.

And again.

And again.

Exasperating!!!

~

Although my phone fails to connect, I never have to worry about connecting with God through prayer.  No matter where I am, where I go, with others or alone, He is my constant companion.  I take great comfort in knowing He is present always, whether I feel Him there in the moment.

Because faith has nothing to do with feeling, and everything to do with trust.  Trusting wholeheartedly in the One who keeps His promises, whose hand will guide me, whose right hand will hold me fast.

God, my friends, is holding your hands, too.

And He is forever and always at your service.

Amen!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Taking the Heat


Matthew 16:18
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

In the past, when my granddaughter, Virginia Rose, and I travel to the historic town of Oxford, Georgia, to visit my mother, the weather is remarkably cooperative.  Yes, there are the occasional showers, but always a plethora of dry, temperate days to satisfy our outdoor inclinations.  Whether it's kicking the ball or throwing the frisbee in Mom's extensive yard, or walking the nature trail, Virginia and I traditionally spend more time outside than in.

Not this time around . . .

We are smack dab in the middle of an oppressive heat wave.  Temperatures soar to and stay in the 90s for most of each day, making outdoor recreation an undesirable activity.  Virginia does venture outside, but stays beneath the shade of the trees.  I hate not joining her, but this Gammie does not do well in sweltering temps.  I just can't take the heat!

One evening, though, after dinner, Virginia begs me to go on a walk.  Yes, it is a few degrees cooler than earlier in the day, but she really has to coax me to acquiesce.  "Okay, honey," I say with a sigh, "we can take a walk, but only to the Old Church and back."

Satisfied with this short stroll, Virginia bounds out the door eagerly, as I reluctantly follow behind.  We saunter casually and reach our destination, not without shedding a few droplets of sweat along the way.  Standing on the walkway to the church, something catches my eye.  Is the door to the church open?  Yes, it is!  I see people moving around inside.  "Look, Virginia, that door is open.  Let's see if we can go inside so you can see what the church looks like!"

We are welcomed by a gentleman who knew my father when he was alive, and knows my mother well.  He is the chair of the Oxford Historical Society, and is showing the church to a couple contemplating getting married there.  And what's more, the air conditioner is on.  What a blessing!

Of course, Virginia is delighted to look around this simple, yet elegant, building that has seen generation upon generation pass through its doors.  Though only used for special occasions now, the Old Church still has a dignified, sanctified feel about it, and Virginia enjoys taking it all in.



See the balcony?  Unfortunately, it was closed, so we couldn't explore.




And yes, there are even old timey fans in the pews.  Virginia has to try them out!





Once our visit is over, and we are back at the house, I can't help but wonder about Peter.  When Jesus commissions him as the rock upon which God's church is to be built, did he even have one inkling as to what that would mean for him?  For the generations that would follow?

And how could Peter ever imagine the eventual proliferation of church after church after church in a country that wouldn't be discovered until 1500 years later?  Bottom line?  He couldn't!

But I like to think Jesus did when He placed that power and authority on Peter's shoulders.  Yes, The Way would be persecuted, marginalized, and threatened in its infancy, but it would prevail and flourish as it does to this day, in spite of anti-Christian factions that are rife in our modern, secular culture.

Those flaming, scorching gates of Hades can try every evil in the book to overcome the church, but they'll never win.

Because Jesus, and His church, can take the heat!

Amen!

World of Truth

John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkn...