Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Let's Go on an Adventure!


Proverbs 17:22
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

In these unprecedented times of self-quarantine and social distancing, perhaps your spirit is feeling rather crushed right now.  You could use a healthy dose of cheerfulness in your life, something to brighten your world and distract you in an entertaining, uplifting way.

May I suggest reading The Glade Series and Adventures in The Glade?  Yes, I know I'm tooting my own horn here, but from the critiques of many, many folks, I can guarantee that you, too, will be enchanted by the adventures of Davy, Racer and the whole gang at The Glade.

Here's a brief overview:

Spending the summer at Grandpa Will's farm with his family is the last thing ten-year-old Davy wants.  How will he survive without his friends, the pool and his computer?  There isn't even a television at Grandpa's house!  Doesn't anyone see how miserable he will be?

In his frustration, Davy turns his anger on his mother, Kate, his sister, Anna, and especially his stepfather, Jim.  Davy is determined to make their summer as dismal and disappointing as he believes his will be.

But then, Davy has a most surprising and unexpected encounter . . . one which will change his heart, and his world, forever . . .

Okay, okay, I can hear you now.  "Hey, this is a kid's story!  Why would I like it?"

Oh, but you will!  As I've told people numerous times, these stories are for "children" ages nine to ninety-nine.  You'll enjoy every moment of discovery, mystery, suspense, and humor that these novels impart.

You've already read them?  Then why not order for friends or family members who are isolated right now?  How about sharing this blog post on Facebook or Twitter so that you can spread the news, reaching out to others not acquainted with either my blog or my books?  That would be such a blessing for me and to others in need of inspiration.

We may not be able to physically touch one another during these days, but we can share our love with a gift of memorable books to read.  It's medicine to cheer the heart, and comfort food for the soul.

Amen!

Friday, March 27, 2020

The Gardener


Matthew 13:21
But since they have no root, they last only a short time.  When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.


It thrives here, now
In recesses of grainy
Soil collected over
Time by deck wanting
Pressure wash, cleansing
Sprout, hope's fountain,
Will not be deterred
In spite of mounting odds
Every day, new promise
Believing above all
That soil, rich, will hold
When the Gardener sows

Amen!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Survive or Thrive?


Jeremiah 17:7-8
But blessed is the one who trust in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

The spread of the Covid-19 virus is causing millions of us to change the way we go about our everyday lives.  If the daily news regarding the pandemic isn't stressful enough, being in close quarters, quarantined with immediate family, can create an atmosphere of breaking-point tension.  Does that apply to you?  How are you surviving the situation in your home?

Here are some things I'm doing to alleviate apprehension and emotional strain.

Walking the neighborhood - Once I conquer the Driveway of Doom and our Cul-Death-Sac, the bulk of my walking is relatively easy.



I'm used to the treadmill at the gym, so my first forays into outdoor exercise gives my leg muscles a painful wake-up call.  Yet, the fresh, cool air blowing on my face and the myriad songs of the birds, work wonders in dissolving all negative thoughts.  It's also become the perfect opportunity to pray!

No make-up!


To most of you, this will sound absurdly silly, I know.  But without appearing in public, so to speak, I've dropped this routine from my morning schedule.  This frees up some extra minutes to indulge in more . . .

Reading - The last time I visit with my mother, I borrow some books from her generous library.


I don't often read history, preferring fiction over non-fiction, but this is proving to be a positive change.  I'm in the middle of 1776, and I can't give it enough praise!  Thankful to have the other two waiting in the wings.

Watching shows that make me laugh - Right now, I'm on Netflix, enjoying old episodes of The Andy Griffith Show.


Not only am I magically transported back to my childhood, but the humor and quality of acting successfully distract me from the situation at hand.  So entertaining and uplifting!  (Fun Trivia:  Did you know that the characters of Andy and Barney are first cousins?  And that Opie (Ron Howard) and I share the same birthday, March 1?)

Playing games - Yes, my husband, Danny and I are indulging in extra rounds of backgammon!  A game of both chance and strategy, it definitely engages our minds in a positive way.


And most importantly . . .

Immersing myself in God's Word - I'm being so challenged by this Lenten study I choose, Rediscover Jesus by Matthew Kelly.


Each day, a new entry invites me to more fully understand Jesus' radical love for us, and how we can more effectively be His hands and feet in this hurting world.

And I love, love, love my new Jesus Bible that Danny gives me for my birthday!


The commentaries are insightful and illuminating, and the NIV translation makes the Scripture easy to read and digest.  I absolutely need God's inspiration, comfort and wisdom, and I look forward every morning to spending time in His presence.

Because I long to be that tree planted by life-giving waters.  Thriving, not simply surviving.

God knows our struggles, our fears, our stresses.  He stands ever at the ready to offer us His peace and grace, urging us to dig deeper into Him, to replenish our souls from His Living Water.

With our Father's help, we can all learn to thrive, not simply survive, these troubled times.

Amen!

What are you doing to alleviate stress in your life these days?  Please share in the comments!

Friday, March 20, 2020

You Are My Sunshine!


Genesis 50:20
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

A week ago, I share with you all the precautions we are taking in light of the Corona Virus invasion into our country, as well as so many nations across the globe.  This disease shows no partiality.  Conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, believer or atheist, this plague has neither the power to judge nor delineate.

It simply attacks.

Relentlessly.

Ruthlessly.

And when we least expect it.

I never thought I would say this, not in a thousand lifetimes, but I'm glad that our grandchildren are no longer living close to us.  That they are far away, for the time being, it is actually a back-handed blessing.  If they were within easy traveling distance, our sadness would have been multiplied beyond measure as, with schools closed, and our present vulnerability to this outbreak, we would have been prevented any visitation whatsoever.

Thank goodness and thank God for Face Time!

We have been able to stay connected, face to face, and though we can't throw arms around one another, that's probably for the best at this juncture.  Just knowing that all my girls, and John, are safe and thriving gives me peace of mind and joy in my heart.

And how can I not be happy when I see how much fun they are having at Myrtle Beach?





Fresh air and sunshine . . . How much these contribute not only to healing, but to prevention of disease.

We all need more sunshine, don't we?

Can we shine the light of Jesus on others right where we are?  Can we be their Son-shine?

In these dark times, may we always remember the silver lining in the gathering clouds.  Let us cling to the promise of the Lord, that He will make good out of circumstances that, to our human perspective, may seem hopeless and irredeemable.

He did so for Joseph.

He will for me.

He will for you.

Amen!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

A Table Prepared


Psalm 23:5-6
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

The squirrels in our neighborhood love the seed that we spread faithfully on the ground for them when we fill the bird feeders.  But there is another delicacy they frequently enjoy.  Pine cones!


We discover these remains on our deck.  The squirrels partake of the seeds while perched in the branches above us, discarding the inedible portions with regularity.

But one of our squirrels goes rogue!  Remember this stump from the dead pine we have removed several months ago?


This jaunty fellow has decided that it makes the perfect table for his pine cone feast.


What a sight to see, and what a mess he makes!

But what strikes me the most is that this squirrel, instead of sheltering in the relative safety of a tree limb, chooses to be right out in the open and solitary - an all too easy target for a lurking hawk or prowling cat.

Seemingly, he feasts, completely at ease, in the presence of his enemies, assured that goodness and mercy will follow him all of his days.

May we all trust that, even in the midst of the dangers and uncertainties that currently surround us, our Father prepares a table for us, and bids us to come and partake of His love and grace, to dwell in His house forever.

Amen!

Friday, March 13, 2020

Going Viral!


Amos 9:10
"I sent plagues among you
as I did to Egypt.
I killed your young men with the sword,
along with your captured horses.
I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps,
yet you have not returned to me," declares the Lord.

The headlines blare the news of the latest Corona Virus statistics.  The stock market in on a roller coaster.  Italy quarantines their entire nation.  Israel announces that anyone entering the country must submit to a 14-day holding period to determine whether or not the entering party is carrying the virus.  The United States bolsters its borders, and bans air travel from both China and Europe.

Yet, the infection manages to reach our shores.  A plague I pray that warmer temperatures will weaken.

My husband, Danny, and I, are counted as potential risks to this disease as we are both over 60.  He, especially, is vulnerable because of his pacemaker, and the fact that he had such a virulent case of pneumonia years ago, the doctors had to place him in an induced coma, hoping this would help his immune system conquer the illness.  We determine, going forward, to make the wisest choices possible.

Until the threat is lifted, we are restricting our departures from the Orlando Compound to a minimum.  Even though this means staying away from the gym, our church (oh, how I hate that one!), and shopping for food early in the morning when the presence of others is negligible, we feel it's necessary at this time.

I must admit here that I'm infinitely grateful that we both tend to thrive as introverts.  I can't begin to imagine what havoc this virus is reaping upon those who feel called to, or have to, because of their professions, be in the company of others.  We are blessed to have a choice.

Some of you, no doubt, will call us alarmists.  That's okay.  You most definitely have a right to your opinion and your take upon the whole situation.

But how many of you, in light of this plague, have prayed more sincerely to the Lord?  How many of you have placed your trust in Him for protection and guidance?  Could God, through this latest virus, be inviting us to turn from our sinful ways, and embrace the path of goodness and mercy He freely offers?

If we have prayed more and relied more upon our loving Father, then there is an upside to this virus after all.

Hope you all will join Danny and me in praying for the eradication of this plague, and that the Lord will deliver us sooner than later.

Amen!


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Bittersweet Birthday


John 16:16
Jesus went on to say, "In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me."

As many of you already know, my daughter, Sarah, her husband, John, and the three girls, Virginia, Savannah and Alexandra move to South Carolina the weekend after Valentine's Day.  Are Gammie and Papa heartbroken?  Is the Pope Catholic?

But there is an unexpected light at the end of what we perceive to be a long, dark tunnel.  They plan to return here two weekends later in order for Sarah and John to do the final clean up at the former house.  And we get to keep the girls!!!  As my birthday falls on that weekend, rest assured their company is the best birthday gift I could ever dream of!




Of course, we play games.




The crazy sand that Virginia loved when she was younger is coaxed out of retirement for Savannah and Alexandra.  What a blast they have!





We spend lots of time outdoors, too, as the weather, though cold, is sunny and bright.  On Sunday, Papa surprises us with this.


A bubble machine!!!



Now, that's some good, clean fun!

But all too soon, John and Sarah arrive Sunday afternoon to collect the girls and embark on the long drive to Myrtle Beach.  Virginia can't hug us enough, and holding back tears for me is exercise in futility.

"I'm going to miss you, Gammie.  I'm going to miss you, Papa," she whispers as she gives each of us a final embrace.

"We'll miss you, too, Virginia, more than you know," I say, and add what I hope is a cheerful reminder, "but your spring break is right around the corner, so Papa and I will come visit your sisters and you."

When farewells are exchanged all around, and the girls are loaded into the car, it's time to face a painful reality.  I may have comforted Virginia in diminishing the number of weeks until we can see each other again, but the time looms in my own heart like an eternity.

A bittersweet birthday.  One I will always remember.


Amen!

Friday, March 6, 2020

Go the Extra Mile


Matthew 5:41
If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

I am in dire need of new gym shoes.  The last pair I buy from Payless Shoes, before they go out of business, turn as bankrupt on me as does their source in the market.  I've never seen a hole in the big toe area erupt so fast in any shoe I've ever owned!

My husband, Danny, is always thoughtful and empathetic whenever I voice a need or a want.  He knows I dislike having to shop outside of the internet.  And he knows I've been wanting to replace my shoes.  So, when he makes his monthly trek to Costco, he is sure he has hit pay dirt when he finds these Fila's.


Yes, they are my size, but will they truly fit?  I think so at first when I try them on, but after one trip to the gym, I change my tune.  I can barely go one mile, let alone two.  They are too loose in the heel, are prone to coming untied unless double-knotted, and worst of all, the imperfect fit throws my right hip totally out of whack.

Something must be done, and fast.  I slip on an old pair of shoes that I've thankfully kept, and it's off to Kohl's I go!  Blessedly, I find a pair of Sketchers that are both comfortable and affordable.  Here they are!


Still, for a day or two, my feet, tortured by the Fila's, take time to adjust to the feel of the Sketchers.  And as I reflect upon the state of discomfort while walking, I realize how much I take my feet and legs for granted.

Never again!

Thank you, Father, for strong, healthy legs and feet that allow me to be mobile and active.  May I always be willing to go that extra mile for anyone who needs me to be that friend, that neighbor, that encourager to share and carry their burdens.

Amen!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Let It Snow!


Psalm 147:16
He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes.

All winter long, our granddaughter, Virginia Rose, longs for a snowfall here in Georgia.  She recalls the generous storms of December 2017 and January of 2018.


"Are we ever going to get snow again, Gammie?" she asks plaintively.

"I can't promise you that we will," I say, "but there's always hope.  Winter is still young!"

"Then I'll keep hoping," she declares.

And miraculously, it comes to pass, that on the last full weekend Virginia spends with us before her family's move to South Carolina, God chooses to spread snow like wool!  The deluge begins around nine on Saturday morning with accumulation looming, and no sign of letting up.  Virginia is beside herself!  With the snow falling, she is out on our deck, and exploring our yard and neighborhood with her Papa.






After most of the day spent amidst descending snow, several changes of hats and gloves, building a snow "person,"


Virginia is absolutely done in, and a nap is in order.


Luckily for those of us living in Georgia, when the threat of a snowflake finds us dashing for the nearest grocery store, the gorgeous snow that graces us begins to melt almost moments after it ceases to fall.  By the next morning, Virginia doesn't even need a coat, but her snow mound testifies to the joy of the previous day.  She takes full advantage of the icy remnant to recreate yesterday's fun and excitement.



The following is a poem that came to mind as I watch her mold and throw the final snowballs.

In snow, hope unexpected
You frolic and rejoice
Imp, child beloved
Exuberance erupts
Snowball formed and thrown
At unsuspecting tree
Whose bark, resistant, holds
Already melting taunts
Temperatures will rise
The residue will fade
The tree, brave and stalwart
Will remain, remain

Amen!

Weighing In

  Proverbs 11:1 The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him. This past week, I have a wellness check schedul...