Thursday, October 21, 2021

You've Got Mail!


Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God, to God's holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:  Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. ~Ephesians 1:1-2

On our most recent trip to Mom's, I set about the task of going through seemingly endless piles of large envelopes filled with cards, letters and miscellaneous items my parents kept throughout the years.  It is, in a word, overwhelming.  I never realized what pack rats my folks were because their home is so large, and it is convenient to squirrel away untold trash and treasure where it isn't readily visible.

It is easy to toss Christmas cards, birthday cards and calendars dating back to the 90s without even looking closely inside the packets, but many others are problematic.  Each of these envelopes demands the emptying of its contents in order to decide what's worth keeping and what should be cast aside.

There are plenty of sentimental items that I don't really want to keep, but don't feel I have the authority to throw away without my brother, Bill, getting a go-through first, so I leave quite a few piles on Mom's dining room table for him to peruse on his next visit.  What I do bring home with me to sort and save are the hundreds of letters exchanged over the years between my grandparents, Mom and Dad, a dear relatives now departed.  These are treasures, indeed, and it makes me grateful that my parents did make the effort to save these.  I'm hoping, by the time I'm through reading and cataloguing all of these, that a bigger picture can be drawn of my family tree.

These are the contents of just ONE envelope!  Does anyone remember those thin, flimsy air mail missives?  I'm sure glad the envelopes were saved with the content as I'm counting on the postmarks to allow me to date the letters more accurately.  I even find, at least in this pile, a letter I write to my Dad when he was away in Iowa for a summer of study on corn plants!

Oh, how precious these items are to me!  But just imagine how powerfully impressive and precious Paul's letters were to the early Christian communities, eager to hear his inspirational messages and exhortations.  There was no reading/hearing them once, then tossing them away like yesterday's news.  These were pearls of infinite value to the often persecuted and struggling followers of Christ Jesus.

Without these early Christian converts, saving and savoring Paul's letters and, undoubtedly, copying them over and over and over for the sake of preservation, what would our beloved New Testament look like?  I dare say we would be made all the poorer in our faith had these not been included.

So, I will save these letters, rewriting some if I have to, and pass them down to future generations.  Perhaps, they will become just as meaningful to them as they are to me.


Monday, October 18, 2021

All Things Are Possible


Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." ~Matthew 19:26

This photo is taken at my mother's house as I am on my way to put a load of clothes into the washing machine.  Yes, I'm used to seeing these docile and loveable lizards on the screened-in porch, but certainly not in the confines of the home.  I simply had to snap a picture of this wanton creature who wandered way beyond his comfort zone into uncharted territory.

And I couldn't help but think that this lizard's inopportune venture would eventually lead to his freedom, if he has the will to seek it.

I find myself caught in a bind

Where is the world I left behind?

All that matters now is lost

How will I accept the cost?

Seek the crevice, seek the crack

In the mortar, where the lack

Of vigilance begs a breach

The outside world within my reach

Friends, it is the same lesson we can all learn from the Lord.  What seems improbable and impossible for us, God can accomplish in a heartbeat.  All we need is faith.



Thursday, October 14, 2021

Jumble Rumble!


For the word of God is alive and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. ~Hebrews 4:12

During the Covid shutdown, many of us develop new ways to entertain ourselves at home, expanding upon hobbies and interests we've allowed to fall by the wayside, or taking up entirely new activities to pass the time.

A new activity I adopt during my homebound months is working Jumble puzzles.  That's right!  I love words, as you can probably guess, and I look forward to the job of unscrambling letters to form a word, and then. formulating the correct answer to the puzzle using the letter and clues from the cartoon.

You would think, after tackling hundreds of puzzles, that I would be proficient at this by now, but you would be wrong.  I find that some words, even the five-letter ones, will stump me at times.  Ironically, if I step away from the puzzle, and return after several moments of brain rest, the word will pop right out at me, making me feel a bit foolish for not deciphering it in the first place.

Other times, by looking at the cartoon clues, I will get the answer to the puzzle (love it when that happens!), and will figure out the words accordingly.

And when I'm truly stumped, I'm not above sneaking a glance at the answer page, at least to get the letter the word begins with.

Like I said before, practice, for me, hasn't perfected my ability to rumble the Jumble!

So, why do I continue to do them?

  • Because they are entertaining.
  • They work a part of my brain that wouldn't get exercise otherwise.
  • I love the challenge!
And sometimes, reading the Word of God can be challenging, especially when we encounter a difficult-to-understand passage in the Old Testament, where a scholar's interpretation comes in handy.  But we can't forget that God's Word is alive and active, and can cut right through from past to present in truth and relevancy for us living in these modern times.

Whatever it is you take time to enjoy each day, make reading your Bible one of those good things you practice with regularity.  Let the Word of the Lord exercise both your mind and your heart.

It's guaranteed to solve any jumble you find yourself in.


Monday, October 11, 2021

Teach Your Children Well


Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. ~Deuteronomy 11:19

The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. ~C. S. Lewis

One of the most satisfying jobs I ever have was that of being a teacher.  Even on difficult days, when I felt tired or irritable, one cheerful greeting from a student was enough to turn my attitude 180 degrees.  How I loved those children, and what a privilege it was to watch their knowledge and confidence flourish right before my eyes!

By in large, the best students in my classroom were the ones whose parents had an active and vested interest in what and how their children were learning.  These were the kids who always had their homework, always prepared for a test, and had a positive attitude about learning in general.  On open house night, I made it my business to be respectful and up-front with these parents, assuring them that it was not my job to tell their children what to think, but how to think critically.

Never in my wildest dreams would it have occurred to me that I should usurp the parents' essential role in their child's education.  


Needless to say, it breaks my heart to see today's parents being silenced for wanting a say in their children's education.  First, by school boards, and now by the threat of the FBI interfering with school board meetings where, under the First Amendment, everyone has the right to express an opinion, openly and peacefully.  

But I'm so proud of these hundreds of thousands of parents who refuse to cave to the bullying by authorities who think they are the only ones who know what's best for the children.  Teaching a child is, first and foremost, a parent's responsibility, and when they see their tax dollars being spent on indoctrination instead of education, they have every right to demand such behaviors be curtailed completely.

I'm sure most of you know by now to what I'm referring:  CRT, or Critical Race Theory.  In a nutshell, this radical philosophy tells children that they will be judged by the color of their skin.  This sickening reversal of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s stance, one I grew up with and taught my own children, informs kids to not only distrust those with a different skin color than theirs, but to loathe their own, i.e., if you're white, you're an oppressor, if you're black/brown, you are a victim.

As Christians, this concept should be abhorrent to us all.  We are created in God's image, and His palate consists of every shade of skin under the sun.  No person should ever be judged by a biological factor he or she can never change.

And in America, according to our Declaration of Independence, all men are created equal and have the God given right to pursue life, liberty and happiness.  No government can either give those rights or, as they are desperately trying today, to take them away from us.

I hope and pray that if you are a parent or grandparent whose children/grandchildren are being exposed to such heinous ideology, that you will join the fray, standing shoulder to shoulder at those school board meetings across the country, demanding that teachers and administrators NOT to cut down the jungles of family values and traditions, but irrigate the desert minds of children, thirsting for unbiased knowledge and truth.

Don't teach them what to think.  Teach them how to think critically.


Thursday, October 7, 2021

The Lord Has Done Great Things


I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. ~Psalm 86:12

My husband, Danny, has had a pacemaker since 2017.  Without it, the honest truth is, he wouldn't be with us as he is today.  Because of the incident he suffers last March, when said pacemaker shocks his heart back to life while he's on our treadmill, and a subsequent heart ablation in May, Danny needs to see his cardiologist, the pacemaker surgeon, and the device techs on a regular basis.

Even though I always have hope (my word for the year) that all will be well at these check-ups, I must confess to entertaining unwanted feelings of trepidation when they happen.  And that's exactly where I find myself this past Tuesday, waiting to hear from Danny, as he is at the hospital meeting with all these heart experts.

Imagine my immense relief when I receive this text from Danny:  Dr. C. took me off Amiodarone for good!  WOW!  This is the strong drug the cardiologist puts him on right after the shock attack.  It is a lifesaver, as it regulates the heart's rhythm, but it's side effects, if taken for too long, are undeniably frightening and debilitating in a myriad of ways.

So, this is marvelous, miraculous news!  The heart ablation has successfully done its thing, and Danny's heart is beating as strongly and naturally as any heart possibly can that has suffered physical damage.

We both have every reason to praise the Lord our God with all our hearts, glorifying His name.  In His grace and mercy, He has done great things for us.

And we thank the Lord for all our blessings, His miracles, His forgiveness.

His unfailing love.

How are you feeling blessed by God today, friends?  Please share in the comments.


Monday, October 4, 2021

Be Lifted Up


Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. ~James 4:10

It's that time of year again at the Orlando Compound.  Yes, the first leaves are falling, thick and fast, eager to cover our decks, driveway and forest floor.  We jokingly say that autumn is the only season requiring us to do any serious yard work at all, since our "lawn" consists of moss and mulch.

The oak leaves are certainly nothing to write home about when it comes to looks.  Sere, brown and brittle, their humble entrance makes way for leaves of other tree species to produce eloquent and resounding colors before they, too, make their eventual journey to the earth below.

But in this show of natural humility, the oak leaves have a lesson for all of us.  It doesn't matter what we look like for God to take notice of us.  We don't have to be flashy or showy in order to live our lives for His glory.  In fact, like the humble oak leaves, our lives should not take center stage, but point to something better and immeasurably wonderful to come.

God's kingdom.

When we submit to God in humility, James assures us that our Lord and Savior will lift us up.

And that, my friends, will, indeed, be an indescribably glorious day that outshines any brilliant colors the fall might send our way.


Thursday, September 30, 2021

How Does Your Garden Grow?


The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. ~Isaiah 40:8

Do you recall the photo above that I post in the spring of this year?  Yes, it's the plants we pot in the hopes that all of them will thrive and provide enjoyment for us throughout the summer and into the fall.

So, how are these beauties doing today?  Shall we have a look?

The hydrangea, then and now - 

Yes, it did bloom beautifully for several months, but as the flowers passed their prime, we did some pruning back in August.  The leaves are still green and vibrant as ever.  Hope prevails for a return of blossoms next spring.

Look how these two impatiens varieties have change over the summer months -

 They certainly have thrived, and show no sign of quitting when it comes to producing flower buds.  We expect them to last until the first hard freeze.

Remember the sedum?

Not too much growth difference here.  Unfortunately, for reasons we can't fathom, one of the sedums gave up the ghost back in July. But the other one has, fortunately, survived.

The Virginia creeper has, perhaps, shown the most stunning growth over the months.

Don't you love how these tendrils are now draped over the edge of the pot?  Can't wait to see if the leaves continue to turn colors as the fall progresses.

But as I mentioned above regarding the one sedum plant, our Christmas Fir and the Petunia Amore bite the dust.

How lovely they were!  Again, there's no rhyme or reason why these particular plants would fail, but as Danny and I are out of town much of the summer due to my mother's illness and subsequent passing, it could have been any number of factors that cause their demise.

That being said, we are thankful for the plants that still grace our deck, bringing cheer and delight to us on a daily basis.

We know they won't last forever.  Nothing in creation ever does.  But the Word of God stands eternally, and in that knowledge, there is comfort beyond understanding.

His is the everlasting Garden, always growing, ever flourishing.


Congratulation to Lulu!  She won the drawing for Homepun Devotions - Volume One!  You can follow Lulu at her blog, The Final Chapters.  Still want a copy of Cheryl's book?  Order it here.

You've Got Mail!

  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God, to God's holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:  Grace and peace ...