Friday, June 16, 2017

Birds of a Feather

Galatians 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Romans 2:11
For God does not show favoritism.

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you probably know that my husband, Danny, and I enjoy feeding the birds that inhabit our forest.  So much so, we have two squirrel-buster feeders hung with a series of wires and pulleys so they can be lowered for easy filling, then hauled back up beyond the reach of the deer that frequent our neighborhood.  (Yes, folks, deer like sunflower seeds, too!)

We've seen quite the variety of birds over the years:  cardinals; nuthatches; chickadees; goldfinches, and even the occasional flicker and bluebird.  All in all, these birds seem to respect each other's space at the feeders; it's not uncommon to see one or two perched on the wire when the feeders are occupied, awaiting their turn that always comes quickly.

Enter the house finch.

We're all familiar with the old saying, "Birds of a feather flock together."  Whoever penned that must have been well acquainted with the habits of house finches.  According to All About Birds, house finches are gregarious creatures, who upon discovering feeders to their liking, might bring a flock of 50 or more birds with them.

Thank goodness this group hasn't attracted this unwieldy number!  But as you can tell from these photos Danny takes, they are certainly swarming our feeders.

And although the cardinal above managed to "wing" his way in, many other of our feathered friends, who are certainly not used to this level of competition, are excluded.

If the house finch has a motto, I'm sure it is, "All for one, and one for all."

They flock together, feed together, oblivious to the presence of the other bird species around them.  It's as if they are the only creatures who matter.  Who measure up.

And I can't help but think their behavior reflects our own human frailties.  Don't we tend to stick to our "own kind?"  Surrounding ourselves with friends who think like us, act like us, dress like us?  Turning a blind eye toward others who "don't measure up" to our standards, our level of education, our income bracket?

But Paul reminds us in Romans 2:11 that God doesn't play favorites.  He loves all His children with the same fierce, unfailing, abiding love.  No one person is more blessed than another.  All are equally precious to Him.

So knowing we are all one in Christ Jesus, shouldn't we start behaving that way toward our fellow human beings, no matter what side of the tracks they come from, no matter their political beliefs, no matter their skin color or country of origin?

It's so much easier to be a house finch, isn't it?

But God never said following Him would be easy.

With the Lord's help, may we all begin to regard our fellow travelers on this life's journey with God's eyes.

The eyes of love.


Due to having our granddaughter, Virginia, here all next week for Vacation Bible School, and me helping out with this each day, I'm taking a brief blog break.  I will be back here with you on Tuesday, June 27th.  God bless!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Twit or Tweet?

Ecclesiastes 10:13
The words of his mouth begin with foolishness, and the end of his talk is raving madness.

Twit:  (verb) to taunt, tease, ridicule, etc., with reference to anything embarrassing; gibe at.  Synonyms:  jeer at; mock; insult, deride.

How many of you use Twitter regularly?  For what seems like ages, I haven't, except to tweet some of my favorite Christian bloggers' posts.  But I never make a habit of checking my Twitter feed because my "Silver Bird" connection has always crashed and burned, or chose not to show up at all when I bring my computer online.

What makes it suddenly "fix" itself, flashing irritating alerts on the right-hand side of my computer screen, I can't fathom.  But it does not make me a happy camper.  Honestly, I don't want the interruption, nor do I wish to be distracted when composing a post on Facebook, penning an email, or just browsing the internet.

And I've yet to figure out how to disable it without completely dismantling my Twitter link.  Any advice you all could give me on this would be greatly appreciated!

What I've noticed as my wandering eyes are tempted to peruse the invasive banner of news flashes and announcements is that I will see an article that piques my interest.  I visit.  I read.  Then I make a huge (my word for the year) mistake.

I comment.

Man, oh, man!  What I say, no matter how innocuous I perceive it to be, is regarded as an attack more often than not.  It's a free-for-all, body slam, face in the dirt, cataclysmic KO.  The stinging words leave me reeling and wondering, what has happened to civil discourse in our country?  What has happened to respect and common decency?  

Twitter is, with a few exceptional exceptions, a cesspool.  Tweets have morphed into twits!  And the last thing I desire is one more ounce of negativity in my otherwise positive outlook.

Too many mouths filled with foolishness, bordering on the verge of raving madness.  Intolerant.  Angry.  Hateful.

The anonymity that Twitter fosters, I believe, makes such vicious attacks on others not only possible, but preys upon our human frailty to judge others.  That's God's job, not ours.

So this week, I've made a pledge to the Lord and to myself.  I will only tweet Christian inspiration, and will not be sucked into the vortex of vitriol Twitter enables.  I need not, and neither do you, have to put up with the foolish and frenzied insanity of others; but there is something positive we can do.


Pray for all those lost souls out there who would rather twit than tweet.


Friday, June 9, 2017

"Until the First Grandchild"

Jeremiah 31:3
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:  "I have loved you with an everlasting love;  I have drawn you with unfailing kindness."

1 John 4:7
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Recently I receive, and readily embrace, this sweet, unexpected note and drawing from our oldest granddaughter, Virginia Rose.

Here is what she wrote:

Dear Gammie,
I love you so much!  And you're my favorite Gammie in the entire world!  Also, you bring my heart up when you are here, and my heart is down when you are not here.  I love you.  You're mine.  
Love, Virginia

Oh, how my heart soars and sings at Virginia's beautiful message!  And I so love what she says as it reminds me of those times when we feel that God is not present.  Those times when He feels so far away from our needs, our wants, our petitions and prayers.

My heart is down when you're not here.

Reality?  God is always here with us; it is we who create the distance.

Virginia's heart is cast down, and so is mine, when I'm not with her.  I adore this amazing child, and I'd like nothing better than to be able to see her each and every day!  But you know what?  God feels the same way.  He desires to spend time with us, to have conversations, to provide those reassuring, comforting hugs, if and when we choose to spend time with Him in prayer.  There is nothing to compare to talking with and listening to our Father who knows all our needs before we ask.

The Lord, our God, has loved us with an everlasting love, one that will never fail, and one that has been witnessed throughout the ages.  And at times, I think, His great love is perfected in the gift of grandchildren.  So I leave you all with these inspirational and joyful quotes about what it means to be a grandparent.

Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild. ~Welsh Proverb

It is as grandmothers that our mothers come into the fullness of their grace. ~Christopher Morley

If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I'd have had them first. ~Lois Wyse

Grandchildren are God's way of compensating us for growing old. ~Mary H. Waldrip

You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother. ~Proverb

Posterity is the patriotic name for grandchildren. ~Art Linkletter

Oh, how much our grandchildren can teach us about God's abiding and steadfast love!


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Henry, the Hero

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this:  to lay down one's life for one's friend.

Henry, a cat with a gentle soul and loving disposition, has been a part of granddaughter, Virginia Rose's, life since she was just a toddler.  To her, he's not just a pet, he's family.  And although her mom and dad have always known Henry is a special cat, they discover recently, not in a way they would wish, just how special he is.

John, my son-in-law, routinely takes Virginia and her sisters, Savannah and Alexandra, to a playground at their apartment complex.  Henry, as is his custom, follows faithfully after them, though John doesn't notice it at the time on this particular day.  When they reach the gate, there are no other children playing there, but John sees a young man sitting on a bench some distance away.  He has his pit bull with him.

Apprehensive about this unexpected presence, John hails the man.  "Hey, there!  Is your dog friendly?  I've brought my girls here to play."

The man looks up from his phone, where he has been busy texting.  "Yeah, he's friendly.  Loves kids.  It's fine to bring them in."

John is still unsure of the situation, but Virginia's pleading has him throwing caution to the wind.  He opens the gate, holding Savannah in one arm and Alexandra in the other, as Virginia darts through, making a beeline for the swing set.

That's the only provocation this dog needs.  He flies toward Virginia, barking furiously.  In a flash, he's right on her, snapping at the back of her neck.  Terrified, Virginia screams and starts to run toward her father.  "Don't run, baby, don't run!"  John cries out in a panic as he hurries toward her as fast as he can.  "Cover your neck with your hands!"

Then it happens!  An orange and white bullet leaps out of nowhere, sinking his claws firmly into the dog's back, and hissing with rage.  Henry!  The dog yelps in pain, trying desperately to unseat his unwelcome passenger.  The distraction allows John to reach Virginia, and get her to safety along with her two sisters.  Once outside the playground's confines, John turns around, expecting the worst.  After all, Henry has tackled a predator ten times his size!

He looks just in time to see the dog finally dislodge Henry from his back, but not before the cat inflicts a final blow.  As he's sailing off the dog's back, Henry manages to dig his claws into the dog's face, nearly gouging out his right eye, before he lands on all fours and dashes toward John and the girls.

At this point, the negligent owner runs over to finally take control of his animal, but not before John gives him a scathing earful.  Not that I approve of such language, nor am I thrilled Virginia is standing there to hear it, but I can certainly understand a father's fury and frustration about what has just transpired.

Sadly, the owner doesn't offer an apology.  He simply hooks on the leash and leads the wounded dog away as quickly as he can, while John hastily ushers the girls back to their apartment.

"Where's Henry, Daddy?"  Virginia asks in alarm.  "Where did he go?  Did that mean dog hurt him?"

"I hope not," John says.  "Henry probably ran all the way to the apartment and is there waiting for us."

Tears well up in Virginia's eyes.  "That dog was so huge.  He could have killed Henry."

"And I think Henry knew that, baby, but he risked his life anyway to save you.  He loves you that much."

"And I love him, Daddy.  Henry is my hero!"

"Mine, too, Virginia, mine, too."

Just so none of you worry, Henry came through this ordeal with only a few nicks.  He didn't even have to go to the vet!  He is both our angel and our hero!

Friday, June 2, 2017

It's More Blessed to Give

Acts 20:35
"I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak.  And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

Summer is almost here!  And what better way to usher in the vacation season than a book give-away?  That's right!  I am offering the first novel in The Glade Series, A Trip, a Tryst and a Terror, for FREE to the first 25 people who email me through my website.  Will it be autographed?  Of course!  Here's how it works:

  • Visit my WEBSITE and click on "Contact" at the top right-hand side of the page.
  • Send me your name and home address so I can mail you a free book along with extra bookmarks to give to family and friends.  
  • Leave me feedback via the website once you've read the novel - I'd love to hear your take on the story.
  • Write a review on Amazon - not required by any means, but if you do, let me know so I can check it out and (Are you ready for this?), send you Book Two in the series, Children in the Garden!  Yes!
So how's that for a sweet deal?

But, friends, you need to act fast.  Let me hear from you today!

Love and blessings!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Voice is Heard in Ramah . . .

Matthew 2:18
"A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it. ~Albert Einstein

Hundreds of little girls and teenagers at a concert . . . and a coward suicide bomber attends . . . it is just heart-breaking. ~Vallery Barbin, Noma Falta 

It is precisely what Vallery says it is:  Heart-breaking!  The Rachel within us all weeps at the senseless tragedy of Manchester.  And the mothers, the fathers, of these innocents refuse to be comforted, because their young, their treasured, their beloved are no more . . .

Evil.  In this place.  In our time.  An unrepentant, hideous evil seeking to destroy civilization as we know it.

As Christians, we cannot stand by and do nothing.  But what is it, Lord, in the light of this most recent disaster, would You have us do?

  • We must recognize the evil in this world for what it is.  Yes, Jesus has overcome the world, but if we don't become engaged in prayer and in action to partner with Him, we give Satan the very toe-hold he needs to wreak the poisonous havoc in which he takes such wicked delight.
  • We must pray for and stay in touch with our government officials.  Whether we send letters, e-mails, tweet, or make phone calls, we can't remain silent.  We must rise up in the strength given to us through Christ, and voice our concerns boldly.  Every measure to defeat the enemy and protect innocent lives must be taken.
  • We must never give up!  We know that we are loved as children of God.  Let us begin acting in that very knowledge, loving and forgiving others, even our enemies, as we have been loved by Jesus.
  • We must, in all adversities, and in spite of them, continue to pray.  Pray for those we love and for our adversaries, who have yet to learn the power of God's infinite love.  Pray, pray, pray that one day, the entire world will come to know that indescribable love, that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all.
May all those affected by the recent horrendous calamities in Manchester, in Egypt, in Indonesia, and the Philippines, know that God's heart is breaking for them.  May they be surrounded with and blessed by the peace and comfort of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Friday, May 26, 2017

We're Going Home

Luke 6:37
Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

When people are facing a severe illness or a major surgery, that may be one of the most significant opportunities for spiritual transformation that they will encounter. ~Allan Hamilton (Quote borrowed from my blogging friend, Jean Wise, at Healthy Spirituality)

This is the final installment of the Asheville misadventures.  If you are just joining us here, please begin with "The Voice of the Lord" featured under Blog Archives to the right of this page.

Danny and I entertain a host of medical professionals who will be in the operating room with him.  The anesthesiologist, her assistant, and the device technologist describe their roles in the procedure, and give us confidence that Danny is in good hands.  Enter Dr. S., the doctor who will actually be doing the surgery.  He embarks on what I've come to call the Litigious Litany; you know, just like all those drug commercials on television that feature an endless, and alarming, list of side effects.  Not in the least reassuring, but most likely required by law.

I look down at the Bible resting in my lap, and say a silent prayer of thanks to God for its presence.

For His.

When we are told the operation will take between two and three hours, Danny urges me to return to the hotel instead of sitting in an uninviting waiting room.  I leave my cell number with the nurse assigned to Danny's case, and head out to summon yet another Uber.  As I have to make many phone calls once again, the privacy of my hotel room is just what the doctor ordered.  (Yes, pun intended!)

I spend the next two-and-one-half hours contacting folks and perusing my new Bible, but most of my time is spent in prayer that all goes smoothly for Danny.  God continues to assure me that I should be anxious for nothing.  Danny will come through with flying colors.  What can I do at this point but trust completely in Him?

When call from Dr. S. finally comes in, I answer immediately.  "Mrs. Orlando, your husband is out of surgery and in recovery.  Everything went beautifully!  A text book case if I ever saw one.  I couldn't be happier with how things turned out."

"Oh, Dr. S., that's marvelous news!  When should I come back over to the hospital?"

"Don't leave your hotel for another hour or so," he advises.  "It will take him a while to come to himself.  By that time, we should have him back in his room."

More texting!  More calls!  More prayers of thanksgiving!!!  The success of the surgery means the doctors will release Danny tomorrow, and we can enjoy one night at the cabin before having to head home!

My arrival at the hospital could not have been better timed.  As I approach Danny's room, they are just wheeling him into it.  What a tremendous relief to see him awake.  Alert.


Once the staff departs, and we are alone at last, we shed grateful tears of joy.  That's when Danny takes my hand, looks into my eyes, and says in all solemnity, "There's something really important I have to tell you, Martha.  Just before they put me under, I forgave her.  I forgave Pastor Diane, and I meant it with all my heart."

Tears spring anew to my eyes.  "Oh, Danny, I'm so glad you could, that you finally did!  This is such a blessing!"

"And you know what else is a blessing?"  Danny asks as he squeezes my hand.  "When we get back to Kennesaw, we can quit looking for another church.  We're going home."


For those of you who have been faithfully following this saga, you know that Danny faced some overwhelming complications during the ensuing weeks.  The pacemaker, successfully implanted in Asheville, became infected; we were advised by Dr. S. that there was a 15% possibility of this happening.  Consequently, Danny underwent three surgeries in the span of six weeks:  Pacemaker installed; pacemaker removed, and new device placed on the right side of his chest, not over the heart as before.  He now has a matching pair of scars, both of which are healing perfectly, thanks be to God!

All your prayers, your notes, your comments here and privately, have meant the world to both of us through these stressful ordeals.  We truly felt God's presence and peace throughout.  So now, allow me to leave you with some gorgeous photos that Danny managed to take at the cabin on the Sunday we arrived, and on the Thursday evening when at last we could return.  May the glory of God's creation bless you, my friends, and may you always remember how precious you are in His eyes!


Birds of a Feather

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in...