Friday, July 20, 2018
Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.
Even though the photo above is taken eight years ago, my mother, Nancy, looks very much the same now as she did then. (Regrettably, I don't think I inherited those genes!) We are blessed that Mom's health is exceptionally good - she still drives, does her own shopping, and makes homemade bread that's to die for! Her only age-related ailment is hearing loss, but the hearing aids, though far from perfect, do help. All things considered, it's hard to believe she will be turning 90 on July 28th!
We will be celebrating Mom's birthday at her home on that day. She will be surrounded by children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who all love her. I do wish, though, that my Dad, Bill, was still here to mark this milestone with us.
That being said, I will not be blogging next week. I will be driving to Oxford mid-week to help my brother plan for Saturday's festivities. And as usual when in the land of unreliable internet, I won't be making my regular rounds to all my blogging buddies.
But hang in there! I'll be back soon, hopefully with a passel of family photos and sweet, precious memories to share with you.
Until then, may God bless and keep you in His love and grace.
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
1 Kings 19:11-13
The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by."
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
Last Tuesday, I receive a most unexpected and remarkable gift.
I arrive home after dropping granddaughter, Virginia Rose, at an activities camp at our church and running an additional errand to an uncharacteristically quiet house. Husband, Danny, has taken MIL to her dentist in Cartersville to get her bridge repaired.
When I open the door from garage to downstairs, I'm immediately made aware - there is no whirring and sighing from the oxygen generator!
As I ascend the stairs to our main floor, no sound of television or conversation disturbs the peace.
The hush is so complete, the momentary interruption of ice cubes dropping in the freezer sounds like a clanging cymbal.
The silence, profound and pervasive, commands my full attention.
And unmistakably, I hear God whisper: Enjoy this moment. Live into it. I made it for you.
I am speechless . . .
And in that instant, I know I'm standing not on the wood floor of my humble home. I am standing on Holy Ground.
Eyes closed. Breathing deeply, steadily. I mouth the words, "Thank you, Lord."
He is passing by . . .
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.
Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.
In a recent post at his blog, Cycleguy's Spin, Pastor Bill writes about the danger of rumors in the church. I couldn't agree more. Rumors are the kissin' cousins of gossip. Even when we think the "news" we're telling others isn't necessarily negative or demeaning to the person being talked about, we too often fail to stop and ask ourselves, "Would I say this to the person's face?" If the answer is "no," and too often it is, better run, and fast, in the opposite direction!
Bill's post reminds me of a wonderful life lesson the children learn at Vacation Bible School this summer. Granddaughter, Virginia Rose, volunteers during Missions time to take part in a demonstration that illustrates the importance of the words we speak. Miss Serena and Miss Sandy, sitting on either side of Virginia, squeeze some toothpaste onto a paper plate. Virginia's task? Using a toothpick, get that toothpaste back in the tube!
Of course, as we all know, that's an impossible feat. Once the paste is out there, it's out there!
And so it is with our words.
The children understand the significance of guarding what comes out of their mouths, and are encouraged to daily offer kind words that heal and help others instead of wounding them.
In this day and age of divisiveness in politics and constant spewing of vitriol on the news and social media, words of kindness, consideration and caring are needed more than ever. So let's not succumb to the rumors, the gossip, the heated exchanges. Instead, let us commit to spreading the Good News of God's love through Christ Jesus.
Let us choose, as Virginia has, to be kind.
Friday, July 6, 2018
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
Pictured above is our granddaughter, Virginia's, hair after I've washed, conditioned and de-tangled it. Ugh! I can tell right away that she is in dire need of a trim.
"Virginia," I announce, "we're going to Supercuts in the morning. We've got to get rid of those ragged split ends."
"But Gammie, I like my long hair," she protests. "You won't let the hair cut lady take off too much, will you?"
"No, I won't, honey," I assure her. Though I think to myself it would probably be best to lop of at least three inches from her tresses, I promise Virginia that we'll only remove an inch and a half.
When we arrive at Supercuts, I tell the hairdresser how much to trim from Virginia's hair. She readily cooperates, but not before explaining to us that the persistent knots and snarls are due as much to chlorine exposure, which dries out the shafts, as it is to split ends. "We have a special shampoo and conditioner designed for kids who do lots of swimming in the summer. I highly recommend these for her."
Of course, she would! And of course, this Gammie purchases both at the end of our visit, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
First, it's the actual haircut!
Ah! Now that's better! Virginia loves her new look, especially since the length has been preserved to a great degree. And she is so happy to be able to comb it out herself, painlessly, for a change.
In light of Virginia's recent "pruning," maybe it's time we examine the spiritual health of our hearts and minds. Are there emotional tangles? Snarled thoughts? Stubborn knots of pain or fear?
Let God in! Allow Him to clip away at those negative "split ends" that keep us from being fully connected to Him.
In God's capable hands, a little trim goes a long way. He will give us the ultimate Supercut!
Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ~Declaration of Independence
Happy Birthday, America! Tomorrow, July 4th, we will commemorate 242 years of independence from Great Britain. And while many of our celebrations will focus on family gatherings, parades, cookouts, and fireworks, it's also a time to reflect upon the astounding foresight our Founding Fathers had in creating these two documents: The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution, which they hoped and prayed would keep this country governed by and for the people for generations to come.
So instead of composing an original post today, I choose to share with you some Biblical wisdom quoted from American presidents through the years, statements which confirm that historically, we are "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
The reason that Christianity is the best friend of government is because Christianity is the only religion that changes the heart. ~Thomas Jefferson
We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it. We have stoked the whole of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the commandments of God. The future and success of America is not in this Constitution, but in the laws of God upon which this Constitution is founded. ~James Madison
The Bible is the first and almost the only book deserving of universal attention. ~John Quincy Adams
Finally, it is my most fervent prayer to that Almighty Being before whom I now stand, and who has kept us in His hands from the infancy of our Republic unto the present day, that He will so overrule all my intentions and actions and inspire the hearts of my fellow-citizens that we may be preserved from dangers of all kinds and continue forever a united and happy people. ~Andrew Jackson
I am profitably engaged in reading the Bible. Take all of this Book upon reason that you can, and the balance by faith, and you will live and die a better man. ~Abraham Lincoln
All must admit that the reception of the teachings of Christ results in the purist patriotism, in the most scrupulous fidelity to public trust, and in the best type of citizenship. ~Grover Cleveland
A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education. ~Theodore Roosevelt
Without God there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first, the most basic expression of Americanism. Thus, the Founding Fathers of America saw it, and thus with God's help, we will continue to be. ~Dwight D. Eisenhower
The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God. ~John F. Kennedy
If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under. ~Ronald Reagan
America is a nation of believers and together we are strengthened by the power of prayer . . . Our rights are not given to us by men, our rights are given to us by our Creator. No matter what, no earthly force can take those rights away. ~Donald J. Trump
I close this post with a prayer I cherish in these recent time in America that try men's and women's souls: If my people called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. ~2 Chronicles 7:14
May God bless America, and may we be the people He has chosen for His inheritance.
Friday, June 29, 2018
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.
Before moving in with us, MIL resides in Cartersville, Georgia, just a 40 minute drive north of Kennesaw. Once a week, my husband, Danny, and I trek up to her house to collect the mail and run errands for her as long as my son, Daniel, can arrange to take off work to stay with her while we're gone.
MIL tells us several weeks ago about a special cashier at her local Ingles grocery store named Barbara. She is adamant that Danny pick up several items at the store, and search for this inspiring lady in the check-out line, especially to let her know why MIL hasn't been shopping there since January.
"Barbara saw me struggling with the handicapped carts one day, and quickly came over to help. She inquired about my health issues, and I told her, 'COPD and heart problems.' Right away, she laid a hand on my shoulder, and I don't like the feel of a stranger's hand on my shoulder, but somehow, I didn't mind this at all. Then Barbara asked, 'May I pray for you?' It took me by surprise and took my breath away in the same moment. 'Of course,' I said. And oh, the indescribable feeling that overwhelmed me as she spoke words I can't recall, but that touched me to the core of my being! Every time I visited Ingles after that, when I checked out with Barbara, she always offered to pray over me and with me. I welcomed each one. Barbara has a gift from God."
Growing up in the deep South in the 1930's and 1940's, MIL has distinct recollections of the phraseology employed by the African-American residents in her community when describing someone filled with the Holy Spirit: "He/She has shine!" MIL admits that as a child, she didn't understand the concept beyond its literal meaning, but came to know it later in life.
Danny and I have, too.
The first Ingles run after the Barbara request is done by Danny alone. I'm feeling inclined to listen to the radio as there is no guarantee that the cashier in question will even be working. When Danny returns, I detect tears in his eyes. "I did see Barbara," he says. "She dropped everything and prayed with me."
Oh, boy, did I miss out! I vow not to make that mistake again.
So this past Tuesday, when we do the Cartersville run, I am all in to meet this amazing woman, willing to God that she will be there so I can thank her for her prayers for MIL, and bless her, too.
God, in His great grace, answers my prayer.
I introduce myself to Barbara, who greets every customer with a "How are you today, baby?" that sounds not in the least demeaning, but like an invitation to intimacy. Of course, she acknowledges remembering Danny, then after ringing up our purchases, asks me for my hands across the check signing counter to take hers.
They are at once warm, sincere, compelling. God's Holy Spirit is in their embrace. Like MIL, I can't recall the words she prays, but the power . . . Oh, the power of God is in those hands, and it's a vibrant, pulsating sensation I will never forget. Barbara's gift is overwhelming!
Even the printing of the grocery receipt pauses before the prayer is complete, and we share a laugh over this, a welcome respite from the tears threatening to flow on both sides.
And in this day and age, when so many businesses discourage employees from sharing their faith, my hat is off to Ingles for allowing Barbara, this unique, compassionate disciple of Christ, to freely express her love for others on His behalf.
She has shine . . .
Shine on, Barbara, shine on!
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
What does that word mean to you? Think about it for a moment. Does it allow you to say or do whatever you wish? Or, is it a concept derived from God's eternal truths?
In watching granddaughter, Virginia Rose, chasing fireflies in our back yard, her "jailing" jar in hand,
I know that both she and I learn a God-given lesson, one given voice by her own admission: "I don't need to capture the fireflies in this. I just want to feel them on my hands and set them free."
As a grandmother, I'm bursting with pride that Virginia is beginning to realize, with a heart growing in understanding, that all of God's creation is precious in His sight, and should be in ours. I recall the days when we would embark on our firefly hunts, with the obligatory air-hole punctured container, only for her to beg to allow them to stay in her room overnight. The next morning did not produce a pretty picture. Maybe those not-so-good memories have finally done the trick.
We find an errant firefly, confused and disoriented, in our house. It's catch and release time for Virginia! She reclaims her previous prison to now safely enclose the precious bug.
After its capture, Virginia retreats to our deck to allow the firefly to breathe and reclaim the environment into which it was born.
Before it flees, it seems to be giving thanks.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Free from the burden of sin and death. Free to become all that God intends for us as His children.
Let us ever treasure this freedom, and never cease to give thanks to the Lord for His great love for us.
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