Friday, May 31, 2013

He's Waving at You!


John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

What do you do when your heart is troubled?  When things don't turn out the way you expected they would?  When worries about loved ones or a job or a mortgage crowd your thoughts?  Cloud your judgment?

When it seems as if God is not there?

Pastor Emily shares the perfect story about what happens when we let the distractions of the day keep us from looking for the good, for the miraculous, for God in every moment.

It is her high school graduation.  The venue is one of this area's mega-churches which easily seats 5,000.  Emily's class fills the immense choir loft behind the altar.  From this vantage point, the students can easily scan the pews for family and friends.

Emily's eyes search the gathering crowd, straining to find her family.  At long last, she spots her father and grandparents.  But, where is her mother?  Yes, she recalls, Mom had to take my sister to an event.  They will be late in arriving.  I'm sure she'll be here soon.  I'll keep on looking . . . 

It is all Emily can focus upon.  The time for commencement is at hand.  Still, her mother has not appeared.  Where is she?  How can she miss my graduation?

The ceremony begins.  And, so do Emily's tears.  Streaming down her face.  The young lady seated beside her is alarmed.

"What's wrong?"  she asks.

Emily is too choked up to answer.  Too overwhelmed by disappointment and sadness over her mother's absence.  So much so, that when her name is called to stand for recognition of an award, she doesn't even hear it.

"Stand up, Emily!"  prods the girl beside her.  "They just called your name!"

In a fog, Emily stands.  In a blur, she goes through the motions.  Doesn't recall the speeches or the recognition of others.  She barely manages to contain the tears long enough to walk across the stage to receive her diploma.

Still, no mom.  And, the tears emerge anew.

It is over.  Emily is officially a graduate.  She waits in a place agreed upon to meet up with her family.  Struggles to put on a brave face.  Her dad hugs her first.

"Congratulations, Emily!  We are so proud of you!"

"Thanks, Dad," she says, "but where is Mom?"

"She's right behind you."

Emily whirls around.  "Mom!  I thought you weren't here!"  The tears return.

"I was here the whole time, sweetie.  I just arrived too late to sit with Dad.  I was up in the balcony, waving to you every time I thought you looked my way.  Didn't you see me?"

~

Because she was focused upon her own thoughts and fears, Pastor Emily missed out on the joy of her graduation, those moments which should be treasured memories held tenderly in her heart.  And, when we drown ourselves in our own disappointments and despair, we fail to see God enthusiastically waving to us from the balcony - "Look!  I'm here!  I'm here!" - just as Emily failed to see her mom on that special day.  Standing in her corner.  Cheering her on.  Ready to shower her with love and grace and blessings.

~

In your dark night of the soul, will you remember that God is waving to you?  Trying to get your attention?  Letting you know you need not be afraid?
Do you see Him?

Will you pray with me?
We know, Father, that in the midst of trials and troubles, we too often forget You are there, walking with us, holding us close, and loving us.  Help us not to miss those miraculous moments You offer to us each day despite the circumstances in which we find ourselves.  May we know Your peace.  May we not be afraid.  Amen.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Confirmed and Connected


Acts 8:17
Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Confirmation . . .

One soul.  One named Jordan.  One we are asked to help traverse the river.  The rushing, raging rapids of life only he will know completely from beginning to end.

Confirmation . . .

In God's hands, we place our hearts, our minds, our souls, with His.  Our spirits are commended into those hands.  Into Jordan's.

Confirmation . . .

The hands.  The hearts.  Placed where they can be.  Placed in joy.  Placed in love . . .

All those gathered together, hands touching shoulders, heads, but everyone bound by one connection.

Connected!!!

And, every hand placed upon the shoulder of another feels the power of God's grace, alive in the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Awake in a way which passes all understanding.

I am moved . . .

I am empowered . . .

God's grace fills the temple of my soul.  And, in this one child's commitment to serve the King of Heaven, I am made whole.

And, then . . .

The Holy Spirit, on this day of Pentecost, descends.

And, every hand placed upon the shoulder of another feels the mighty hand of God, alive in the vibrancy and vitality of the Lord's gift.  Awake in a way which passes all understanding.

I am moved . . . Beyond words.

I am empowered . . . Beyond words.

God's grace fills the temple of our souls.  And, in this one child's commitment to serve the King of Heaven, we are made whole.

~

Have you ever experienced the Holy Spirit moving within and through you?

Will you pray with me?
Thank You, Father, for the gracious gift of Your Holy Spirit, our Comforter.  Let Your power and grace so burn in our souls that others will see Your great love in us.  May we remember that we are all Your children, connected and confirmed by You.  Amen.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Time and a Season


Ecclesiastes 3:1
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . .

As many of you already know, my first two books of The Glade Series have been released, and the third one, pictured above, will be available any day now.  What you might not know is that all three books began as one novel entitled, aptly enough, The Glade.  When my publisher suggested I break it into a trilogy, I balk at first.  But, after giving it some thought, I decide her idea is a brilliant one, especially when it comes to marketing and cost.

I remember like it was yesterday . . . that hot, humid summer day in 2009 when I typed the final sentence of The Glade.  Oh, what joy!  Such elation!  I'm finished at last!

But, not a week goes by, and I find I'm going through withdrawal.  I'm missing my characters as if they are truly live family and friends.  The ache is acute and persistent.

I give in . . .

Back to the computer I go to begin what is then my envisioned Book 2.  Once again, I'm immersed in the world of Davy and Grey, Kate and Jim, Anna and Mary, Bob and Susie, and the Old Ones whom Davy has finally met.  My mind is racing.  My fingers are flying.  Chapter after chapter after chapter . . .

Then . . . I hit a hurdle.  A place in the story which stops me dead in my tracks.  For the first time since beginning the novel series, I'm stumped.  Unsure of where to go next.

God, where are you?  Why are You stopping me here?  Why aren't the words, the ideas, coming?  I'm confused.  God, are You listening?

Yes, He is listening.  He always does.  It is I who is not.  Not yet.  Not knowing how or why or wherefore.

But, deciding to trust that all will be well in the end.

After all, I don't even have a publisher for the first book yet.  What's the rush? And, if the fate of the first novel is uncertain, why would I expend energy now on a sequel?

Reluctantly, but resignedly,  I put the manuscript aside.  Just for now . . .

But, that "just for now" turns into days.  Months.  Years.

Why?  Because, this interim is a season for other ventures.  The writing of my devotional blog.  Growing closer to the Lord through daily studying His Word and going to Him in prayer.  Learning ways to successfully market a book.  Landing a publisher.  Improving my writing/editing skills.  Becoming more disciplined in my craft.

And, now?  Well, that's the good news!  Just this past week, God removes that hurdle, that stumbling block, and lovingly invites me back to the story.  I have no idea how it will all unfold, but I know with confidence that He does.

And, I trust Him.  Completely.

For everything is in His timing, and that's just fine with me.

~

Have you ever stopped doing something because you knew the time wasn't right?

Will you pray with me?
When we listen to You, Father, we can never go wrong.  Help us to understand that Your timing is perfect.  Guide us toward the goals You have set before us.  May we ever feel Your loving presence in every season of our lives.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Practice Makes (Almost) Perfect



Matthew 7:24
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock.

My husband, Danny, and I adore our granddaughter, Virginia Rose.  But, unlike lots of "Gammies" and "Papas" out there, we don't spoil her with too many toys.  In fact, we've been almost irrationally frugal in this respect, expecting her mom and dad to pack up toys for her to play with when she visits with us.

Oh, to be sure, we have a few sources of entertainment which she finds only here.  Her rock collection (she has many more than pictured below), paper and crayons (yes, she had to peel off the paper!), toy cars to scoot back and forth on our table, and BBs from long-ago air soft wars to dig out from our yard.  Yes, she is actually delighted to hunt for these, and will tell us the color of each as she hands them over to us for safe keeping!



So when Virginia visits us last week, her eyes are immediately drawn to this box sitting on the kitchen table.


Instinctively, she knows it is a toy for her.  She points to it eagerly.

"You'll have to wait until Papa puts it together, Virginia.  It won't take him long."

So, I play cars with her while Danny dutifully carries the box into the garage to assemble the bean bag toss.


Virginia is thrilled!  It doesn't take her long to understand how to play the game, but she has a lot more misses than hits on the first go around.  She even thinks Papa is a target!


On her next visit, Virginia once again practices her bean bag tosses.  Over and over again.  Practicing until she gets better and better.  We are both amazed by her tenacity and her increased rate of success in aiming for the holes.











Of course, all this activity finally catches up with her . . .



Sweet dreams, little angel!

~

To become better at any task or skill, we must practice it.  The same goes for our Christian walk.  Are you hearing the Word of the Lord and putting it into practice every day?  If so, your foundation will be rock solid.  You can shine the light of Christ into the lives of those around you.  You can abide in His peace which passes all understanding.

And, knowing that peace, you'll sleep like a baby . . .


Will you pray with me?
Father, we thank You for Your Word which guides us in all that we do.  Help us to put Jesus' commandments into daily practice that we might be His light in this world.  Though all our practice won't make us perfect, we know that we will one day be perfected in Heaven with You.  Amen.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Joyful Journey!


1 Samuel 12:24
But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.

Today marks my second anniversary of writing a devotional blog.  What a joyful journey this has been!  It has, indeed, been a humbling and life-changing experience to serve the Lord faithfully, and to celebrate here all the great things He has done for me.

And, I am so grateful for you, my loyal and faithful followers, who take the time to read my thoughts and stories, and who leave such encouraging comments.  As I begin year three of Meditations of My Heart, I trust you will be there for me as you have always been.  Know how much I love and treasure each and every one of you!

That being said, I wish to leave you today with some photos I took recently during our trip to the Nantahala Mountains of North Carolina and the Great Smokies in Tennessee.  May they fill you with joy and wonder as you reflect upon the matchless beauty of God's awesome creation.

And, may they bless you as you all have so mightily blessed me these past two years.









































Peace, love, and blessings always,

Martha

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Choosing to Love


Luke 10:27
He answered, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Last Sunday, Pastor Wallace delivers a sermon entitled, "Priority One - Love."  I am all ears!  As many of you know, I declared this year, 2013, to be the year of "Love."  So, I'm anxious to hear what Wallace has to say, wondering if I've been on the right track, hoping to gain new insight when it comes to truly loving others as ourselves.

Wallace begins with John 3:16 - For God so loved the world . . . Love, he explains, is God's first priority.  And, it should be ours, too.  It's not I'll love if I feel like it, or I'll love this neighbor, but not that one, or I'll love him/her if he/she loves me back.

No!  It's all-out, selfless, unconditional love we are to show our neighbors, friends and enemies alike.  It is what Jesus commands us to do.  Yet, because we have free will, we can choose not to love as Christ loves us.  How we break God's heart when our Priority One is anything but love!

Pastor Wallace beautifully illustrates how giving love top tier in our lives changes everything for the better.  Softens our hearts.  Enlarges our souls.  Draws us closer to the Lord.

A young husband, jaded with his marriage, visits a divorce attorney.

"I want a divorce," he declares angrily, "but, not just any divorce.  I want her to hurt.  Really, really hurt!  I want this to be the most painful thing she'll ever go through."

The lawyer studies the man's face for a few moments before he responds.

"I'll handle your divorce," he says at last, "but, you must first do what I ask of you."

"What's that?"  asks the man.

"I want you to go home to your wife and, for one entire month, you must treat her like a queen.  Put her up on a pedestal.  Show her the love you would like to be shown.  Then, when the month is up, if you still feel the way you do now, come see me and I'll start the proceedings."

The husband is startled by the lawyer's advice, but he agrees to the terms.

It is three months later.  The attorney bumps into his potential client in a coffee shop.

"Why haven't you come to see me?"  he asks the husband.  "Didn't you want a divorce?"

"Divorce?  Are you kidding me?  My wife is a queen!  I'd never dream of divorcing her."

~

Because this young man took the lawyer's advice to heart and chose to love, his life was transformed.  Are you choosing to love your spouse, your children, your friends, your enemies, your family, your God in a way which transforms you?

Will you pray with me?
We can only love one another, Father, because first, You loved us.  While we were yet sinners, You sent Your beloved Son, Christ Jesus, to die for us that we might have life eternal with You.  Let us love one another as Jesus commanded.  Amen.

Friday, May 10, 2013

It Is THE Conversation


Job 11:3
Will your idle talk reduce others to silence?  Will no one rebuke you when you mock?

Several months ago, my husband, Danny, persuades me to join Twitter.  I am reluctant.  I am resistant.  I dig my heels in deeply.

"I'm already on Facebook," I gripe.  "I don't have time for Google+, so why would I want to tweet?"

"Trust me," Danny says, "you can take it or leave it.  It's just another opportunity to spread the word about your blog and your books."

"Really?  Isn't Twitter full of idle talk?  Does it even make an impression when you post?"

"Well, yes, it can be perceived as idle talk, but there are often those gems in there which you would want to see and share.  Gems you can place there which others might like and choose to retweet."

So, reluctantly, resisting the change, and with two heels dragging, I allow Danny to set up my Twitter account.  He helps me find some interesting, newsworthy folks to follow for a start.  Okay, that's good, I guess.  Not too intrusive.  Not too busy.  Maybe, this tweeting stuff will be all right after all.

But, it isn't long before I am plunged into the yawning chasm . . .

"Oh, no!"  I exclaim three weeks into tweeting.  "I've been on the internet for ten minutes, and I have 56 tweets!  How can I possibly look at them all?  What am I supposed to do?"

"Just browse through them quickly," Danny advises.  "If you find something you want to respond to or retweet, it will only take a second.  It's hit or miss."

"But, I don't want to miss!  I want to hit the mark!  What if someone rebukes me if they don't like my comments or re-tweets?"

"That's the chance you take.  It's worth it.  Worth the risk . . ."

Worth the risk?  Really?  I have my doubts.

Then, it comes . . . the ultimate Tweet!  A well-known, beloved talk show host picks up a tweet promoting my books and website.  Unbelievably, he retweets it!  And, I get 200 hits in one night!!!   Wow!

And, Twitter is no longer idle conversation.

It is THE conversation.

I have not reduced others to silence.  There is no rebuke.  There is no mocking.

There is only affirmation.

Just as we know the Father affirms us daily with His never-ending love when we go to Him in prayer.  For even a tweet-sized prayer grabs His attention.

He never misses a word we speak to Him.

He is always listening.

And, every breath of prayer we breathe to God becomes a precious gem in His sight.

It is THE conversation!

~

How is your conversation with the Lord going today?

Will you pray with me?
Thank You, Father, for always being there for us, for loving us, and for listening to our every prayer, no matter how small.  May we never miss the mark in hearing Your answers and heeding Your call.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Lord Has Done Great Things


Psalm 125:2
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.  Then it was said among the nations, "The Lord has done great things for them."

Two weeks ago, my husband, Danny, and I baby sit for our granddaughter, Virginia Rose.  We have her all to ourselves!  And, oh, what fun we have!

Virginia loves to be outdoors, and we have a perfect spring day for it.  She checks out the old chair I placed outside so I can sit comfortably while photographing squirrels and birds.


She picks up sticks and hands them to us to chunk into the piles of pine straw and leaf debris along the edges of our yard.




What a fun way to clean up our mossy lawn!

When she seems to grow weary of this activity, Danny has an idea.

"Virginia, let's see what's under these rocks.  Maybe, I can find you a roly-poly."



Of course, she has no idea what a roly-poly is, but the prospect of her Papa lifting up some big rocks intrigues her.  You can read all about her fascination with rocks here.  I try not to show how grossed out I am by the swarms of white, wiggly bugs underneath more than one stone.  I don't want to negatively influence Virginia's perceptions or dampen her curiosity.  

When Danny pries up the fourth rock, success!  He retrieves a roly-poly and places on Virginia's arm.  Her face beams!

"Tickle," she says as the tiny creature explores her skin.


We decide it's time to go back inside so Virginia can have a drink and a snack.  While she's at the table, I get out her drawing pad and crayons.  She knows her colors and loves to scribble as you can see here.


The sunny face I make for Virginia is not without her input.  For every feature, she points to her own mouth, eyes, nose, hair, and ears, telling me how the face should look!


When she's had enough coloring, Virginia slips off the chair and heads for the closet where we keep a few toys for her.  She retrieves the cars Danny has given her, ones his boys played with many years ago, and brings them to the table.  I sit opposite from her, prepared for the volley which will shortly ensue.


Zoom!  Incoming!  I deftly catch the hurtling car, turn it, and send it flying back to Virginia.  She captures it and returns it speedily.  We are laughing at the car's antics and the way we are keeping it from falling off the table.

Then, Virginia changes up the game.  I send a car careening her way.  She lets it fall off the table!

"Oh, no!"  I explain, hands to my face which expresses an exaggerated look of disbelief.  And, I scurry with a humorous gait (think Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks) to rescue it.  That's when the laughter erupts with volcanic intensity!







Virginia is hysterical!  She keeps up this game because she is enjoying every minute of my reactions.  Every moment of laughter which leaves our sides aching and our souls filled.

Then, I hear these sweet words from the sweetest girl in the world:  "Gammie, you funny!"

Indeed, in Virginia, the Lord has done great things for me . . .

~

When is the last time you laughed so hard your sides ached? :)

Will you pray with me?
We thank You, Father, for the gifts of laughter and joy.  How they fill our hearts with song!  How they fill our souls with delight!  May we rejoice in You always and treasure all the gifts You give.  Amen.

I Will Lift My Eyes

Luke 21:25 There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars.  On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and t...