Friday, October 18, 2013

Give Me a Break!


Psalm 62:5
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.

When I began writing this devotional blog over two years ago, I never could have dreamed of the amazing friends and fellow bloggers it would bring into my world.  How my life has been enriched and blessed by your caring, sharing and encouragement!  You have all helped me to grow in my faith walk and in my writing.  I cannot thank you enough!

That being said, I realize just today that I need a rest from blogging.  Just as God prompted me those years ago to begin Meditations of My Heart, I hear Him just as distinctly say, "It's time to take a break."

Not a forever break.  No way!  I love this blog, and all of you, too much!

But, a break, nonetheless.

I haven't set a length of time for this period of rest.  I'm leaving that up to the Lord to decide.  I am confident He will tell me, loud and clear, when it's time to resume.

And, will I continue to write?  Ironically, that's exactly why I'm certain God wants me to take this hiatus.  My blogging style is quite different from my fiction voice as those of you who have read my novels have more than likely realized.  I feel called to immerse my self in the land of fiction once again as I begin work on the sequels to The Glade Series, tentatively titled Adventures in the Glade.  I can't do that successfully unless my sole focus is on the novel.

Will I continue to make the rounds of your blogs?  Wouldn't miss it for the world!  So, though I'm temporarily dropping out of the scene as a blogger, I'm certainly going to stay in touch with each and every one of you.

And, I will, on occasion, post a Friday Moment or a poem or reflection on my alternative blog, Moments and Musings.  But, the pressure to post two blogs a week will no longer haunt me.

Whew!

May God bless you and keep you always!

~

I don't think I've ever asked this here before, but I'm asking now:  Will you be so kind as to pray for me as I shift gears and return to fiction writing?

Please join me in prayer:
We thank You, Father, for Your constant care and guidance in our lives.  May we ever be prepared to hear Your still, small voice prompting us and leading us on the paths You would have us travel.  May our souls ever find rest in You.  Amen. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Make Straight My Paths


Psalm 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

In January of this year, a postcard arrives in the mail.  It is an advertisement for Main Street Pharmacy, a new business in Kennesaw slated to open in the spring.  I see it as a great opportunity for a book signing if I can hook up somehow to their grand opening.

I e-mail the contact person on the card to inquire about this possibility.  He responds in the affirmative, assuring me he will be in touch as the opening nears.

Spring arrives.  Flowers are in bloom, but Main Street Pharmacy has yet to show any signs of life.  Summer comes.  Still, no opening.  And, no word from the gentleman I contacted.

Then, in early September, I see from a post of a friend on Facebook raving about how amazing a store Main Street Pharmacy is.  They're open???  I search for their page on Facebook.  Sure enough.  They opened on the last day of August with the grand opening planned for September 4th.

I've missed it . . . I am so disappointed!  I was really hoping I could be included in that event.

But, when another Facebook friend tells me she has spoken to the supervisor at Main Street and found out they are very much willing to host book signings, I march myself right down to the store.  Grand opening or not, just an opportunity to sign and sell books in my hometown is good enough for me!

The supervisor greets me warmly.  She pulls out the store's calendar.

"Choose any date you like," she says with a smile.

Since I already have three signings in September, I flip to October.

"Would Saturday, October 12th, be all right?  Say from 1:00 to 3:00?"

"Sounds perfect!  Just make sure you bring us some posters about two weeks in advance so we can advertise the event."

"I'll do it!"

It is two days before the book signing.  I visit a free on-line advertising service we have in town called Kennesaw Patch.  My plan is to write a blurb announcing my gig at Main Street Pharmacy.

That's when I see their ad.  I click on it.  What???  Their Grand Opening is this Saturday?  The day I'm there?  Oh, wow!  I can't believe it!  I didn't miss it after all!

~

I've written many times on the theme of God's perfect timing.  In learning to trust Him instead of leaning on my own understanding, I see Him setting my paths straight again and again.  When it seems things just aren't going according you your plans, are you stopping to ask God what His plans are?  Are you waiting?  Watching?  Praying?  Trusting that He will make straight your paths?

Will you pray with me?
Father, let us trust in You with our whole hearts.  May we lean not upon our own understanding, but submit to Your will and Your ways in all circumstances.  We know only You can make straight our crooked paths.  Amen.

Here are some photos my husband, Danny, took of the Grand Opening.  Enjoy!


Outdoor fun!


This is truly an beautifully designed store.









This young lady had the voice of an angel.  Believe it or not, she is only 14-years-old!




Here are some photos of me interacting with some amazing folks at the signing.









Kudos to Main Street Pharmacy for your hospitality!  Grey and I loved every minute of it!


Friday, October 11, 2013

And, Don't You Remember?


Mark 8:18
Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?  And don't you remember?

Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder. ~E. B. White

My granddaughter, Virginia Rose, is delight in action.  I never cease to learn something new from her each time she visits.  At age three, she is markedly more aware of the world around her, but she largely remains in her own small one.  That finite world which defines her as the center of the universe.

What do I mean by that?  Let me offer an example.  We are in the same room.  I'm watching her tossing a tennis ball with her Papa, aka, Danny.  She makes a great catch.

"Look, Gammie!  See?  Ginya caught the tenna ball!"

"I see," I assure her, wondering how she was unaware that I was watching the entire exchange.

Then, it hits me.  Whether or not we are standing right there, intently observing, without Virginia's perception being explained outside her immediate involvement, nothing has transpired!  Her affirmation of the action which just took place is the only thing which enables others to share in her experience.

And, it hits me again.  Hard!  How many times had God said, "Look, Martha!  See?  What a marvel I've made of this moment!"  Have I assured Him with an, "I see, Lord," or have I missed it because I'm too caught up in the cares and worries, the fears which Satan would have me fall prey to?

Have I missed this one-of-a-kind opportunity?  Have I ceased to wonder?  Did eyes and ears fail to see and hear?

Did I forget how much He loves me?  How He is present and close and available to me every second of the day?

Did I dare take for granted His mighty power and majesty shining through even the smallest of details?

"Look, Gammie!  See!  Hear!"

Let me see, Lord, let me see and hear . . .

So, that in everything, in every place, in every time, I stand in the presence of Your wonders.

~

Are you standing in the presence of God's wonders today?

Will you pray with me?
Loving Father, may Your will be done in all things.  Let us remember, even when we don't feel Your presence, that You are there with us.  Open our eyes and ears to the glories You have in store, that we might praise You and bring Your Kingdom that much closer to fruition in this world.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Well Done!


Matthew 25:21
His master replied, "Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come, and share your master's happiness!"

Recently, my family attends the dedication ceremony of three resident halls on the Emory - Oxford College campus in the small, historic town of Oxford, Georgia.  We are guests of honor as one of those halls is named after my father, William H. (Bill) Murdy.

Dad's career began at Emory University in Atlanta, or "Big Emory" as the Oxford College folks refer to it.  He taught biology for over 30 years, serving multiple times as chairman of the department.  Time and again, Dad found himself in situations which called for true servant leadership (you can read a detailed description of what it means to be a servant-leader at my friend, Andy Wood's, blog Lifevesting).  His talents were noticed.  Really noticed.

My brother, Bill, affectionately recounts the day when the president of Emory tapped our father to be the new dean of the then struggling Oxford College.

"Can you give me a few weeks to think about it?"  Dad asked as this would mean a huge life-shift for him.

"I'll give you all the time you need," the president assured him, "as long as your answer is 'yes.'"

And, as they say, the rest is history.  Dad served as dean of Oxford College from 1987 until he retired in 1999.  In those 12 years, the college saw a massive transformation for the better.

Why?  Because Dad let with vision, confidence, and respect for all who worked with him.  He valued their input.  He listened attentively.  Everyone had a role to play.  Everyone was an important part of the Oxford team.

Dad never asked anyone to do anything he wasn't willing to do himself.  He was never too busy to lend a helping hand or give requested advice.  He practiced the art of civil discourse, and compromise when necessary.

But, as the speaker noted when recalling Dad's qualities:  "Dean Murdy never compromised on his values."

Nor, should we.

As Christians, we are called to carry Christ's message of love into the world, but not be of the world.  We are called to be good and faithful servants, in tasks both large and small.  If we are following our Lord, we are loving Him with our whole hearts and loving others as ourselves.

Dad's life and work reflected this Golden Rule.  The beautiful residence hall may bear his name, but his legacy of love, leadership, and service are written on countless hearts of Oxford graduates, faculty, and staff.

And, on the heart of God . . .

Well done, Dad!  Well done!

~

At this point in my posts, I usually leave a question for you.  Today, I leave you with photographs from this day's events taken by my husband, Danny.  Enjoy!


It was a windy day, and these coverings of photos and plaques kept trying to blow away.



My brother, Bill, and mom, Nancy, talking with Oxford folks.



Waiting for the ceremony to start.


Dean Stephen Bowen is the first speaker.



Joe Moon, Dean of Campus Life, was hired by my Dad and is still faithfully serving the college.


Michele Sheets, Director of Residential Education & Services


Bill and I holding etched glass tributes to our father's legacy.  Very emotional . . .




Virginia Rose was so well behaved during the ceremony.



Three generations enjoying the beautiful day.


The residence hall


Love this photo of my dad . . .

Will you pray with me?
Dear Father, create in us the heart of a servant, that we may love and serve You with our whole hearts and love others as ourselves.  We thank You for the lives and legacies of other Christians who have inspired us in our faith walk.  May we one day hear You say of our earthly lives, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"  Amen.

Postscript:  After seeing the photos, some of you may be wondering why my father is not at the ceremony.  Unfortunately, or, perhaps, fittingly, as Dad always hated being "fussed over," his Alzheimer's has progressed to the point where he can no longer leave the house.

Friday, October 4, 2013

We Walk by Faith


Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

As I write this devotion, it is day one of the government shutdown.  By the time you read this, the government could be back up and limping running again.

Maybe . . .

The last time this happened, the shutdown lasted for three weeks.  All the while, my husband, Danny, who works for the Environmental Protection Agency, had no job.  No income.

It's the same scenario all over again.

Did we see this coming?  Did we prepare?  Yes, as best we could.  And, now, with the uncertainty of the length of unemployment, and the question of whether or not federal workers will be given back pay for these missed days, we walk by faith.

Danny and I discuss this month's budget and examine any areas in which we can cut expenses.  With his being our sole source of income, it's especially important to lay all the cards on the table.  To separate needs from wants.  Not that either of us are ones to splurge on anything, but being mindful never hurts.

Lucky for us, Danny keeps a monthly budget on Excel and makes sure it balances to the penny.  This makes it easier for us to see where corners can be cut and modifications made.

While October will see a tightening of our financial belts, the one thing we won't skimp on is what we give to our church.  I'd rather eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day of the week than deny my God His due.  After all, it is He who will see us through these tenuous times.  Give us hope and comfort in the day of trouble.

So, we will pray.

We will hope.

We will be confident.

We will trust.

And, always, walk by faith with our God.


~

Are you facing financial uncertainties today?

Will you pray with me?
We pray today, Father, for all those persons adversely affected by the loss of a job.  In the midst of their troubles, give them hope and confidence.  Lead and guide them in Your will and Your ways, and give them the faith to trust that You are working all things for good.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fingerprints of God


1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

My mother has a favorite saying, one I heard repeatedly growing up:  Don't judge a book by its cover.  Sage advice, but easier said than done.  Especially in a culture which celebrates outward beauty and youthful looks.

We need seek no further than the "People" type of magazines confronting us each time we stand in the grocery store check out line.  Their glossy, come-hither covers feature entertainers and celebrities with flawless looks and perfect figures.  Those who are deemed by the media to be stunningly gorgeous or handsome.  It's enough to make us loathe looking at our own reflection in the mirror.

Then, there are what I like to call the "rag-mags," the weekly trash bins touting  in lurid photos which movie stars are now overweight, or who look hideous without make-up, or are dressing in an unflattering or scandalous manner.  When we see how "ugly" they are in appearance, don't most of us feel, unfairly, might I add, just a wee bit better about our own looks?  I wouldn't be caught dead in a bathing suit that skimpy!  I thought I was fat - just look at her!  She's just a Plain Jane without her make-up after all.

And, on and on and on we can go.  It is human nature to be drawn to the outward beauty of a person even though we may experience episodes of jealousy, or be repulsed, and selfishly gratified, by another's physical detriments.

It is sinful human nature.

In this year I've named "Love," God has opened my eyes in surprising, delightful, and even alarming ways.  When I catch myself on the verge of judging that person-book by his/her looks, either exquisite or lacking, He gently nudges me, reminds me of His great love for all people no matter how they may appear on the outside.  He takes my hand to walk that second mile of understanding and compassion.  Asks me to love them.  To see His fingerprints all over them.

To know, unequivocally, that His fingerprints are on me, too.  That I am His beloved child, loved and cherished just the way I am.

No matter what the mirror says.

Loved . . .


~

You are God's unique creation.  His fingerprints are all over you!  Will you live that way? 

Will you pray with me?
Thank You, Father, for showing us that beauty is only skin deep.  Give us the eyes to see as You see and the the hearts to love as You love, knowing Your fingerprints are on every precious person You have created.  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...