Friday, September 27, 2013

Content and at Peace


Matthew 28:19-20
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.

As many of you already know, I've declared Sundays to be my day of rest from all things internet.  Everything, so far, has gone better than expected as you can read here.

However, this past Sunday is different.  The day before, we have to put our beloved cat, Allie, down due to cancer.  Danny is scheduled to travel to Nashville for a conference on Sunday afternoon.  My stepson, Giovanni, is home for dinner, but goes to his girlfriend's house for an evening visit.

I am, suddenly, all by myself.

Alone.

Oh, how I want to get on that internet!  To just connect!  Cruise through Facebook!  Check my e-mail!  Respond to blog comments!

This house is just too big, too empty, too quiet.  I so miss my loved ones.  I miss my friends.  I miss the chatter, the play, the conversations.

I want that internet!!!

And, then, His still, small voice comes to me . . . You are not alone, for I am always with you . . .

His comfort washes over me.  I am calmed.

I do some cleaning.  I bake cookies.  I write up blogs.  I indulge in a television program.  I listen to our CD from today's worship service.  I pray for others.  I reflect upon the day and give thanks to my Father that Danny arrived safely at his destination.  I pray for travel mercies on his return trip Tuesday.

And, I'm content and at peace.

I'm not alone.  I never will be.

For God's promise is true.  It is everlasting.

I am with you always to the very end of the age . . .

I don't need the internet.

I need the Lord.

~

When you are feeling alone, to whom do you turn?

Will you pray with me?
Father, we are so grateful that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to save us and assure us that we are never alone.  Through the Holy Spirit, He and You are with us every moment.  We need never feel lonely if we turn to You each and every day.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

CHAOS!


Matthew 11:28
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

We all go through times of confusion and upheaval in our lives.  While these experiences are inevitable, certainly, they are not ones we enjoy.

Maybe, it's a loss of a job or too much on your plate at work which sends you into a tailspin.  Perhaps, you're having issues with your spouse, significant other, or your child.  Or, you've lost a loved one, and the demands of life as you grieve are just too much.

Everything around you is CHAOS - Can't Handle Any Overwhelming Stress!

And, sometimes, our stresses can affect us not just mentally, but physically, too.  These physical manifestations can take any number of forms.  Can imitate serious health problems even when there are none.

In his book, Crazy Love, Christian author and pastor, Francis Chan, describes such an ordeal:

I had never experienced heart problems until a couple of years ago when I began to have heart palpitations.  Over time they became more frequent, and this worried me.

I finally told my wife.  In case something happened to me, I didn't want it to come as a complete shock.  She suggested I go to the doctor, but I resisted because I'm stubborn and that's what I do.

You see, when I was honest I knew what the problem was.  I was immersed in and overcome by stress.  It was the Christmas season, and I had to take care of and think about a lot of things.

But, on Christmas Eve the issue intensified so much that I told my wife I would go to the emergency room after the church service.  During the service, however, I surrendered all of my worries and stress to God.  My symptoms slowly went away, and I never went to the doctor.

Now, I'm not suggesting to you, nor do I think Pastor Chan is, that you ignore serious health issues if you are suffering from them.  By all means, see a doctor!  But, before you do, place all your worries and stress in the hands of the Great Physician.

Pastor Emily recently shared with me how she now defines CHAOS when everything seems to be in crisis and out of control.  Wow!  Did this ever speak to my heart!

CHAOS - Christ Has An Obvious Solution

Yes.  He.  Does.

I think we would all do well to remember that . . . 

~

How do you handle stress in your life?

Will you pray with me?
We are so thankful, Father, than when we are weary and burdened, or just plain stressed out, that we can know Your peace, Your comfort, Your rest.  May we always seek You first in times of trouble, knowing You will carry us through.  Amen.

You can order Francis' book, Crazy Love, here.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Greatest Story Ever Told


2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

When I was a child, I had several books which I read multiple times.  Why?  Because the stories and the characters were genuine, compelling, and they touched me deeply and indescribably.  What were those novels?  Charlotte's Web, The Hobbit, and The Chronicles of Narnia.  In my childhood, they were, to me, the greatest stories ever told.

And, if you've read The Glade Series, I'm sure you can detect the influence these beloved books and authors had on me.  What with the talking animals, the mystery, the adventure, and the underlying Christian themes, their inspiration becomes clear, though my writing voice is, indeed, my own.

When my first novel in the series, A Trip, a Tryst, and a Terror was released, I recall hoping with all my heart that it would become a favorite story in the hearts of others.  One which they wished to return to and reread countless times over.  That was my hope.

That was my prayer . . .

So, imagine my utter delight when I recently receive the following comment from my friend, Mary, on my Facebook page, The Glade Series.

After months of savoring it, I finally finished "The Moment of Truth"!  It was spectacular!!  You truly are a gifted writer!  The characters became my friends and, at the end, I was sad to close the book and see them all go!!!  To me, that's a sign of an amazing book!!  Please, please keep writing, sweetie!!

Could any writer anywhere not be overjoyed and overwhelmed by such a vote of confidence?  I know I am beside myself at Mary's generous, heartfelt praise.  Will she reread the series to hook back up with her new friends?  I do hope so!

And, what is it one is truly seeking when drawn to reread anything, be it fiction or non-fiction?  Do we identify with a particular character?  Are we in need of a good laugh, or a cry?  Or, are we so moved by the story's content that we simply must embark upon that journey one more time?

That's how I feel every time I read the Bible.  I can come across the same passages, the familiar words, the engaging stories, the hard lessons, the evidence of God's love, again and again and again, and never grow weary of them.  In fact, each time I reread, it seems God reveals something deeper and more meaningful than ever I could envision.

God, the consummate Story Teller, meets me where I am and carries me forward.  His stories renew me.  Lead me.  Heal me.

Make me whole . . .

I'll continue to read and reread for my lifetime the Greatest Story ever told.

~

How about you?  Will you continue to let God's stories speak to you, time and time again?

Will you pray with me?
Father in Heaven, we thank You today for the Scriptures You have given us, equipping us for every good work in Your name.  My we immerse ourselves daily in Your Word, and grow in righteousness because of Your lessons and love.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Forever Blowing Bubbles


Psalm 23:4
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me.

And, sometimes, the summer lasts, and the bubbles grow large, letting us know that, when the season passes, precious memories fill our hearts ~Sandra Heska King 

Summer is drawing to a close.  Gradually, yet unmistakably.  The temperatures are cooler, the air, drier.  Miniature acorns, not destined for ripeness, clatter on the rooftop, clutter up the deck.  They are joined by the first fallen leaves, released before autumn could pain their green in glory.

As I reflect upon the season, my heart relives a roller-coaster of memories.  Ups and downs.  Highs and lows.  There are days I wish to treasure forever.  There are days I long to leave behind.

But, all the memories have shaped who I am right at this very moment.  This moment.  I can't appreciate the ups unless I've been down.  I can't rejoice in the highs unless I've traversed the lows.

We cannot predict how long the good times, or the bad, will last.  It's like blowing bubbles.  We dip the wand into the soapy mixture, lift it to our lips, and blow upon it the best we know how.  Sometimes, our gentle breath creates the bulbous, luminous, gigantic bubble for which my granddaughter, Virginia, begs.

"Big one, Gammie!  Pweaze?  Twy, Gammie!"

"I'll do my best, Virginia."

Other times, our efforts produce only tiny orbs, or none at all as the viscous liquid breaks apart at the least provocation.  Leaves us with just the moist stains of regret on the floor of our souls.

But, when that happens, I refuse to give up hope.  I dip the wand once more.  I try again.

For, I know the promise of the Lord.  He is with me in the valley of shadows.  Ready to take me to green pastures.  There to lead me.  To offer me His hand in comfort.  Even when those pastures are miles away.

I will fear no evil.

I will let the bubbles of grace loom large, if not in real time, then in my heart, my soul, my imagination.  To see fruition in a time of God's choosing.

Summer is drawing to a close.  Fall approaches.  Change in seasons.  Change in our lives.

Unceasing, uncontrollable, and, sometimes, unwelcome.

It is what it is.  We are who we are.  We can't control the changes, but we can choose how we respond to them.

With God's help, we can forever blow those hopeful bubbles.  The ones iridescent and resplendent, sparkling in the sun's playful rays.

"Big one, Gammie!  Pweaze?"

And, memories can fill our hearts with joy . . .

~

What are your special summer memories?  Please share in the comment section.

Will you pray with me?
Dear Father, help us to ever blow those bubbles of hope in our lives because we set our faith on You.  Remind us that You are there to walk with us through the darkest valley, so we need not be afraid.  May we face each and every day with faith and courage as we place our hands in Yours.  Amen.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Perfect Timing


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

When the last book of The Glade Series, The Moment of Truth, arrives at my door in June, I am thrilled!  I contact two places which hosted book launches for A Trip, a Tryst, and a Terror and Children in the Garden.  To my dismay, one business is in the midst of relocating and the other is closing!

What am I to do?  What other venues might be interested in hosting a signing?  My wheels are whirling as I plan my strategy.

Then, my father's health takes an unexpected turn for the worse.  The whole family is plunged into a day-by-day, touch-and-go, wait-and-see mode.  My phone is with me 24/7.  I expect the call at any moment.  This is not the time to be making other plans.

So, I don't.  I place everything on hold.  At least, for the time being.

After all, it's not about me.  It's about my dad, my family . . .

But, in the last several weeks, though Dad is still suffering with Alzheimer's, his health, otherwise, seems to have stabilized.  Mom has caregivers coming in round-the-clock.  We visit regularly, taking Mom and Dad a meal every time we come.

And, I think how proud my father was of me when my books were published.  How thrilled he was for his daughter's writing success.

It's okay.  You can move on.  Your dad would want it that way . . .

Miraculously, in less than two weeks' time, I have four book signings scheduled.  Four!!!*

Once again, I'm reminded that everything happens in God's timing, not mine.  It's not about what I want or when I think I should have it.  It's when He say, "Go!"  That's the moment to jump, to move, to be ready for great things to happen.

Great things.  God things.  Arriving in abundance when the season is right.

~

When has something happened in your life that you recognized as being in God's timing, not yours?

Will you pray with me?
Father in Heaven, Your timing is perfect.  When we don't understand why things aren't happening when and how we think they should, remind us to trust in Your ways and Your will for our lives.  Grant us patience and peace in the waiting.  Amen.

*To see a list of where and when I will have book signing, go to my website and click on "News & Events."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Who Do You Say I Am?


Matthew 16:15
"But what about you?"  he asked.  "Who do you say I am?"

My granddaughter, Virginia Rose, is an inventive little soul.  She is resting on our couch, watching PBS kids, when I hear, "Gammie!  Come sit!"

I pour my coffee and gladly join her.  She looks up at me with a twinkle in her eyes and an impish grin on her face.

"Mommy?"

"I am not your Mommy!"  I say exaggeratedly, adding a teasing tickle to her tummy for emphasis.  This prompts peals of laughter from Virginia.  She likes this game!

"Daddy?"

"I am not your Daddy!"  Again, laughter abounds.

"Papa?"

"I am not your Papa!"  Now, we are both laughing so hard, we can barely catch our breaths.

When we finally calm down, Virginia looks up at me with those endearing blue eyes, pats my arm gently, and says, "You Gammie."

"That's right, honey.  I'll always be your Gammie."


~

In Virginia's world, I have no other moniker but "Gammie."  That is the word which defines, for her, who I am.  It also reveals the relationship we share, that of granddaughter and grandmother.

When Jesus asks the disciples, "Who do you say I am?", perhaps He is wondering, after all the miracles, the healings, and the teachings, if His followers truly understand who He is?  It's crucial that they do!  For Jesus knows His time on earth is growing short.  And, He has to prepare His friends for what is to come.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Phillipi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"

The replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." (Matthew 16:13-14)

That's not what Jesus wants to hear.  He's not concerned with the opinions and speculations of those outside His intimate circle.  Jesus wants to know if these men "get" who He truly is.

"But what about you?"  he asked.  "Who do you say I am?" (Matthew 16:15)

And, then, it comes.  The defining moment.  The relationship revealed . . .

Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16)

Amen, St. Peter!  Amen!

~

If Jesus stood before you and asked, "Who do you say I am?", what would your answer be?

Will you join me in prayer today?
Thank You, Father, for sending Your only Son, Jesus, into this world to be our Messiah, our Savior, our Deliverer.  Because of Him and His sacrifice, we can know You and be in relationship with You.  May all the world, in Your perfect timing, come to acknowledge Jesus as Lord of all.  Amen.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Righteous or Unrighteous, God is There


Matthew 5:45b
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

In our household, laundry is my domain.  My husband, Danny, hasn't had to run one load of clothes since we married in 2005.  Really!

Do I mind?  Not at all!  I love my Energy Star front-loader which washes our clothes so efficiently.  But, what I love most of all is being able to hang our laundry outdoors to dry.  Yes, you heard me right.  I like hanging the clothes on the line!

Before you stop reading the post at this juncture because you've decided I'm a bit daft, please allow me to share my rationale for doing this instead of using the dryer.


  • We save energy.  As Ben Franklin reminds us, a penny saved is a penny earned.  What's wrong with being frugal?  Those dollars not spent now will mean more money in the future.  How can that be a bad thing?
  • I get more exercise.  Although I work out in the gym on a regular basis, lugging the basket of wet, heavy clothes from the basement to the deck, and then hanging them out, pulling them in when dry, folding and putting them away, well, I think that counts for at least half a workout!
  • It's organized!  I have a regimen with regard to how I hang clothes.  Those that require the most drying time, like jeans, are penned first.  When all else is dry, I can give these items the time they need without having to take them off the line and put them back up.
  • It's organized, again!  When I hang clothes out, I can pin them in such a way that it makes putting them away in closets and drawers so much easier.  The dryer, while convenient and quick, jumbles the clothing and calls for the extra effort to seek and sort and coordinate.  Not a big fan of randomness.
  • Did I mention I don't like randomness?  When it comes to my clothespins, I have them arranged by color.  No article of clothing requiring two clothespins can be of different colors.  They must match!  Okay, I admit, this is somewhat truly anal on my part.  But, when did God ever say we can't have some order in our lives?  Hanging up clothes this way makes me feel better.  Can't explain.  Just does . . .
But, this summer, my clothesline and I have had limited interaction.  God has sent us more rain in these months than we have seen in forever!  In fact, I've used the dryer more in Jun and July than I have in the past two years.  Honestly!

I am grateful for the much needed rain, but I also long for those bright, sunny days.  I know that God will send both in His time.  I know He is with me each and every day, no matter what the forecast.

He is there.

With us always . . .

Rain or shine, summer or winter . . .








Righteous or unrighteous.

God is there!

~

Do you have any quirky habits when doing chores around the house?

Will you pray with me?
We thank You, Father, for being with us always, whether or not we deserve it.  We cannot earn Your blessings, yet you bestow them freely upon us.  Your love shines down upon the deserving and undeserving.  Your sunshine and rain fall upon the righteous and the unrighteous.  May we simply be thankful for all Your many blessings.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Love and Grace


Ephesians 2:4-5
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved.

Today's devotion is an excerpt from my second novel of The Glade Series entitled Children in the Garden.  For those of you who have not read the books and are unfamiliar with the premise, let me bring you up to speed so the passage will be meaningful for you.  Here is the story synopsis:

Spending the summer at Grandpa Will's farm with his family is the last thing ten-year-old Davy Murray wants.  How will he survive without his friends, the pool, and his computer?  There isn't even a television at Grandpa's house!  Doesn't anyone see how miserable he will be?

But then, the miraculous happens!  Davy meets Grey, True Squirrel of the Old Ones, whom only he can see and hear.  Now Davy understands why Grandpa asked him to believe in the stories of the talking animals!  And, why Grandpa called him The Chosen One!  Oh, what a truly delightful summer this will be after all . . .

Here is the excerpt:

When the time arrived for the sermon, Davy noticed that Grey hopped down from his spot in the choir and scurried to the communion rail in order, Davy surmised, to be able to see the preacher's face as he delivered his message.  While Pastor Williams began rather gently in his sermon, it quickly and alarmingly transformed into a classic "hellfire and brimstone" tirade, the likes of which Davy had never heard.  Instead of working to convict him of man's fallen and sinful nature, it only served to scare him out of his wits.  He glanced over at Anna to discern her reaction but, luckily for her, she was dozing obliviously, leaned up against Jim's arm.

"Do you know about Hell?"  Pastor Williams gestured wildly, his face crimson with exertion, his voice a crash of thunder.  "It's where you burn forever for your sins.  Not all that call him "Lord, Lord" will enter the Pearly Gates.  No!  It's hell and damnation for all eternity!"

Desperate for reassurance, Davy tried to will Grey to meet his eyes.  The squirrel had a scowl on his face; his arms were folded and one foot tapped impatiently on the rail.  If he were capable of glaring, he was now doing so at this man shouting, gesticulating, accusing behind the pulpit.  Suddenly, as if he felt Davy's terrified thoughts, Grey turned and met his friend's fearful eyes.  Davy saw the squirrel's droop in sorrow as he read the expression on the boy's face, then, he suddenly straightened up and, flashing Davy that lop-sided smile, began to mimic the pastor's every move, even lip-syncing his words of doom.  At first, Davy was shocked.  Wasn't it irreverent to imitate a man of the cloth in such a fashion?  Then, as Grey's antics became as wild and gyrating as the pastor's, Davy couldn't help but smile at the comical efforts of his friend.  A rejuvenating wave of peace and comfort washed over him and he actually discovered that a smile had crept across his face.

"And, YOU, child!"  The pastor pointed right at Davy.  "Yes, you smile now, but unless you take heed and turn from your wicked ways, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven!  Everyone must turn and repent!"

Grey stopped dead in his tracks, his mouth agape.  Davy froze, imagining that every eye in that small and intimate place was on him.  He wished a trap door would open up and swallow him whole.  In his shame, he didn't dare look at Mom or Jim or the Fairchilds.  He was turned inside out and felt, to his horror, he might even get sick to his stomach.  It was then Grey did a most incredible, unimaginable thing.  He leapt off the rail and raced down the aisle of the church for the front doors.  As he flew by Davy, he smiled and said, "Watch!"

Within seconds, pandemonium ruled.  Women screamed and men hollered as a seemingly crazed, larger-than-life squirrel dashed headlong down the center aisle aiming right for the pastor.  Without a break in momentum, he leaped for the pastor's chest and knocked him soundly onto his hind parts.  Not an alarming inch away from the man's nose, Grey whispered, "Love and grace, my brother, love and grace."

Pastor Williams emitted a pitiful moan and passed out.  Before anyone could apprehend him, Grey dashed through the door he had entered with the choir and vanished, it seemed to all, into thin air.

~

Did you enjoy this excerpt?  I'd love your feedback in the comments section.

Will you pray with me?
Thank You, for Your great love, Father.  Even though we were still sinners, You sent Your precious Son, Christ Jesus, to die for our transgressions.  May we be ever mindful of and thankful for Your grace which has saved us.  Amen.

If you would like to order The Glade Series, please click on Author's Website in the top, right-hand corner of this blog.

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