Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Best Laid Plans

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you, " declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Since most of my book signings have been indoors or at businesses with wide, and typically Southern, porches where I can easily shelter myself and my novels should the weather turn inclement, I am not prepared for last Saturday's unpredictable drizzle at an outdoor fair and market in which I agree to participate.  This is my first "contract" appearance; paying the fee means remaining at the venue from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon.  

Had I checked the forecast?  You bet!  Before doling out the money the week of the fair, and right on up through Saturday morning, I check it.  Partly sunny, it promises.  No chance of rain.


 When the first drops of mist begin to fall, I hastily dry the few droplets collecting on my displayed books, and drape my new and, fortunately, water-resistant table cloth over books, bookmarks, and business cards.  Thankfully, my extra books are sheltered in bags under the table, and would be in jeopardy only if we have a gully-washer.  But, how, I wonder, will the rainy weather dampen attendance at the fair?  How in the world can I even sell the books to the brave souls who do show up if no one can even view them?

A women selling Avon products is two spaces away from me.  We chat congenially before the rain starts.  I tell her about my novels, and she shares how she recently moved here from California, and is back in the Avon business after taking a ten year hiatus.  She introduces herself as Cheri, and I immediately am drawn to her bright smile and positive attitude.  I know Cheri will be a terrific neighbor for the hours stretching before us.  I'm feeling blessed.

Little do I realize just what a blessing she will be!  When it's obvious the sprinkles aren't going to abate any time soon (oh, and it's cold, too, and I neglected to bring my jacket), Cheri, who is safely protected underneath a tent, calls out, "Martha!  Grab your books and share my table.  I don't need all this room."

"You mean it?  Really?  You are a lifesaver, Cheri!"

"Isn't that what we're supposed to do as Christians?  Help each other out?"

"You are absolutely right about that," I say as I hastily begin to gather my wares and lay out my display in an abbreviated fashion on the half of the table she has generously cleared for me.  "I just don't get this weather.  If I'd suspected they'd be the slightest chance of rain, I'd never have planned on being here today."

"You know," Cheri wisely observes, "we can plan all we want, but God has the final say.  I think this rain today is a reminder to us that He has the best laid plans, whether we think they suit our needs or not."

And, guess what?  Because the Lord sent the rain, not only do Cheri and I have a spectacular day together, but I leave there in the afternoon knowing I've found a new friend whom I feel I've known my entire life.  What greater blessing could there be?


Have you endured times when things looked bleak, yet God turned them into blessings?

Prayer:  Father, may we always trust in Your perfect and best laid plans for our lives.  When situations appear hopeless in the moment, may we turn to You in prayer for guidance and peace, knowing You have promised to give us hope and a future.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Friday, September 26, 2014

God's Perfect Faithfulness

Isaiah 25:1
Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.

I'm inching closer to finishing and adding the last touches on the first novel in the new Adventures in The Glade series, one which will continue the story of Davy and the Old Ones, along with his family and friends from the original Glade Series.  This is no sauntering nor casual stroll through the park for me.  With all senses in full gear, I tackle these words I've written with fresh awareness and judicious criticism.  There is no room for the mediocre when God's message requires revelation and inspiration.  I am trusting in Him to both guide and provide.

Throughout this process, I've become so acutely aware of God's perfect faithfulness.  Not once has He let me down.  Oh, to be sure, there are passages with which I've struggled to reconstruct, or to find the exact words which communicate the message I intend, but it isn't long before I hear His voice, measured and clear, pushing my fingers to the keys and producing the writing He has envisioned all along.

Planned long ago . . .

Do I understand?


Do I accept?


How could I do otherwise?

God has graced me with the talent and passion for writing, to create stories which honor and glorify Him.  I give thanks every single day for this gift, and pray to use it wisely and well.  That being said, I'm back in the blogging business, my friends.  You can now anticipate regular posts every Tuesday and Friday here at Meditations of My Heart.  And, I'm returning to it fresh, recharged and ready to go.  To reflect here upon God's Word and, I hope, offer you some meaningful inspiration for your day.

Blessings to all of you!


Are you pursuing your passion in life?  How does God assure you He is in it all?

Prayer:  Father, may we exalt You and praise Your name each and every day.  Let us trust in Your perfect faithfulness, knowing the wonderful things you have prepared for our lives were planned long ago.  May all that we think, do or say be to Your honor and glory.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

50 Women Every Christian Should Know - Book Review and Giveaway!

1 Thessalonians 4:18
Therefore encourage one another with these words.

As Christians, we know our faith journey is no cake walk.  We stumble and fall.  We have fears and doubts.  We struggle with adversity and seemingly insurmountable challenges.  

In all the difficult times we face, however, we know we can trust in a loving God to see us through, one way or another.  Yet, along the way, we also need encouragement and inspiration from those who have traversed the same territory and experience setbacks and victories similar to those we've encountered in our own lives.

In her latest book, 50 Women Every Christian Should Know, author Michelle DeRusha introduces us to heroines of the faith whose lives were anything but a bowl of cherries, and how their Christian beliefs strengthened them even in the most trying and tragic of times.  Michelle's fluid and engaging prose and her thorough, detailed research, have combined to produce fifty biographical vignettes which will capture and captivate your mind and your heart.  As I read about each amazing woman, from Hildegard of Bingen to Flannery O'Connor, I related to so many of them in personal, meaningful and poignant ways, discovering how so many of my own struggles to grow in my faith were reflected in their lives.  I felt I had met forever friends, ones whose pasts still continue to shine the light of Christ into the present moment.

The title of Michelle's book says it all - as Christians, these are most definitely 50 inspiring women each of us should take the time to get to know.  I sincerely hope you will order the book here, and/or visit Michelle at her website.  And, if you share this post on your Facebook, Google+, or Twitter feeds (and let me know you did so in the comments section), I will enter your name in a drawing for a free copy of Michelle's marvelous memoir, Spiritual Misfit.  Believe me, it's a read you don't want to miss!

Do yourselves a big favor today and order Michelle's book.  Her words, and lives of these heroines, are sure to encourage you!

Prayer:  Father, we thank You for the amazing, inspiring lives of the 50 women showcased in Michelle's book, and for giving her the talent and ability to write in such a comfortable, down-to-earth, and entertaining way.  We ask blessings on this book, on Michelle and her family, and on all those who will read 50 Women Every Christian Should Know.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Our Reward is With God

Isaiah 49:4
But I said, "I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing at all.
Yet what is due me is in the Lord's hand,
and my reward is with my God."

As many of you, my faithful readers, already know, my blog posts here at Meditations of my Heart have been sporadic as of late due to my need to focus on my next series of novels, Adventures in the Glade, which will pick up where The Glade Series left off in the last book, The Moment of  Truth.  (There is a link to my website from which you can order the books at the top, right-hand side of this page.)  While I've enjoyed moderate success with the novels as far as volume sales, the joy of hearing positive feedback from all who have read the books far outweighs the satisfaction of financial gain.  Still, I have to admit, if the books went viral, it would be a splendid bonus.

In a recent conversation with my mother, we discuss the progress of the new series.  She asks me, bluntly and honestly, "How can you keep on writing when your first series hasn't really taken off yet?"

My answer?  "Mom, I have to write.  I'm called to write.  It's God's will for me to use the gifts He gave me for His glory."

And, that's the bottom line.

It may appear to the world that I labor in vain.  For the world values treasure and wealth, fame and notoriety.  While those are not necessarily bad things in and of themselves, they cannot even begin to hold a candle to placing God first in our lives, and trusting that any reward due us is in His hands.  I know I've assigned the timing of any success I might realize squarely in God's care.  I am faithful that, because of Him, my words will speak to those who most need to hear them and take them to heart.

So, where am I in this new series?  As I write this, I'm on Chapter 7 of the third book in the trilogy.  My goal is to have the first book, tentatively entitled Revenge!, to my publisher by the end of September.  If I'm aiming for a pre-Christmas release, she must have them by that deadline.  At first, I balked at the notion of sending it before completing the other novels, but that fear God assuaged only this past weekend.  I will now be dividing my time for the remainder of the month between rewriting/editing the first book and working on the last one which I, gratefully, will have long months to tweak and perfect.

Yes, my friends, my posts will continue to be intermittent, and I do hope you will bear with me until I'm back in full gear by October.  In the meantime, if you're on Facebook, you can track my progress by liking The Glade Series.  I'll be posting updates there about twice a week.

Most of all, knowing you all will keep me in your thoughts and prayers would be a boon and a blessing as I traverse this hectic, yet soul-satisfying, journey.  I so appreciate your patience, understanding, and encouragement.  Sending each and every one of you my love!

I've asked you to keep me in prayers during this time.  Is there anything happening in your life for which you would like me to pray?  Please share in the comment section.

Prayer:  Father, we know that whether or not the world sees us as successful, we always are when we obey Your will for our lives.  Our reward is with You, and there is nothing we desire more than that.  May all our creative efforts, done in Your name, be pleasing in Your sight.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Keys to the Kingdom

Matthew 16:17-19
Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.  I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, will be loosed in heaven."

Pastor Lindsey, our new associate minister at Kennesaw United Methodist Church, shares two lively and amusing stories in her sermon two weeks ago.  The first details the struggles she went through to obtain her driver's license.  It made me think back to my own driving test, and how I barely passed the parallel parking which was for Lindsay, as was for me, on equal footing with ascending Mount Everest.  I just wasn't happening!

The second story which resounds with my own memories is the one Lindsey tells about holding the key to her first car, a 1986, monk's habit-brown, Toyota Corolla which she purchases with her own money for $1,000 in 2006.  Though my first car, a Honda Civic, is a college graduation gift for which I don't pay a dime, I immediately identify with the thrill Lindsey describes feeling when handed that car key for the first time.

Oh, the adult responsibility it conveys!  The promise of new-found freedom!  I recall admiring my key chain which boasted a mere car key and house key, and wishing more were dangling there.  Keys, at least in my pre-Jesus and self-absorbed youthful eyes, conveyed a sense of entitlement, authority, and prestige.

I wanted that.  I desired that.

I craved that . . .

And, as I traversed and stumbled through myriad job experiences after college, not really know who I was, or what would fill the meaningless void I felt within me, I derived an odd comfort in the accumulation of keys.  Keys which opened retail stores, restaurants, cash registers, apartments, and offices.  The growing additions on my ring signaling, with each power-promising key, providing a temporary security for my so very insecure and malleable soul.

What Pastor Lindsey addresses in her sermon forces me to recall so acutely how broken and jaded my life was before I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.  She reiterates the scripture from Matthew quoted above, and emphasizes that, just as Jesus handed Peter the keys to the kingdom, so He gives them to us when we are willing to accept them, and turn them in the lock which opens the door to healing and redemption in His name.

As we approach the Lord's Table for communion, Lindsey invites us to take a key from a wicker basket containing hundreds of them, all to remind us that Jesus offers to us the keys to the kingdom each and every day.  I do not hesitate for a second to choose one and place it in my pocket, knowing it will find a most treasured, invaluable position on my key chain.

It will reside there permanently.  My constant reminder that Jesus has given me the key to His everlasting kingdom.

A reminder that I am called to be the locksmith who frees the hearts of other to accept and follow Him.

A key which opens the only door which matters.

The only door . . .

How many keys are hooked on your key chain?  Are they freeing you, or weighing you down?

Prayer:  Father God, You have given us, through Your Son, Christ Jesus, the keys to your kingdom.  Let us, with one heart and mind, vow to unlock the doors we may have closed to others who desperately need to hear Your Word and receive Your gracious gift of redemption.  May we fling them wide to spread the love of Christ to all we meet.  In His precious name, we pray.  Amen.

Sing a New Song

  Danny and I in his new music studio Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. ~Psalm 96:1 A new song shall I sing unto...