Friday, October 28, 2016

I Lift Up My Eyes


As my husband, Danny, and I have recently returned from a glorious autumn trek to the Great Smoky and Nantahala Mountains, we want to share some of our ventures into God's magnificent creation with you.

I have paired Scripture with some of Danny's outstanding photos.  My prayer is that you will meditate upon God's Word as you experience His glory captured by Danny's artistic eye.

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains - 
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth. ~Psalm 121:1-2








"Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." ~John 7:38













"Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." ~Matthew 6:29









"But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." ~Matthew 5:44-45











I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way -
a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
"Prepare the way of the Lord,
Make straight paths for him." ~Isaiah 40:3











Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." ~Luke 9:58





And no one pours new wine into old wineskins.  Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. ~Luke 5:37



If my people who are 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 forgive their sins and heal their land. ~2 Chronicles 7:14



What Scripture spoke to your heart today?  Which photo was your favorite?  Please share in the comments.

God bless!




Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?


Ephesians 2:10
For we are the product of His hand, heaven's poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.  (The Voice)

The created heart is never your enemy, but instead is like a building that holds the contents of the real you formed at conception - your authentic and individual self.  Your heart comes alive when you are doing what you were created to do, making it silly for you to try to be someone you are not.  ~Christa Black Gifford, Heart Made Whole

Take a moment to reflect upon the way you were as a child.  What type of personality did you display?  What activities did you enjoy the most?  Were your interests and passions encouraged, or were they thwarted by those closest to you?  As an adult, are you pursuing the things which make your heart sing as a youth, or are you simply going through the motions of living, afraid to follow the passionate path your heart longs to take?

Chances are, if you are not living out the dreams and delights you once treasured as a child, somewhere along the line, you've encountered "heart trauma."  As author, Christa Black Gifford, in Chapter Two of her book, Heart Made Whole, describes it:  " . . . trauma is any place in your heart where your pain stays greater than your joy."

Ouch!  I don't know if that's true for you, but I do know that for too many long-suffering years, this is my story.  My people-pleasing obsession, coupled with an overly sensitive nature, forces me to forego the desires of my true heart, the one upon which heaven's poetry is etched, to do, instead, what I perceive as my duty and obligation.

It is a death trap; a whirling vortex spinning me further and further away from the person God has created me to be.  My heart is fast becoming my own worst enemy.

Until . . .

The day Jesus touches it.

And I realize, slowly and incrementally, that my life is not about pleasing people, it is about pleasing God.  I am made in His image to accomplish the good works He intends for me, and me alone.  And the desires of my heart, long denied, begin to grow and flourish beyond even my wildest of dreams.

God mends this broken heart and makes it whole.

As Gifford confirms, "When your heart is made whole, your truest identity joins together with the spiritual reality of who God created you to be."

Amen!

~

For the next seven weeks, I will be joining Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, along with other Christian bloggers, in a discussion of Christ Black Gifford's book, Heart Made Whole - Turning Your Unhealed Pain into Your Greatest Strength.  Please join us as we read a chapter a week and post our thoughts every Wednesday.


God bless!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Take a Walk on the Prayer Side


James 5:16
The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

I hate to admit this, having lived in the Fairfax neighborhood for eleven years, but I only know a handful of my neighbors by name.  Sure, I recognize faces when folks are out walking their dogs or working in their yards, but learning who they are beyond a friendly wave?  Sadly, no.

Something happens recently, though, which promises to change all that.  Many of us are connected online through a chat room entitled Neighborhood Fairfax.  Tom posts that he is discouraged by the state of disrepair into which the sign at the entrance of our neighborhood has fallen.  This precipitates a lively exchange as many of us suggest ideas and solutions.

Before we know it, an artistically talented man by the name of Ron, volunteers to completely overhaul the sign if we are willing to contribute monetarily.  I am delighted by the eager response of my neighbors as pledges come pouring in!  And just look at Ron's marvelous handiwork replete with fall decorations!


Now it might seem like I'm shifting subjects here, but bear with me.  It is only days after the sign is erected that I read a post by my blogging friend, Beckie Lindsey, at Spotlight about the concept of Prayer Walking.  Beckie writes:  The idea of prayer walking through your community is to allow your prayers to extend beyond your own concerns, focusing on the needs of others, while opening yourself to see them with God's eyes and heart.  Prayer Walking is simply taking our prayers to the very places we desire to see God's presence manifested.

What an awesome concept!  I decide, then and there, to skip the treadmill at the gym and instead, walk through Fairfax, praying for those living in each and every home.  I ask God to pour His blessings of love, grace and peace on all who dwell there; I pray, too, that if they do not yet know Jesus, that God would lead them to accept Him as their Lord and Savior.

I have to say, without reservation, that this is the best walk I've ever experienced.

I didn't think about me, or how tired my legs were feeling (we have a lot of hills in our 'hood), or how hot the day was waxing.  My entire being is focused on prayer.

On God.

On my neighbors.

I still can't put names with the faces, though I'm holding out hope.  But after my prayer walk, I feel I love and appreciate my neighbors in an entirely new way.

God's way.

Amen.

~

Meditations of My Heart will be on hiatus next week as Danny and I head for the North Carolina mountains.  It's our first visit to a cabin during the peak leaf-changing season, so we are really pumped!  As usual, when I get away like this, I tune down/turn off social media, so will not be reading/commenting on any of your always wonderful blogs.  I will return here on WEDNESDAY, not the usual Tuesday, October 26th.  God's blessings to you all!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Something to Smile About


Lamentations 3:22-23
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Three weeks ago, while my husband, Danny, and I are at Jekyll Island, our oldest granddaughter, Virginia Rose, loses both of her front baby teeth.  This certainly changes her appearance, wouldn't you agree?





And every time I see them, two-year-old Savannah Jane and fourteen-month-old Alexandra Nancy have learned new words and gained new skills.


Savannah can't quite say "Gammie" yet - it comes out "Mimi," which is cute because it's Danny's mother's name!


And Alexandra?  Just the other day she said, "Thank you, Mama," to my daughter!  Just wow!

The girls may vary in looks and ages, but I see the common threads of joy and curiosity woven through all of them.  Just being around them always makes me smile!

While it's hard to see all our little grands growing up so fast, growth, and the changes it brings, is inevitable.  And though there will be an end to a child's physical growth one day, there is no limit to how much she or he can continue to grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Just as the Lord's compassion toward us is new every morning, we can look at each new day as an opportunity to learn new things, to expand our minds, and most importantly, move that much closer to God in faith and trust.

We can reawaken the wonder and curiosity of the child within us, looking at the seemingly ordinary things around us as if seeing them for the first time.  We can dare to have joy even in the midst of darkness and troubles.

Because we can rest assured of God's great love and unfailing compassion for His children, no matter how young or old we are.

And that's something to smile about!

Amen.

Friday, October 7, 2016

An Air of Refinement


Isaiah 48:10
See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.

A while back, my husband, Danny, decides he needs to spruce up what we affectionately call the Orlando Cafe with white napkins.  It amazes me that something so simple can be so elegant at the same time.  The napkins certainly add an air of refinement to our dinner table.

When we've sufficiently soiled enough of the napkins, it's time to wash and bleach them.  I hang them on our clothesline to dry.



But look what happens!  All those stiff, starchy, pristine napkins are now a wrinkled, disheveled heap of limpness.




Luckily, there is a cure for that.  Starch, a scorching-hot iron, and a firm touch.







It's a long and arduous process (Thank you, Danny!!!), but the results are well worth the effort.




And this reminds me of how God works within us.  He takes us from unkempt, unruly sinners to upright, upstanding citizens of His kingdom.  But it's not a painless transformation.  As Isaiah says above, God will test us in the furnace of affliction.

Just as the cool, rumpled cloth of the napkin must come under enormous heat and pressure in order to be made new, so we, too, as we grow in our faith and trust in God, can expect to experience trials, tribulations and temptations that strive to weaken our faith just as God is attempting to perfect it.

So remember, when troubles surround you, God has your back.  He will stick by you through thick and thin, even when you don't feel His presence.

Trust.

Believe.

God is refining you.  Making you holy.

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. ~Hebrews 10:14

Amen.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

It's All About Love and Grace


2 Corinthians 13:14
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

It's been almost a year since I've attended any festival/event where I sign and sell my books.  I find out about Oktoberfest, held annually at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, from someone in our neighborhood on-line chat group.  As it is a venue I've never been to, I have no idea what to expect, but I fill out the application and send in my vendor fee, hoping for the best.

In the week before Oktoberfest, my nerves start to fray and my mind begins to race with anxious thoughts.  Will the space they assign me be in a heavily traveled area of the building?  What if I don't sell enough books to even make up for the fee I am charged?  What if >gasp< I don't sell a single book?  (Don't laugh.  That actually happened at an all-day event I attended two years ago.)

So I pray the prayer I've learned to pray before attending an event:  "Lord, if it is Your will, let me sell lots of books."  I ask for the peace of His presence if and when too many seemingly interested buyers depart my table empty-handed.  And I pray not to take what can  seem like outright rejection personally.

The day of Oktoberfest arrives with the promise of lots of sunshine and a healthy dose of cool, crisp fall air - a welcome respite from our unpleasantly hot summer here in the South.  I can't say I'm still not apprehensive, but praying throughout the week has worked wonders within me.  I put on my extrovert face, ready to take on whatever happens as the long day unfolds.



God is so good!

Within the first thirty minutes, I sell eight books!  One gem of a woman buys all six books in the two series, just based on my description of the stories and characters.  Now there's a stellar example of faith!

And yes, the event turns out to be one of my most successful ones, financially, to date.

But better than that, and far more meaningful in the grand scheme of things, is the incomparable and grace-filled kindness shown to me not only by those organizing Oktoberfest, but also by fellow vendors and the shoppers themselves.  I can't begin to tell you how many engaging conversation I have with such interesting individuals, who all have their own stories to tell.  I am absolutely overwhelmed by this outpouring of authenticity and caring.

As if this weren't enough, I am reunited with a former student, a wonderful young man named Garrison, whom I taught when he was in seventh grade!  We have been friends on Facebook for quite a while, so though he is now twenty-one, I recognize him right away.  It turns out Garrison and his family are long time members of Holy Trinity, and he is eager to catch me up on all that's been happening in his life.  Having Garrison around certainly made the day fly by in a cheerful and blessed way!



Will I be returning to Oktoberfest next year?  You can bet on it!

Because of all the events I've done, this one shines God's presence the brightest, reminding me of what Racer tells the elderly preacher in Children in the Garden:  "It's all about love and grace."

And truly, it is.

Amen.

The Truth Will Set You Free

John 8:32 You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. Peter is the disciple with whom I most readily relate.  Impetuou...