Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Magic and Memorable Moments


Proverbs 17:6
Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.

This past weekend, we enjoy having our oldest granddaughter, Virginia Rose, stay with us.  She is so excited when I tell her we will attend a special event, Museum Magic, at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, which is located right here in Kennesaw.  We are truly blessed to have this marvelous asset, home to the famous General, right in our backyard!




So what is Museum Magic?  Children of all ages are invited to travel to different stations throughout the venue, and create all kinds of Halloween-themed crafts.  Our first stop is goody bag making.




Little Miss I'm-in-a-Hurry draws her jack o' lantern eyes on the bottom of her bag.  We share a laugh over that!

After Virginia tries her hand at writing with a quill pen,


it's on to wand making!




It's amazing what a few ribbons and glitter can do!

We wander through the museum until we arrive at the classroom area.  Here, volunteers are helping children to make magic potions -



and Virginia's favorite - slime!



She couldn't wait to play with it when we got home!



We drop into the theater briefly to watch a bit of Monsters, Inc., then it's off to candle making.  Virginia is fascinated.




And here's her final product -


Don't think we can burn this twisty thing!

And of course, our tour wouldn't be complete without a trip to the gift shop.  There are so many unique items to attract the eyes of both children and adults.  Virginia zones in on a colorful display of "gems."




When I see that a full bag of these is only $5.99, I tell Virginia go for it.  She is absolutely thrilled!  Here are the treasures she chooses:


I still can't believe she crammed this many "gems" into this tiny bag!

Yes, our trip to the museum is both memorable and magical.  An experience, I'm sure, our Princess "Elsa" will remember for a long, long time.



Amen!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Magic Moves!


John 16:33
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."

My husband, Danny, and I love to play backgammon.  Traditionally, we would only play, though, when we were on vacation at a cabin.  And it isn't an easy game to learn or master, to which I can fully attest.  Thank goodness, over these many years, Danny has had the patience of Job as he attempts to teach me so I can improve my game.

Now that Danny's retired, we are playing much more frequently.  All this practice is beginning to perfect my strategic skills, but it's the odd night, indeed, when I win more games than he does.  The "magic" rolls, at least at a game's inception, are now burned indelibly in my brain.  This allows me to think quicker and move my pieces with greater confidence.

But what happens when those rolls simply refuse to materialize?  Frustration, that's what!

"Dang!"  I exclaim, after experiencing a trying game filled with uncooperative dice rolls, and getting soundly crushed by The Backgammon King.  "Where are those magic moves when I need them?  How am I ever going to get better at this game?"

Danny pats my hand reassuringly.  "You are getting better, Martha, even if it doesn't seem like it right now.  I can have all the strategy in the world, but if the dice don't roll in my favor, I can kiss it good-bye."

And that makes me think, in a Forest Gump kind of way:  "Life is like a backgammon game; you never know what you're going to get."

Oh, yes!  We can be sailing through our days without a care, saying and doing all the right things, making "magic" moves, when the world casts an unexpected, unwanted roll of the dice onto our Pollyanna path.  And if we're not mindful, the setbacks, problems and fears will confound us, disillusion us, and in the most profound circumstances, threaten to defeat us.

But with Jesus as our Master Strategist, we can surmount any obstacle the world hurls at us, knowing that our troubles are only temporary.  We can take heart!  Have hope!

We can endure with joy because of God's saving grace.

Knowing He will ever help us make the right moves.  Those magic moves.

And with His help, we will win the game.

Amen!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Get Back On and Ride!

Romans 5:3-4
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Last week, my husband, Danny, and I take our first road trip together since our misadventure at a mountain cabin last spring.  We are off to visit a retired co-worker of Danny's whom he hasn't seen in ten years.  Lynn lives in Tennessee, so we travel the three-and-a-half hour journey along back roads, where the scenery and the no-stress drive through farmlands and small towns provide a calming alternative to the nerve-wracking interstate.

It is a route we've never taken before, so everything is fresh and new.  And so different from the roads we traverse when heading to a cabin in North Carolina.  Whereas we see Walmarts and Ingles grocery stores, not to mention cities of substantial size along the NC route, none of that applies here.  Cows far outnumber people, towns are tiny, quaint and old-fashioned, and Dollar General vie with Baptist churches for domination of the landscape.

One thing I notice, much to my chagrin, is all along the 150-mile drive, there is a sign for only one medical center.  One.  It's not even a hospital, for cryin' out loud!  I push the upsetting memories of our last infamous trip out of my mind.  And I say nothing to Danny.

We arrive at Lynn's welcoming lake house just in time for lunch as we planned.  What a lovely afternoon, spent in pleasant conversation and the best of company.




Lynn with Curly Sue and Danny

Knowing he would have no interest in driving home the same day, Danny arranges for a room at a lakeside lodge nearby.  It's not at all like the cabins we're accustomed to, but it's comfortable, affordable, and has a restaurant right on the property.  Here are some gorgeous photos Danny takes.








This is the lodge on the lake. 

After a delicious dinner, as we're sitting out on the lodge deck, Danny's comments catch me off guard.  "I'm really glad we took this trip," he says.  "You know the old saying, 'When you get thrown by a horse, get back on and ride?'  I needed this short excursion to assure me that everything is okay before we actually head to a cabin in November."

I'm transported back to the time when I was twelve.  To my great delight, my parents surprise me with riding lessons over the summer.  All is fine and dandy until a frisky, feisty gelding, who hadn't been ridden for days, decides a romp around the ring is in order.  Needless to say, I fall off and, thankfully, tumble into a thick cushion of sawdust.  Winded and shaken, I'm reluctant to mount any horse, no matter how gentle the trainer says it is.  But I do.  And this docile, sedate old mare, Flora, convinces me that I'm safe with her.

She gives me hope.

I smile at Danny.  "Maybe all you needed was to get back on the pony before you took on the full-sized horse."

Danny laughs.  "I guess you're right about that," he admits.  "I feel so good about everything now.  Honestly, I've been anxious about returning to a cabin, even though I knew I would persevere, but this journey has done a lot to erase the bad memories of our last vacation."

"It has for me, too, honey," I confess.  "We've both endured so much suffering this year, but you know what?"

"What?"

"We never gave up hope."

And don't you, my friends, ever give up hope either.  Have faith!  Get back on that horse and ride!

Amen.

We're off on another short road trip to visit my mother.  If you leave a comment, know I will respond sometime Wednesday evening.  Blessings!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Battle Rages On


Today's blog is one I originally posted in November of 2013.  And no, the leaves here have not yet started to turn, but I know some of you live in areas of the country where they are not only changing, they're already falling.  So in the spirit of autumn, my favorite season of the year, let's celebrate the leaves!

2 Chronicles 20:15
He said, "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem!  This is what the Lord says to you:  'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God's.'"

Our house sits in the middle of a forest populated mainly by deciduous hardwoods.  We are smack dab in the middle of fall, and you know what that means.  Leaves!  Tons of them!  Raining from the sky.  Covering our decks.  Smothering our yard.

Fall isn't called 'fall' for nothing!

And when it comes to keeping the decks cleared and the yard clean, we have our work cut out for us.  I whisk away with the broom while my husband, Danny, wields the leaf blower.  Together, we tackle the onslaught.  Battle back the blitz of leaf troops which seem to gain ground daily.  Here is a pile I'm in the midst of sweeping up the other day after heavy winds and rain ushered in reinforcements.


And here is what the deck looked like just a day later.



The battle rages on . . .

And many days, I feel like the leaves are winning.  Even when I know that, eventually, all of them will have given up the ghost.  That I will, at some point, banish the last soldier off the deck and Danny will blow the last warrior from the yard.  The losing battle turned into a war won.

Wouldn't it be splendid if we could know that every battle we face on life's journey has a guaranteed winning outcome?  Unfortunately, when we fail to recognize God's goodness, even in the hard times, that's not the case.  We lose a loved one, lose a job, lose our health.  And it hurts.  Deeply.  We can be left feeling despondent and hopeless.

But it doesn't have to be that way.  All that can change when we stop clinging to our own methods for waging war against the enemy, and hand the battle over to God.  Waving our white flags.  Surrendering to His will.  Trusting in His ways.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28

God cares.  He is with us.  He is able, ready and willing to aid us in every battle we face.

God makes is a win-win.  Every time!

Amen!

~

There will be no new post this coming Friday, but I'll be back with you all a week from today.  God bless!

Friday, October 13, 2017

He's Waiting for You


Luke 5:16
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

This week has been a hectic one for me.  I babysit the grands three different days, meet with the young man whom I'm mentoring for his senior project at school, cart my son to work numerous times, and entertain separate visits from Danny's boys, Giovanni and Nicco.  And while none of these activities is unpleasant by any measure, my quiet time has really taken a hit.

You see, it's not enough for me to just have quiet time in the mornings, sipping my coffee and talking to God before anyone else is awake.  While the practice always gets my day off on the right foot, I need multiple intervals of silence throughout the day to keep me focused on and in tune with what the Lord might speak to my heart.

And if I don't get enough of that time?  Watch out!  My usually easy-going, calm self gives way to feelings of agitation, irritability and frustration.  In other words, I'm no fun to be around.

My alone time truly is for everyone's safety.

Jesus modeled this behavior perfectly for us.  Luke says in the verse above that our Lord often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.  Not occasionally, not intermittently, but OFTEN.  And we know how busy Jesus was, day in and day out, healing the sick, preaching the good news of God's kingdom, teaching His disciples and enjoying their company.

Still . . .

Jesus needed His quiet time.  Time to spend in solitude with His Father.  Time to commune, one-on-one, gathering strength and resolve, gleaning wisdom and guidance.

We all need that kind of quiet time.

So I ask you, in the sometimes frenetic pace of your own days, are you seeking out time to slow down and simply be with the Lord?  Allowing Him to nourish and replenish you?  Feeling His love and grace and mercy surround you like a healing balm?

My prayer for you today, my friends, is that you will intentionally withdraw from the world's chaos and demands, and joyfully bask in the presence of God.

He's waiting for you.

Amen!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

You Will Know the Truth


John 8:32
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Today, I've chosen to share an excerpt from my second novel in the Adventures in The Glade series, Redemption.  The scene between eight-year-old Anna, Davy's sister, her mother, Kate, and stepdad, Jim, unfolds shortly after Pastor Mike Russell meets Racer, True Squirrel of the Old Ones, for the first time.  As you read, I hope you will meditate upon what God's truth means for your life.

"It certainly was wonderful having Pastor Mike visit with us," Kate remarked as she placed the remaining cookies into a Ziploc.  "But I do hope he won't tell others about Racer."

Jim chuckled at this.  "Kate, I don't think that young man will breathe a word about a talking squirrel who sings hymns with a heavenly voice.  Who would believe him if he were to tell?"

"I suppose you're right, honey," Kate admitted.  "He wouldn't want the congregation to think he'd gone daft."

Anna, who was sitting at the table, coloring her latest picture, piped up.  "Mom, what does 'daft' mean?"

"It means 'crazy' or 'nutty,' sweetie," she responded casually, and headed over to the sink where the dishes were soaking.

Anna slowly put down her crayon.  Her face donned a pensive expression and her mouth curled into a pout.  As he was sitting close to her, Jim witnessed her unexpected transformation from carefree little girl to one whose shoulders bore the weight of the world.  He allowed for a few minutes to pass before he spoke.  "Penny for your thoughts, Anna," he said kindly, patting her arm soothingly.  When she finally looked up at him, tears were standing in her eyes.

"Do you think Pastor Mike thought I was daft when I told him all about Racer?"  she asked.  Her voice trembled and one tear trickled down her freckled cheeks.

"Not at all," Jim said.  "He saw you as a young lady with an extremely active imagination, and he was right about that."

"But you know I didn't make it up," Anna protested.  "I told him the truth about Racer and the Old Ones.  And he saw Racer for himself!  Why would others not believe him if he told the truth?  Why would they think he was crazy?"

When she heard Anna's worried voice, Kate stopped washing dishes and returned to the table.  Now she tried her best to answer her daughter's questions by asking one.  "Honey, let's face it.  Aside from being here at this farm, this most magical and mystical of places, how many times has an animal spoken to you?"

"Never," Anna admitted ruefully.

"So if Davy had told you he could hear and see the Old Ones, yet none ever appeared to you or talked to you, would you believe him, or would you think he was making it all up?"

Anna hesitated a moment as she mulled over the question before her.  Ever since she could remember, Mom had stressed always telling the truth, even if it hurt because, she insisted, "the truth will set you free."  She recalled the one time when Davy told a whopper about acing a math test he had actually flunked.  When Mom found out about it from the teacher, she was so livid that she grounded Davy for an entire month and took away his television.  Anna was certain Davy had learned his lesson about telling the truth then and there.  She knew how to answer her mother.

"I would believe him," she said firmly.

"You would?"  Jim and Mom asked concurrently.

"Yes," she declared, "because I know Davy doesn't lie.  And I don't think Pastor Mike is a liar, either, do you?"

"Of course not, Anna," Mom said, "but if he were to share his experience with Racer, people might easily conclude that the poor man is a liar.  Surely, sweetie, you understand why ordinary folks would have a hard time believing in such extraordinary creatures.  You do understand, right?"

Anna heaved a sigh.  "No, I don't," she confessed, "not when you know the person telling you is known for telling the truth."

"Miss Priss," Jim began, "it's a sad fact, indeed, but there are some people who wouldn't know the truth if it sat there, big as life, and stared them in the face.  And then, there are those who do see the truth, but choose to turn away from it."

"But if it's the truth, why would they turn away from it?" Anna asked, more confused than ever.

Kate put her arms around her daughter.  "Because," she said, "they imagine the way of truth to be too difficult.  They want to live life on their own terms, not God's.  And that, honey, is a treacherous, dangerous row to hoe."

Amen, Kate!  Amen!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Having a Doggone Good Time!


Psalm 104:24
How many are your works, Lord!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.

Ephesians 4:32
Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

When our oldest granddaughter, Virginia Rose, spends the weekend with us, we are fortunate to have sunny, but cool and breezy, weather.  It's just perfect for spending time outdoors!

"Virginia," I say, "how about riding over to Swift-Cantrell Park so you can play on the playground?"

She regards me quizzically.  "Do you mean the dog park, Gammie?"

I know there is an expansive fenced-in area for dogs to run free and interact with one another, but I'm a bit surprised, after Virginia's way-too-close encounter with an aggressive dog not long ago, that being near a dog would even appeal to her.

"You mean you actually want to go into the dog park?"  I ask.

"Yes, I love the dogs!"  Virginia declares, again to my wonderment, now sprinkled with delight, as I realize she has overcome her fear, and has decided canines are not such bad guys after all.

Virginia has forgiven the trespass. 

That sounds like a plan," I tell her.  "I love dogs, too."




























As I consider the amazing variety of dogs with whom we interact, I can't help but think how God, in His vast and sometimes whimsical wisdom, made them all.  Are there any scuffles among them while we are there?  One or two, but for the most part, as different as these dogs are, they all get along.  They are quick to forgive infractions, more interested in interacting positively with their peers, and grateful for the love the humans lavish upon them.

We would all do well to heed the lessons these pups so endearingly teach us.  And to learn from Virginia Rose's unconditional forgiveness, too.

Amen!

Was I Dreaming of a White Christmas?

1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 There is no need to write you, friends, about the times and occasions when these things will happen.  For you your...