Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Strong and Courageous


Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

If you are a regular follower of Meditations of My Heart, you've been introduced to Stumpy, aka David, in this previous post.  I hope my new readers will take a moment to visit this offering before plunging into this one, but if not, here's a short recap:  Stumpy is a squirrel, who is, sadly, missing most of his tail.  He is rather shy and reclusive; we are fortunate to spot him at all in our yard, let alone get a photo.  And it seems he will visit the ground beneath our sunflower seed-filled bird feeders only when all the other squirrels are napping, so his presence goes unnoticed.  He is, as it were, an outcast, and seems painfully aware of his place in the pecking order in the fiefdom of squirrels.

But when my MIL ventures onto our deck several days ago for some fresh air, she spies Stumpy beneath the bird feeders, seeking seeds like any normal squirrel.  When a full-tailed squirrel decides to vie for his territory, Stumpy doesn't sound the usual retreat as he does in this photo:


Glomming onto the nearest tree trunk, holding Ninja still, he reminds me of the toddler who covers her eyes in front of her family, and declares, "You can't see me!"

No!  This time, Stumpy challenges his would-be bully, not once, but twice, successfully chasing off his potential oppressor!

Where did he get the courage?  The fortitude?  When did he realize that he has the same rights as his long-tailed brothers and sisters to share in the generous feast we provide?

Some questions in life will always go unanswered, won't they?  I'm just so overjoyed to know that Stumpy now stands up for himself, boldly and unequivocally, no longer on the outs with his kind, and confident that he has every right to belong in the niche God has provided.

And you, too, my friends, have every right to belong in your niche - that of a treasured and beloved child of God.  Don't let the enemy tell you otherwise.  When fearful or discouraging thoughts cloud your mind, remember what God has commanded:  Be strong and courageous!

For God is with us, wherever we go.

Amen!
~

Because of upcoming events these next two weeks, I will be taking a break from blogging for the time being.  Should have lots of news and photos to share with you when I return, so stay tuned and enjoy your summer!  Love and blessings!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Heading in the Right Direction


Virginia is ready for a road trip!

Psalm 119:59-60
I thought about the wrong direction in which I was headed, and turned around and came running back to you.

Late last year, while MIL is still doing well and living in her own home, Danny and make the trek together to Oxford to pay my mother a long-overdue, overnight stay.  We agree to avoid the interstate at all costs, even though it means the trek will take longer, about an hour and a half longer than if we opt for the other take-your-life-in-your-hands route.

We arrive relaxed and rested, instead of tense and stressed.  What could be better than that?  Still, Danny has a hunch that there could be an even shorter way to drive home.  Smart phone in hand, he peruses Google maps for possible paths to try.

When I see him beaming, I know at once Danny has struck gold.  "It's fairly convoluted," he admits, "but I'm positive this way I've discovered will cut down on both time and miles for us."

Of course, I'm delighted, and can't wait to see what unfolds on this new journey.  After all, I think, how complicated can it really be?  Well, for this directionally-challenged woman, who barely understands how to use maps on my cell phone, I am definitely propelled way beyond my cognitive comfort zone.

This turns out, indeed, to be a pleasantly rural, and for the most part, intersection-fee ride, but I find myself thanking the Lord repeatedly that Danny's phone speaks the directions to him loud and clear.  All the twists and turns, the changes in road names, even though they continue straight on, only serve to confound and confuse me.

And when if comes to driving this route with granddaughter, Virginia Rose, I'm a bundle of nerves.  I don't trust my phone to work as it should, so Danny prints out written instructions for me.  I can't tell you how many times I read and reread them before taking off.

Still, I'm feeling some trepidation, especially since I have such precious cargo on board with me.

I hate to confess this, but even with the printed instructions, I miss a turn here and there.  (Yes, it's okay to laugh at this juncture.)  But I pull over, consult the route once again, and correct my course, not without offering a prayer, or two, or three, for the guidance I need to reach my destination.

And reach it, we finally, and with great relief, do.

I don't know about you, but there is nothing more discombobulating to me than to be lost, heading in the wrong direction, not sure of the landmarks I need to note or how many miles to travel before expecting the next bend in the road.  But I do know, for sure and certain, that when the vagaries of life coax me down the wayward path, the wrong direction, I can always rely on God's faithful map to bring me home:  the Bible.

His Word turns me around, and has me running, full tilt, back to Him.

And it can do the same for you.

For no matter how lost we may feel in the moment, God will always show us, lovingly and eagerly, the right direction for our lives.

Amen!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Good and Faithful Servant


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 in your master's happiness!'"

This past Memorial Day weekend, granddaughter, Virginia Rose, and I return to Oxford for another visit with my mother.  My brother, Bill, informs me a week earlier that the American flags we placed a while back at our father's grave site have disappeared.  So I resolve to purchase new ones, so that Virginia and I can decorate the headstone in honor of Dad's service to this country many years ago.

While not old enough to enlist in WWII, the moment Dad turns 18, he eagerly signs up for the U. S. Army, and serves several tours of duty in post-war Germany.  It is the godsend of the G. I. Bill that affords Dad the opportunity for a college education, something he never dared dream about.

Dad earns a bachelor's degree and a Ph.D. in botany, teaches at Emory University for thirty years, is appointed as the Dean of Emory's Oxford College in 1988, where he remains until retiring in 1990.  But with such a stellar career, Dad always asserts that his service to our great country is responsible, in large part, for every success in his life.  And he taught us all to stand up proudly for the land of the free and the home of the brave.










Well done, Dad!  Thank you for your good and faithful service to so many during your lifetime.  We love you, and we will always remember.



Amen!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Rules and Regs


Matthew 28:23
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You give a tenth of your spices - mint, dill and cumin.  But you have neglected the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy and faithfulness.  You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

Last week, I open up my Blogger home page to an unexpected announcement from parent, Google.  Rules and regulations have invaded the blogosphere!!!  And I'd best comply.

Now, I do understand the inherent merit of this move; precautions must be taken to secure the privacy of email addresses, and assure subscribers that their information will not be compromised in any way, shape or form.  But Racer and I have a question:  Would you have even subscribed to Meditations of My Heart if you had the least inkling that your personal information would be jeopardized?

We think not!

However, just to make everything crystal clear per Google's instructions, we assure you of the following:


  • We will follow the guidelines of the GDPR (General Data Processing Regulation) as set forth by the EU.  This means that if you are a European subscriber to this blog, I will inform you if I ever collect any info from you, which I never intend to do.
  • Email addresses are for the sole purpose of receiving this blog to which you are subscribed, no matter what side of the pond you live on.
  • We promote nothing on this site except for The Glade Series and Adventures in The Glade; we are advertisement free.
  • We will never, ever sell your email addresses, or share with others without your explicit permission.
Okay, Google, how did I do?

Somehow, I feel like this offering is my mint, dill and cumin, not my justice, mercy and faithfulness.  Because if you follow Jesus as I do, rules and regulations aren't necessary.

As St. Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22-24:  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such thing there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Against such things there is no law . . .

But Jesus also tells us to practice the latter, without neglecting the former; the latter should spring forth from the former when one is devoted to the Lord.

Because once we become Christians, rules and regulations don't have to be spelled out.

They are lived out.

Amen!


Friday, May 25, 2018

And the "Hen Award" Goes To . . .


Matthew 23:37
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

Our granddaughter, Virginia Rose, recently celebrates Awards Day with her fellow second grade classmates.  As you can tell by these photos, this is on exciting time for her!







Refreshments add to the festive atmosphere, and Virginia, as always, ends up wearing a bit of what she's eaten.





Virginia's teacher, Ms. R., has created a marvelous slideshow featuring photos of her class from year's beginning to end.  Of course, all the students are enthralled.



Every student receives a Certificate of Participation, par for the course in this day and age, but it does allow parents and grandparents a fantastic photo-op.







Ms. R. also gives two folders to each of her students, documenting their best work throughout the year.  How thoughtful and caring of her!  A priceless keepsake, and a wonderful way to allow the children to see how far they have come in just one school year.





But of all the accolades of the day, Virginia and I are proudest of this one:





Taking care of her friends . . .

Wow!

And this award suits Virginia to a "T."  She is always reaching out to others, making friends out of strangers, caring for others' feelings, willing to lend an ear or a comforting hug to anyone in need.

Jesus longs to do the same.

Are you willing to let Him?

Amen!


~

It's Memorial Day weekend, and the official arrival of summer break for Virginia, so she and I are heading to my mother's home in Oxford for several days.  I do so treasure your comments on my blog, my friends, but my response will be delayed due to being out of town.  Never fear!  I will get back to you just as soon as possible.  Blessings for a safe and happy weekend, and may we remember to pray and give thanks for all the men and women who died in service to our country.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Listen!


Jeremiah 30:2
"This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says:  'Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you.'"

I'm also convinced that listening to God is not unlike writing:  if I were to wait to write until inspiration struck, I would write practically nothing.  But if I chain myself to my desk every morning at 8:00 a. m. and start typing something - anything - inspiration has a way of unexpectedly pulling up a chair.  ~Adam S. McHugh, The Listening Life

I am fortunate to be a part of an online book club hosted by friend and fellow blogger, Linda Stoll.  Our latest read, The Listening Life, by Adam S. McHugh, has proved to be nothing less than sensational; it has given me an entirely new perspective about how I'm listening, or shamefully, not listening to those around me.  It's not your typical okay-I've-read-this-let's-move-on inspirational book.  No!  It's one I'll return to time and time again to review and assess the ways in which I'm practicing the art of listening well, not only to people, but to God Himself.

While I've highlighted many memorable passages in The Listening Life, the one quoted above grabs my attention faster than flashing blue lights in my rear view mirror.  It reflects the countless hours when God's Holy Spirit pulls up a chair next to me as I write my novels.  Am I instantly aware of His presence?  No, not at first, but as the days and weeks roll by, and the stories begin to unfold, I find myself rereading the words penned, and wondering, not without a profound sense of awe:  "Where did that come from?"

It is then, in a lightning strike of revelation, I know.  Beyond any doubt, beyond any dismissal, I know!  I am simultaneously humbled and elated; so breathlessly excited that I look forward to the next round of writing with ecstatic anticipation.  The minute I "chain" myself to the computer, I offer this invitation:  "Lord, what would you have me write today?"  And God never lets me down.

And I realize, in reading McHugh's work, that what I am engaged with in my writing is a profound submission to God's will.  I'm listening to Him on the deepest possible level without even being conscious of it.  I am surrendering my gifts to Him that He might use them to further His kingdom and His glory.  What could be better than that?

NOTHING!

And friends, all of you reading this have God-given gifts.  Maybe you are blessed to know what they are, or perhaps, you're still waiting to discover them.  I have one word of advice:  Listen!

Sit quietly with the Lord.  Let Him speak to your heart.  Allow Him to reveal Himself to you with an intimacy unlike any other.  Humble yourself.  Submit.

Become one with Him.

Listen!

Amen!


Friday, May 18, 2018

Enlist!

Joel 2:7
They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers.  They all march in line, not swerving from their course.

Danny's oldest son, Giovanni, recently makes a life-changing decision, one that has us bursting with pride.  He enlists in the U. S. Air Force!  As I write this, Giovanni is in Week 3 of basic training, and is slated to graduate on June 14th.  Then it's off to Air Force school for another four months, where he will learn the skills required to become an avionics technician.

When Giovanni graduates from high school several years ago, with no desire to go to college, but with four years of Jr. ROTC under his belt, Danny and I think he might join the military right away.  Looking back, though, we realize that he had neither the confidence nor the maturity to make such a choice.  Giovanni lives with us for quite some time, working different jobs and helping with some bills.  During these years, he develops a keen interest in guns, and takes part in many air-soft military mock-up events.  Here are a few photos from some of those occasions.







He certainly looks the part of a soldier, doesn't he?  All well and good, but now, it's the full meal deal!  We follow the weeks of basic training at this official Air Force website.  It's gratifying to get a glimpse into what Giovanni's life is like now.

What I deem most compelling in these videos is the fact that these soldiers in training, from all races, backgrounds and experiences, learn to work together, to watch each other's backs, and to march in line, not swerving from their course.  

I find myself reflecting, as I see the determined efforts of these brave men and women, on if we as Christians, no matter our denominations, would stand together, work together, for the Good News of God's kingdom, what a phenomenal difference we could make!  Just as these young soldiers come to realize that they are part of something much bigger than themselves, we, too, are part of the biggest fighting force ever, assembled in the name of Christ Jesus, and led by our God of the Angel Armies.

I'm ready to enlist!  Who's with me?

Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you've done everything, to stand. ~Ephesians 6:13

Prayers for Giovanni and his fellow soldiers who have voluntarily chosen to serve and defend our great nation are very much appreciated!

Amen!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Sweet Tooth!


Psalm 119:103
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

In her most recent visit with us, granddaughter, Virginia Rose, decides to don her Amazing Chef apron once again so we can make frozen chocolate-banana pops.  Yes, we've made these before, and Virginia, who asks me which one of her teeth is the "sweet" one, savors this treat, which is both healthy and indulgent at the same time.




She peruses the recipe card and retrieves the utensils we need.



I get out the chocolate chips and olive oil for the gooey coating.



Virginia peels and slices the bananas, and inserts each with a popsicle stick.



We then pop these babies into the freezer for thirty minutes.  About five minutes before they're due to reappear, we get busy with the chocolate mixture.  Virginia measures the chips, not without sampling a few!







Adds the tablespoon of olive oil,





and it's ready to go into the microwave for easy melting.  Once done, Virginia stirs the mixture until smooth, and dips each banana carefully, coating them as best she can.









And it's back into the freezer again to solidify the chocolate.  And though she has to wait two hours for that to happen, Virginia is rewarded for her efforts and patience.





Sweeter than honey?  You bet!

But even sweeter is the Word of God.  One day, Virginia will grasp that eternal truth and, I pray, will choose to live by God's "sweeter than honey" commandments.

May we all do the same.

Amen!


Friday, May 11, 2018

Shout for Joy!


Our respite in the mountains tells so many stories of the wonders of God's creation.  His Word far outweighs any commentary I can possibly write.  So let these verses from the Bible inspire you, and enhance the photos from our glorious time of recreation and renewal spent with one another and with the Lord.  My prayer is that you will be moved to shout for joy at God's marvelous works.

Isaiah 49:13
Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth;
burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.





Isaiah 45:12
It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it.
My own hands stretched out the heavens;
I marshaled their starry hosts.




Isaiah 60:20
Your sun shall never set; the moon shall not go down - 
for the Lord will be your everlasting light;
your days of mourning all will end.






John 14:2
My Father's house has many rooms;
if that were not so, would I have told you that
I am going there to prepare a place for you?





Psalm 1:3
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither - 
whatever they do prospers.




Matthew 6:26
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap
or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?








Genesis 1:18b
And God saw that it was good.

Amen!

Strong and Courageous

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be ...