Friday, December 14, 2018

Sunset Falls - Part Two


Psalm 111:2-4
Great are the works of the Lord;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and compassionate.

My husband, Danny, takes some absolutely breathtaking photos during our stay at Sunset Falls this past week, and I'm thrilled to be able to share some of them with you here.  So, with the Psalms as our companions, let's sit back, relax and marvel in God's glorious creation!

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory in the heavens. ~Psalm 8:1

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. ~Psalm 19:1





Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me - 
a prayer to the God of my life. ~Psalm 42:7-8




The Mighty One, God, the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to where it sets.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.
Our God comes
and will not be silent;
a fire devours before him,
and around him a tempest rages. ~Psalm 50:1-3





Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven. ~Psalm 85:11



Fire goes before him
and consumes his foes on every side.
His lightning lights up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all the peoples see his glory. ~Psalm 97:3-6
May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works -
he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke. ~Psalm 104:31-32





I 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


My dear friends, my prayer for you today is that these scriptures and photos bless you deeply, and bind you in a closer relationship with our heavenly Father, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Amen!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Sunset Falls - Part One


John 3:30
He must become greater; I must become less.

Sunset Falls, featured above, is unlike any cabin in which Danny and I have stayed over the years.  When I first view the photos of it on the rental company's website, I'm not at all convinced it will be one I'll enjoy.  After all, I'm used to traditional, log-cabin rustic:  wood floors and paneling; wildlife decor on walls and stone hearths; tree-trunk sized beams in the ceilings; cushy couches and arm chairs, and mountain-themed knick-knacks on tables and dressers.

But I'm so thrilled for this chance to get away with Danny!  So I decide early on to simply make the most of it.  What a surprise it is to discover that Sunset Falls makes the most of me!

Spartan, spare and streamlined, with copious windows inviting plenty of daylight, this cabin appeals to our senses without overwhelming them.  The white walls and bedding contrast starkly with the jet-black trim on doors and windows, lending a crisp, clean feel to the atmosphere.  Combine this with touches of grey, splashes of muted blue, and strategically placed wood accents, such as wood floors only in the bedrooms, and the result is satisfactorily appealing.






At Sunset Falls, there is no clutter to distract us from the true star of the show:  the spectacular view!





~

John the Baptist's mission was clear.  He was to prepare people for the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, by calling them to repent and be baptized, cleansed and ready to receive the One who would bring salvation to the world.  John knew he was a vitally important part of God's plan, but understood full well that he was not the star of the show.

More than a bit player, to be sure.

But not the leading man.

That role, forever and always, will belong to Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  May we, like John, become less so that Jesus can become more in our lives.

Amen!

Friday, November 30, 2018

She's Done Good!


Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

As many of you already know, my husband, Danny, and I live in a home nestled in the forest.  We love the shade the trees provide in the hot, steamy summers here in Georgia.  And because it is so dim under the dense, leafy canopy, grass won't grow, but moss thrives in abundance, thick and lush all over our yard.  No need for a lawn mower, or breaking a sweat during the long summer months.  That is a huge plus, as neither of us willingly tolerates the heat.

Autumn, however, is another story.  As the temperatures cool, the leaves take their cue, and descend with wild abandon.  It doesn't take long for our decks and yard to become covered and smothered, requiring frequent visits from the broom and the leaf blower.

When granddaughter, Virginia Rose, stays with us last weekend, she doesn't see sweeping leaves off the deck as a chore, but as an opportunity to help out her Gammie.  Watching her, I feel a bit like Tom Sawyer, bamboozling his friends into whitewashing Aunt Polly's fence as he lolls about.

"Honey, you don't have to do this," I say.  "Gammie can take care of it."

"I know," Virginia responds, "but I want to help.  I can do this!"

And yes, she can!






As they say in the South, "She's done good!"

Virginia, now eight-years-old, never seems to grow weary of doing good.  She wants to help in all the household tasks her little hands can manage, from setting the table, to taking her dirty dishes to the sink and rinsing them, to wielding our feather duster over the furniture.

While there are times I find myself wishing she wouldn't grow up so fast, it is a delight to witness her increasing abilities, both physical and mental.  What pleases me most, though, is Virginia's desire to assist others in any and all ways that she can.

My prayer for her is that she continues to grow in her knowledge and love of God, and that she never tires of doing good for others.

Amen!

I know, I know, I just took a break at Thanksgiving, but I'm having to take one again this coming week.  Danny and I are headed for the mountains!!!  We are so thankful that his brother will be arriving on Saturday to look after MIL while we are gone.  When we are on these infrequent vacations, I like to go as "dark" as possible when it comes to technology, so I may not be leaving comments on your blogs, but know you will definitely be in my thoughts and prayers.  God bless!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

I Appreciate It!


Matthew 22:36-40
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus replied:  "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  'Love your neighbor as yourself.'  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Before we go any farther, I want to lay something on you; it's not heavy and it's not to imply that you don't already do it.  It's just a reminder to all of us.
The next chance you get, do something nice for somebody - say 'good day,' hold a door open - and don't wait around for a thank you; you don't need it.  And because of you, that person will go out and do something nice for somebody, and then that person will go out and do something nice for someone else, and the whole world can wind up doing nice things for each other and we can be the ones that start it.
It takes all of us working together to get things done - no one does it alone.  Only One did and I'm not that strong.  Let's start it - here's to love - it's still the best! ~Roy Clark

Only One . . .

Just recently, we learn of the passing of country music legend and entertainer, Roy Clark.  I'm of the generation who grew up on Hee-Haw, loving Roy, Buck Owens, and the rest of the entertaining regulars and guests.  The clean and corny jokes made me laugh, and the music never failed to be inspiring and uplifting.  So hearing of Clark's passing saddens me, but also strengthen my belief that the Lord is faithful to take His intrepid servants home.

My husband, Danny, loves to recount the stories of the times he was on the restaurant/lounge circuit as a solo musician.  One of his most memorable is when a roadie for Roy Clark approaches Danny in the lounge where he is headlining, and asking, of all things, if he can borrow Danny's acoustic guitar for Roy's gig down the block.  Without giving it a second thought, Danny volunteers his newly purchased Martin, out of what he now chalks up to naivete.  The man's business card and demeanor seem trustworthy enough at the time.  And a hopeful and upcoming star in the world of music, who would dare say, "No," to a country music legend?

And it turns out to be better than best.  By the end of Danny's set, here comes the roadie, guitar in hand and in as pristine a shape as it was trustingly given, accompanied by a brief, handwritten note from Roy.  Unfortunately, Danny cannot recall where he's stashed this precious missive, be he remembers what it stated:  "I appreciate it!" ~Roy

Mr. Clark was a big-time star.  He didn't need to offer any words of thanks, yet he did to this young upstart who just happened to have the guitar his crew either failed to bring to this gig, or didn't realize its importance to Roy's performance that particular evening.

Those three simple words, "I appreciate it!", make Danny's day then, and resonate in his heart all these years later.  

Roy may have stated in the quote above that we not wait around for a thank you, but there is always room for us to give one, even for the smallest of thoughtful gestures shown to us.  And I believe the need for thanks expressed, and kindness shown, is greater than ever in this world so far removed from the innocent days of Hee-Haw.  

For as Roy notes, when we offer kindness and thanks to others, "then that person will go out and do something nice for someone else . . . here's to love - it's still the best!"

And I think that would make Jesus rejoice.

Amen!




Friday, November 16, 2018

Moving Mountains

Matthew 17:20
He replied, "Because you have so little faith.  Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.

I'm a big fan of oatmeal, especially in the fall and winter months when a constant chill is in the air.  There's nothing more comforting and filling than a steaming bowl of wholegrain goodness for breakfast.

So when I note we're running low on this staple, my husband, Danny, adds oatmeal to his grocery list before heading out to our neighborhood Aldi.  This is their brand, and I'm eager to try it.


I scan the side of the container for directions, expecting to find the usual Quaker Oats ratio for one serving of oatmeal - 1 cup water to half cup oats.  What's this?  One cup of water to a quarter cup of oats?  This can't possibly be right!  And it takes 30 minutes to cook instead of five???  Okay, now I have to investigate.

I open the lid, and this is what greets me.


Teeny tiny oat pellets in the husk!  I've never seen anything like this in my life.  The 30 minute cooking time now makes complete sense to me, but the amount of water called for leaves room for doubt.  How can just one cup of water adequately plump up these little guys?

Turns out, I'm right, and the directions are wrong.  After some experimentation, I discover it takes one and one-half cups of water when all is said and done.


So begins the 30 minutes of watching, stirring and waiting . . .



And the finished product?  Perfect, both in texture and in taste.


~

When I view these oats for the first time, they remind of of Jesus' story of the mustard seed.  Minuscule and insignificant, it seems impossible that they can ever be transformed into anything palatable.  Yet, add the right amount boiling water and time, and voila!

Yes, we may start out small in our faith, but we don't have to stay that way.

Because when we trust in Jesus, submitting our wills completely to Him, He can grow our faith exponentially, in ways we never could have imagined.

And one day, with the Lord's help, I believe we will move mountains.

Amen!

Friends, since next week is Thanksgiving break, I am taking a break from the blog.  May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving Day filled with food, fun and family, and I will see you in the following week!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is


Matthew 6:19-20
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."

In many churches throughout the country, November is the month designated for the annual stewardship campaign.  Members are asked to prayerfully consider the amount of money they will contribute to the church in the coming year, and to sign up to use their gifts and talents in different ministries offered by the church to the community.

After long, interminable weeks of monetary solicitations from various political campaigns via email and texts, I have to admit that being asked, once again, for money is at the bottom of my priority list.  But Pastor Graham's excellent sermon this past Sunday puts everything in the correct perspective.

He begins by stating what we all feel - it's a relief to have the elections behind us (well, sort of, unless you live in Georgia or Florida, but don't get me started), and goes on to give us the exorbitant amounts raised by some of the campaigns.  As I hadn't paid too much attention to this, I am shocked when I hear of one candidate, who will remain nameless, raised over $70 million, and still lost the race.  And the two gubernatorial candidates, right here in our home state of Georgia, raised over $60 million between them.

Stunning, overwhelming, unimaginable amounts of cash.  Pastor Graham explains why:  People will give where their hope is.

Let that sink in for a moment . . .

We, as Christians, declare we place our hope in Jesus.  But do we?  How committed are we to the campaign for God's Kingdom?  How generously do we give of our financial resources, our time, our talents, to serve others in need?  Are we storing up treasures here on earth, or are our treasures found in heaven?

It's all too easy to be a Sunday Christian, sitting placidly each week in a pew, comfortably on the receiving end of the message.  It's much more difficult to take up the cross of Jesus, denying ourselves in order to follow Him.

So this time around, I've decided to put my money where my mouth is.  I'm not leaving our pledge up to my husband, Danny, as I have in the past, but will make a financial commitment of my own.  After all, if I proclaim Jesus as my Lord and Savior, my one true Hope, I have to follow through with some meaningful and make-a-difference fund-raising.

And proudly campaign for the spread of His Kingdom.

Amen!

Friday, November 9, 2018

I Will Raise Up For Them a Prophet


Deuteronomy 18:18
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth.  He will tell them everything I command him.

It is always a deliciously refreshing experience to bury myself in a compelling, engaging story, where characters jump off the page to sit next to you like a best friend, and the plot thickens with unexpected twists and turns.  And that is precisely what happens when I have the privilege of reading Book Four in Glynn Young's Dancing Priest Series, Dancing Prophet.  Although Young masterfully crafts this novel as a stand-alone read, I can't urge you enough to order the first three that you can find at Young's blogger page, Faith, Fiction, Friends.

Once more, we are ushered into the lives of a young King Michael of Britain, his American-born Queen Sarah (Was Glynn somehow predicting the recent wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle?), their two adopted boys, Jason and Jim, and their toddler son, Henry, as they adapt to their new lives of royalty.  In spite of all the routine demands that come with the territory of being a country's sovereign, King Michael, and ordained Church of England priest, finds himself facing some overwhelming and horrific odds, as being Head of the Church places him in an unexpected and heinous scandal that, if not properly addressed, could mean the complete destruction of Britain's religious institution.

It is the courage of one young man, Robert, emboldened by the compassion he feels from his school's prayer group, which starts the shocking ball rolling.  It's a confession no one wants to hear, nor do they want to believe.  But Jason, taken in off the streets by Michael and Sarah, knows all too well about Robert's heartbreaking situation, and stands up for him.

Robert has endured repeated sexual abuse at the hands of an Anglican priest.

The cat, a most evil and sinister one, is finally out of the bag.  Robert's admission, Jason's confiding at last in Michael and Sarah about his own abuse, and another young man, Elton, coming forward as having had been the victim of unwanted advances by his priest, reveal not only the rampant and willful exploitation of boys that exists in the world, but now focuses on the abhorrent activities going on within the church, a network that has thus far been successfully hushed up by the ecclesiastic powers that be.

When King Michael took the throne of Britain, one of his aims was to reform the Church of England.  This was not greeted warmly by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and others in his camp.  And as Dancing Prophet unfolds, their worst nightmares are about to come true.

A theme Young repeats in all his novels is that God puts people in places and situations where He knows they are exactly right for the task at hand.  King Michael is no exception.  Neither are those with whom he has surrounded himself.  No, I'm not going to tell you how the story ends because you absolutely must read it for yourself!

And on one more note regarding prophetic premonitions, Young wrote this manuscript long before the Catholic Church child abuse scandal became front page news.  Wow!  No doubt about it, God's Holy Spirit is alive and well in this most talented author.

My recommendation to you is to give yourself, and your loved ones, an early Christmas gift.  Order all four of Young's incredible novels today!

Amen!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Mr. Lyft


1 Peter 3:15-16
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Yes!  Here we are at long last - the much anticipated midterm elections have arrived!  And I do hope, if you haven't yet voted, that you will do so before the day is out.  As Christians, I believe we have a civic duty to cast ballots for those individuals who will best uphold our morals and values.

My husband, Danny, and I decide not to wait for this final opportunity, but choose to vote early, last Wednesday to be precise.  When we arrive at the early voting venue, we are surprised, in light of this being a midterm, at just how long the line is.  Should we stay and vote now?  Should we go home and wait until Tuesday?  We debate momentarily, but then determine to take the plunge.  After all, this is the one day of the week when my son, Daniel, is committed to look after MIL, and we know she is in good and trustworthy hands.

As often happens when one is "trapped" in a long line of people, someone adjacent to you is guaranteed to strike up a conversation, whether it's solicited or not.  And that's exactly what the man behind us does.  We hear more than we ever want to about his Lyft driving misadventures, his personal disabilities and financial woes.  All this punctuated all to frequently by salty language, which makes us think this guy's idea of appropriate boundaries is imaginary lines.

But we listen.  We respond as graciously as possible.  And we pray for patience.  It's one thing to have to endure an hour's wait before casting our vote, but this?  Dear Lord, help us!

Then out of the blue, the hammer drops.

"I visited a church a while back, and the first thing they wanted to know was, 'Are you a Christian?'  What kind of question is that?  I don't even know these people!"

Okay, Lord, what's going on here?  I have the opportunity to offer hope and promise, and I'm practically tongue-tied.  What can I say to convince this stranger that he shouldn't be put off by this, that Christianity is worth another try?

"When I describe my faith," he continues, "I'm more of a Taoist/Buddhist.  It's a tolerance thing, you know?  And I don't believe in Hell at all."

Still feeling ambushed, not at all prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks, I feel God nudging me to try, with His help.

"Jesus speaks about Hell in the Bible," I begin.  "It's a real place that we choose when we choose to live separated from God.  He's given you free will to embrace Him or ignore Him.  And as far as tolerance goes, Christianity hinges on these two commandments:  Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.  What's intolerant about that?"

For once, "Mr. Lyft," as I've begun to think of him, has no rejoinder.

And in retrospect, I should have followed up my commentary with a simple, "God made you, and He loves you."

I didn't.

I regret that.

But now I find myself praying for Mr. Lyft, and so many lost souls like him in this world.  Maybe, just maybe, I did plant a small seed of hope in his heart.  And maybe the Lord will choose to water that tiny seed, and new life will spring forth.

Praying.

And I wonder . . .

Who did Mr. Lyft vote for?

Amen!


Friday, November 2, 2018

Tie One On!


James 1:4
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

When our oldest granddaughter, Virginia Rose, spends this past weekend with us, I've promised to take her shopping for long-sleeve shirts (she is growing like a weed!) and a new pair of shoes.  There is a Payless Shoe Source en route from her home to ours, so I swing into the parking lot on Friday afternoon, and we hit the store.

The helpful and friendly clerk measures Virginia's foot, as I'm sure that has grown at least a half size since our previous purchase.  Sure enough!  She's gone from a 12 and a half to a 13.  The clerk's recommendation is to buy a shoe a half size larger, so that's the section we focus on.

But there is one problem.

Up until this point, Virginia has been able to get away with wearing shoes with Velcro straps.  Not anymore!  The only pairs available in the "big girl" category have shoelaces.  And Virginia has never learned to tie a shoe!

"Well, Virginia," I say, "it looks like Gammie and Papa will be giving you some lessons in how to tie a bow this weekend, won't we?"

"I want to learn, Gammie," she says happily, as her hands reach for the turquoise sneakers pictured above.  "All the the kids in my class wear tie shoes."

That doesn't surprise me.  You see, although Virginia is in third grade, she is a very young eight, having a birthday on July 21st, and beginning school the first of August.  So naturally, she is smaller than most of her peers, who would have had to submit to lace-up shoes months, and possibly a year, before.

When we arrive at our house, Virginia can't wait to show off her new footwear to Papa and MIL, and it isn't long before she makes the first struggling attempts to tie her shoes as we've demonstrated to her.




We encourage her to keep at it, acknowledging that it takes patience and practice to get the hang of this task that so many of us have done for so long, we take it for granted.

On Saturday, Danny aka Papa, and I decide she needs a further tutorial, hoping that this repetitive exercise will boost her confidence.






And after many failed attempts, at long last, her first bow!  Virginia's perseverance pays off big time!

She is all smiles at her accomplishment, as well she should be.  Virginia no longer has to feel like the odd-kid-out at school.  She has finally attained a maturity appropriate for her age, and as far as she is concerned, she isn't lacking a single thing.

May we all continue to persevere faithfully until we attain the goals God has set before us.

Amen!

Sunset Falls - Part Two

Psalm 111:2-4 Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and...