Friday, October 19, 2018

Standing Up to the Test


James 1:12
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
James 4:5-6;10
Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?  But he gives us more grace.  That is why Scripture says, "God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Down here in the South, we're crazy about our college football.  Georgia is no exception, and though there are faithful fans of Georgia Tech, my husband, Danny's, alma mater, overwhelmingly, our population roots for the University of Georgia Bulldogs.  They affectionately refer to themselves as the "Dawg Nation."  And with this season's first six football games being won by huge margins, fans are, well, fanatic about winning!  Visions of a championship for Georgia are most definitely dancing in their heads in light of this powerhouse team.

It's no wonder, then, that last Saturday, hopes are running high as the Dawgs take on LSU at Tiger Stadium.  Surely, Georgia will stomp the Tigers just as easily as they've conquered their previous opponents.

But the Tigers are having none of it.  Putting the Dawgs to the test, the team comes out roaring and clawing, and when the smoke finally clears, it is anything but good news for Georgia.  David has whooped Goliath 36-16.

Mega-ouch!!!

I'm sure the Georgia players are still wondering what hit them.  And humble pie has probably been on the menu this entire week as they pick themselves up, brush themselves off, and prepare to meet their arch rival, the Florida Gators, in tomorrow's game at Jacksonville.

Losing never feels good nor right.  Yet, perhaps, the Dawgs had become a bit puffed up with pride at their record wins.  Maybe having been taken down a notch will turn out to be a good thing in the long run for them.  If they persevere through this trial, taking a long, hard look at their attitudes and abilities, changing in ways that help the entire team work better together, it can only bring blessings upon them.

And as much as I hate to admit it, it's been in times of adversity and loss, when I have humbled myself before the Lord, and asked for the help only He can give, that I've learned the most about who I am as His child.  I'm sure you, too, can cite many examples in your own lives that reflect this very same experience.

Standing up to the test . . .

Is it pleasant?  No.  Is it easy?  No.

But it is necessary.  Because it is in the hard and difficult moments that God's grace can brim to overflowing, filling our hearts and minds with conviction that we can overcome, and be made better versions of the persons He created us to be.

So we will see tomorrow if the Dawgs have humbled themselves before the Lord, so that He might lift them up.

Amen, and Go, Dawgs!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Inviting You to "Uninvited"


Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Back in March of this year, I have the honor and privilege of reading and reviewing Beckie Lindsey's first book, Secrets, in her Beauties from Ashes series.  You can read that post here.  So when Beckie announces the release of Book Two, Uninvited, in this amazing series, I can't wait to get my hands and my eyeballs on it!  My original intention is to read it slowly and simply savor each meaningful and thoughtfully crafted word Beckie writes as I reacquaint myself with her endearing and enduring characters.

Epic fail!

I can't put it down!!!  I'm instantly drawn back into the tumultuous and struggling lives of the four female protagonists, Mackenzie, Krystal, Tammi, and Sadie, as they attempt to face and overcome their individual demons of suicide, bulimia, and sexual abuse.  No, certainly not topics for dinner conversations, but definitely ills of our society, ills that leave victims feeling confused, unsure and unworthy of love.  God's love.

I, for one, am glad that Beckie has the fortitude to breach these issues, to bring them to light in such an empathetic and personal way through her characters, and to champion the power of Jesus to change hearts and transform lives.  Yes, some of the girls continue to wrestle with the concept of God's unconditional love, but don't we all at some point on our Christian journey?

And then there is the added dimension of the spiritual forces of evil wrangling for the hearts, minds and souls of these girls, determined to win them away from the only One who can save them.  As each girl strives to understand and to rely on the promises of God, the demons work even harder to squash their new-found freedoms and self-awareness.  Uninvited guests, to be sure.  Yet, the angels of light continue to counteract Satan's efforts, knowing their charges embody the potential to strengthen and promote God's kingdom in this world.

With Christmas right around the corner, now would be a most excellent time to order both Secrets and Uninvited for both yourself and that special young adult in your life.  You will love these novels as much as I do, and you will be inspired, guaranteed!

~
Meet Beckie Lindsey

Beckie is a wife and mother of three adult children and two adorable cats.  She is thoroughly content with a piece of dark chocolate, a cup of coffee, and a great book.  She loves to encourage others to not only know the truths of the Bible, but to experience them personally and practically in everyday life.  In addition to being an author and blogger, Beckie is the editor for SoCal Christian Voice.  You can connect with Beckie at her websiteTwitterInstagram, and Facebook

Friday, October 12, 2018

We're Off to See the Lizard!


Genesis 1:25
God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds.  And God saw that it was good.

It's October here in Georgia, but you wouldn't know it from the Indian Summer temperatures.  Although it's predicted that we will finally see a break in these by the end of this week, this past weekend when granddaughter, Virginia Rose, and I spend time with my Mom down in Oxford, Georgia, it is nothing but oppressive, sweltering heat.

We may not enjoy the sultry atmosphere, but there is one creature that thrives in it:  The Green Anole lizard.



These particular inhabitants often slip through cracks in the floor of Mom's screened in porch to scurry and explore the human environs for a change of pace, never imagining that small, inquisitive hands could or would become intent upon catching them.

"A lizard, Gammie!"  Virginia squeals excitedly.  "There's a lizard out here!  Oh, wait, I see another one!"

Virginia is off and running, but so are the lizards.  Ironically, when I stay with Mom for ten days in August, I never spot a one.  Now they appear with frequency, bordering, in my mind, on the miraculous; a delightful gift for my granddaughter.  Virginia is transfixed by the lizards and determined to capture one.  While I have absolutely no inclination to place my hands on these wiggly, flighty reptiles, Virginia does, following in the footsteps of her mother, Sarah, who used to engage in this very same pursuit many years ago.

No, she's not using the end of the broom stick to hurt the lizard, but to flush it out of hiding.  




There are some lingering spider webs on Mom's porch, something Virginia is loathe to touch, and I can't blame her.  I am leery, too!

Sometimes, the lizards run high up on the screen and out of reach.  Other times, they dart down through the openings in the porch floors, or hide behind the cross beams.  Still, Virginia doesn't give up hope that she can grab one at last.



Sadly, when she does finally seize one, I'm inside the house without my phone camera at the ready.  But I'm so glad Virginia realizes her dream, lets the lizard go free, and is pumped up for the next pursuit.

The next challenge to surmount.

The next achievement.

The lessons I learn from Virginia's hope, faith and perseverance in her desire to come into personal contact with God's "least of these" are profound.  I need not fear a challenge, I should welcome it.  If I'm striving, in God's will, to achieve, I know my attempts will be blessed, and that He will provide the strength and fortitude to see it through.  And my dreams?  God honors every one when my will is submitted to His.

Powerful lessons that all of us would be wise to take to heart.


Amen!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

They Put the "Happy" in Happy Meal


Proverbs 12:25
Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Honestly, I can't imagine the fortitude and dedication it takes to maintain a job as a fast food employee.  In most cases, they are overworked, underpaid, and most defeating of all, underappreciated.  I have always been so thankful for these folks, as I spent many years working in the restaurant business, and sympathize with the stress that accompanies this service industry.

What happens to and for me a week ago Monday is reason to celebrate these dedicated people.  I pull up to the McDonald's closest to my granddaughter, Virginia Rose's, school at 10:45.  Her scheduled lunch time is 11:02, and I have promised a Happy Meal as a special treat for her.  As I'm aware that Wendy's starts serving lunch at 10:30, I assume that McDonald's must do the same.

I assume wrongly.

I start to place my order when the young man behind the intercom says, "Ma'am, we don't start serving Happy Meals until 11 o' clock.  Would it be possible for you to wait until then?"

My heart sinks.  I envision Virginia's despondent face if I show up empty handed.  I resolve to plead my case.

"I'm afraid that won't work.  I'm on my way to my granddaughter's school to have lunch with her, and she is expecting me to bring her a Happy Meal.  Her lunchtime starts around 11, so I can't wait until then."

The next thing I know, the voice answers brightly, "My manager just said we can make one for you.  May I take your order?"

"Yes, yes!"  I exclaim.  "And please tell your manager, 'God bless you!'"

I then proceed to place my order:  six-piece chicken nuggets, apple juice, a Go-gurt, and three ketchup packages.  When the cost is confirmed, I drive around to the first window to pay.  The young man who takes my cash is the same one who takes my order.  "Ma'am, just so you know, if my manager hadn't spoken up right away, I would have made sure your granddaughter got her meal."

I beam at him.  "Then God bless you, too!"

When I arrive at the second window, the manager greets me, all smiles, as she hands me the apple juice box drink.  "Thank you for asking God's blessing on me," she says.  "You have absolutely made my day."

"And you've made mine," I assure her, "and my granddaughter's.  I can't thank you enough.  You've put the 'happy' in the Happy Meal, for sure!"

In a few minutes, I'm handed the Happy Meal with the freshly cooked, piping how chicken nuggets, and make it to Virginia's school just in time to have lunch with her.  What a joy!

That evening, I decide to do something I've rarely done:  write to McDonald's corporate headquarters to acknowledge the incredible customer service I'd experienced that morning.  I not only get an instant confirmation that my email was received, but the next day, here comes a personal note from Sarah in customer service!  It reads as follows:

Hello, Martha:
Thank you for taking the time to share your compliment about the staff.  We always enjoy hearing when our customers have a great visit to one of our restaurants.
Every McDonald's restaurant employee is trained to provide our customers with the best-possible restaurant experience.  This includes providing fast, accurate and friendly service, and serving outstanding food quality in a clean and pleasant restaurant environment.
I have shared your compliment with the franchise owner and restaurant team of the location in Canton, GA.  I know they'll appreciate the time you took to share your comments with us.
Again, we know you have many choices when making your dining-out decisions, and we truly appreciate your choosing McDonald's.  We look forward to serving you again soon.
Sarah
McDonald's Customer Contact Center

Wow!  I'm so delighted that these two stellar and caring employees will be recognized by the franchise owner.  And may God continue to bless them both!

Amen!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Just Breathe!


Job 33:4
The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Many of you who follow this blog may already know that my word for 2018 is "Breathe."  When my chiropractor, Dr. Cris, tells me last year that I need to breathe from my diaphragm, I know immediately that God has communicated to me through her.  "Belly breathing" is soothing, steadying, nourishing, enlightening.  If you're not already practicing this type of breathing, I encourage you to give it a go.

I don't think, I know, this process has brought me closer to the Lord.  It even makes me wonder if, when Jesus withdrew from His disciples and the crowds to pray, He engaged in this type of breathing.  It's life changing, life claiming.  Life calming.

And if there's ever been a week when I've needed to implement belly breathing, it's been this past one.  No, I'm not going to replay any of the wrenching events here; we've all seen and heard enough, have we not?  Suffice it to say, my stress level goes through the roof.  The painful ache in my shoulder, initially caused by emotional upset, and was all but gone, returns with a vengeance.  Thank goodness for my visit to Dr. Cris!

Thank goodness for deep, cleansing breathing . . .

It's difficult for me, a news junkie, to refrain from perusing headlines, but this week, I've resolved to let it all go.  Sure, someone can, and probably will, inform me second hand, but I want out of the circus.  I feel so, so sorry for those who find themselves smack dab in the middle of this disgraceful, chaotic mess.  I'm free to retreat.  They are not.

Maybe you, too, find this whole matter disturbing, destructive and downright nasty.  Here's what I suggest:  If you're not already praying about it, start now.  If you are praying, double down.

God sees.  God hears.  God knows.

Most importantly, God is the ultimate judge.

And while you're praying, remember this:  "Just breathe!"

Amen!

I have the opportunity to take my granddaughter, Virginia Rose, down to Oxford this coming weekend, so will not have a blog this coming Friday.  Looking forward to seeing you all back here a week from today.  God bless!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Turn, Turn, Turn


Ecclesiastes 3:1
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Fall officially arrives last week, but with temperatures in the upper 80s here in Georgia, it sure doesn't feel like it.  Yet, the signs of the season are surprisingly here.

Leaves, especially those from the oak trees, are intent upon littering our deck.  My husband, Danny, and I are scratching our heads because we have no recollection of this ever happening in September.  And the acorn "bombs" that shower down and explode on that same surface?  Makes me think Racer is up there with the local squirrels, helping them secure their annual harvest, while playing practical jokes on us at the same time.  If you've ever had one of these errant nuts hit your head, you won't soon forget the impact.  One big ouch!




Thus begins the autumnal chore of daily deck sweeping . . .

Remember the flowers we plant in the spring?


For the most part, they thrive during the summer months, with the exception of the poor Toe Tickler.


Either too much or too little water led to its untimely demise.

The begonias?


Think be-gone-ias.  They start off strong, but as September rolls around, they become anemic and spindly.  Danny dumps them before I can photograph them in their waning state, but believe me, it was a sad sight to see.

The Chocolate Chip plant meets the same fate.


Danny makes the mistake of feeding it Miracle-Gro, thinking the purple blooms might regenerate, only to discourage any and all further growth.

But the double impatiens and the Polka Dot plant, purchased to replace the Toe Tickler, are still flourishing.






As the temperatures drop over the next few weeks and fall, at long last, turns to winter, these, too, will be laid to rest.  Their season passed; their duty done.

As King Solomon so aptly expresses in Ecclesiastes, there is a time and a place for every activity under the heavens.  Seasons come and go.  They will continue to come and go.  And we must turn, turn, turn into each one.

Only God remains unchanging and unchangeable.

For all eternity.

Let us give Him the praise and the glory in every season of our lives.

Amen!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

I Can See Clearly Now


Mark 8:23-25
He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.  When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?"
He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around."
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes.  Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

It is a common experience for those who have cataract removal/lens implant to encounter intrusive floaters and an indefinitely long recovery from the effects of dilation and the surgery itself.  I'm feeling extremely fortunate that my bounce back to stellar vision happens fairly quickly.

But in those first days?  I can so relate to the Biblical passage shared above!  When I visit Dr. H., my regular eye doctor, for a post-op, he tells me my pupil is still somewhat dilated, my floaters are "normal," and my vision, believe it or not, is 20/25.  Really???  It doesn't seem that way, at least in those moments.  My eye still feels beaten up, and Tylenol and eye-drops are my constant companions, but I do trust Dr. H.'s expertise, until I hear, "Who knows?  When you come back here in a week, your eyesight could be even better than that."

He must be kidding.  I mean, 20/25 is fantastic, isn't it?  I couldn't ask or hope for anything better.

But as always, God has other plans.

On my return visit, Dr. H. performs his routine check (Can I say I've had my fill of bright lights in my eyes at this point?).  Once complete, he grins from ear to ear.  "What did I tell you about your vision last week?"

"That it might improve?"

"Exactly!  Congratulations!  You're now seeing 20/15!"

20/15???  20/15!!!

Once I recover from the shock of this incredulous news, I can't stop smiling.  I am on the proverbial Cloud 9, and don't plan to descend from it any time soon.  What a miraculous gift this is!

It just took time . . .

~

So often when we pray to God, we want His answer to be quick, and we want it our way.  But as I've written here before, we control neither God's answers nor His timing.  He does.  When I go into surgery, I must admit, my prayer, aside from the ones about lasting through the fasting, is to come out with improved eyesight.  That's all.  Nothing more, nothing less.

But in those first hours after the operation, feeling like this blind man for whom people looked like trees walking around, I wonder, "How long, oh Lord, how long?  When will I truly see clearly?"

I can just picture Him shaking His head, and fixing me in His loving and ever-patient gaze.  "When I say so, my child.  Now, come!  Let me put My hands on your eyes."

In His time.  By His touch.  I see.

Clearly.

Amen!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Dining With Jesus


Matthew 26:26-28
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

When Danny and I get engaged in 2004, he is leading the praise and worship band at his United Methodist church's contemporary service in which I will later participate.  It requires a bit of getting used to for me, as I am coming from the Episcopal church, where the word "contemporary" is a huge no-no in light of the staid liturgical tradition.  Honestly, it doesn't take me too long to embrace, wholeheartedly, this energetic and uplifting way to worship God.  But there is one ritual I have a great deal of difficulty leaving behind:  the weekly observance of the Lord's Supper.

The Holy Eucharist, or Mass, as my Catholic brothers and sisters call it, is the focal point of the Episcopal/Anglican Sunday service.  The sermon takes a serious back seat; I once heard an Episcopal priest say, "If the minister preaches over seven minutes, he doesn't understand his congregation's 'fanny time.'"  Not so in the modern United Methodist church!  With Communion happening only once a month, the pastor is not only free to be long-winded, but is encouraged to be so.  Needless to say, my fanny needs significant tweaking in those first weeks of attending Kennesaw United Methodist!

After I get over the initial shock of the once-a-month celebration of the Lord's Supper, I realize, to my chagrin, how much I have taken this commemoration of Jesus' new covenant for granted.  Now, with only being able to partake in the bread and the cup every four weeks, I anticipate this sacrament with renewed joy and thankfulness.

So, when Pastor Graham asks me to assist him in serving Communion recently, I am beside myself with enthusiasm!  What could be better than sharing with and serving others the body and blood of Christ Jesus on such a personal level?

But I'm not prepared, in any way, shape or form, for the impact this this service has upon my very being.

As the individual members of the congregation approach to receive the bread from Pastor Graham and the cup from me, I meet their gazes and say to each one, "The blood of Christ, shed for you."  Their eyes give me an unprecedented glimpse into their souls.  Therein, I see the gamut of emotions:  unbridled joy, uncertainty of worthiness, worries concealed beneath lids closed, tears flowing with gratefulness.

I witness it all.  My own eyes threaten to spill over with the empathetic love and connection I experience with my fellow Christians, those seeking to follow Jesus just as I do.  Those whose experiences, conditions and challenges I can only guess at in that brief, yet unforgettable, moment of relationship.

A relationship that miraculously transcends time and place.  We are at the table of Jesus.  In His presence.  Dining with Him.

We are one in the Spirit, and one in the Lord.

As our nation goes through perhaps the most divisive time we have ever endured since the Civil War, may we all remember that we are God's children, and loved by Him beyond measure.  May we love each other as Jesus commanded, forgetting our differences and focusing on our similarities.

Jesus has set the table for all.  Will you accept His invitation to dine?

Amen!


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

On the Fast Track


Matthew 21:22
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

I cannot begin to thank all my dear friends here at the blog and on Facebook for your kind and generous prayers for the success of my recent cataract surgery.  Yes, the outcome is everything I could have hoped for and more!  Had I been in the "dark" so long that I'd forgotten how brilliant and vibrant the colors of God's creation are?  All I can say is, every time I gaze upon anything, even the television, I am awed and humbled, so thankful that God has seen fit to restore my sight through the capable and talented hands of those who minister to me last Wednesday.

While most of you are praying for a safe operation, as the day approaches, I find myself asking the Lord for something else, something that to most folks might seem frivolous and inconsequential.  You see, I'm not one of those people who can go without food for any significant length of time.  If I'm forced to, I feel drained, irritable and downright grouchy.  Just ask my husband, Danny!  Nor am I a happy camper without my morning coffee.  But on the day of the surgery, I am allowed only a sip of water when I get up.

I have to fast.

And that's precisely what I pray to my Father about.  Because I know, it's only through His strength and grace that I can make it through this ordeal without physically and mentally collapsing.  Only God can place me on the "fast" track.

Does God hear my plea?  You better believe it!  And He answers in a bigger way than I could have ever envisioned, reminding me of just how large and in charge He is.

My fast begins at 5:30 a.m. and lasts until noon.  Not once do I miss coffee.  Not once does my fickle stomach feel anything but full - no growling, no rumbling, no nothing!  And when I'm finally free to eat and drink, I'm neither ravenous nor thirsty in the least.  I sip on orange juice and nibble at a ham sandwich that Danny has brought along, but am unable to finish either.

I am already filled.

Filled by the Holy Spirit.

And my heart overflows with gratitude to the One who received my prayer, and so graciously answered it.

Amen!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

This Is The Game That Never Ends . . .


Daniel 4:3
How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders!  His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation.

When our oldest granddaughter, Virginia Rose, turns eight in July, my husband, Danny, and I give her the one, the only, granddaddy and grand-master of all board games:  Monopoly!


Invented in 1903 by Lizzy Magie, and dubbed "The Landlord's Game," Monopoly has seen many transformations throughout the ensuing years, but has managed, even in this age of technology, to remain a family-friendly classic.

Once she learns the rules, Virginia takes to the game like a born entrepreneur.  She can't get enough of it!


We spend hours on the living room floor rolling dice, purchasing real estate, railroads and utilities, and trying our best to buy blocks of property on which houses or hotels can be erected.




So much depends on the rolls of the dice, the dollars in our personal funds, and the dictates of the Chance and Community Chest cards as to whether or not we succeed in outdoing the other.

Monopoly is the definition of risk, luck and savvy decisions, not to mention the inevitable crushing of one's opponent.  The latter is hardly the recipe for God's kingdom, yet I believe that the lessons learned in playing this game show us how to live in the world, yet not be of it.


  • Stewardship - We are called by God to be good stewards of the gifts He's given us.  If we've been given monetary resources in abundance, we need to make responsible decisions about how to use/share those funds for the good of our family, our church family, and others in our community who are in need.
  • Life isn't fair - Jesus never guaranteed us a stress-free, no-hassle life, but He did promise to be with us through it all, no matter what afflictions or troubles come our way.  He has vowed to carry our burdens when we lay them at His feet.
  • Risk taking is a part of life - Jesus sent His disciples out, two by two, to spread the Good News.  There was no guarantee that the Word would be met with acceptance, but off they went in faith, willing to risk it all for Jesus and His Message of repentance and salvation.
  • God's love is infinite, eternal, never-ending - Oh, yes!  And so is the game of Monopoly - never-ending, that is.  Virginia and I play for hours, taking breaks here and there, especially to check out if this Gammie has any moving joints left after sitting on the floor for way too long.  No, we never have a definitive winner, as the pendulum of money and property seems to swing back and forth when least expected, leaving us in perpetual game time suspense.
The Monopoly board remains in place overnight, ready and waiting for the challenge we will take up once again in the morning.  How this brings back priceless memories of the marathon games I play with neighborhood friends as a child, and again, with my own children during the hot and steamy doldrums of summer.

From generation to generation, the game endures.

From generation to generation, God's kingdom, overflowing with love and grace, endures.

And when we allow our Father to have a monopoly on our hearts, we can proclaim in glorious triumph, "We win!"

Amen.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Caterpillar What???


Ephesians 1:7
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace.

Matthew 18:21-22
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?  Up to seven times?
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven."

This August, an army of Orange Striped Oakworms (pictured above) take up residence in the towering oak tree whose branches arch high above our deck.  In this part of their life-cycle, eating is a constant activity, and the oak tree, it seems, provides a bountiful spread.

But as we all know, eating results in the eventual process of elimination.  That's right - caterpillar poop!




Now, these tiny pellets may look innocuous enough, even reminding us of small peppercorns.  But don't let their innocent facade fool you.  When the rain falls, and we've had a ton of precipitation this summer, these itsy-bitsy particles swell to three times their original size!  And to add insult to injury, when we go to sweep the bulbous scat off the deck, they smear, leaving behind an ugly discoloration on the wood surface.  No photo here; I'm leaving to your imagination your favorite illustration of "gross!."

It doesn't take another of these incidences for my husband, Danny, and I to sweep off the deck every chance we get.  Better to be proactive than caught off guard.

And aren't our sins rather like those dry, inert pellets?  If we don't acknowledge them promptly, running to Jesus for forgiveness, asking Him to sweep them from the decks of our hearts, they are sure to swell, fester and leave a poisonous stain on our souls.

Just as Jesus is sure to forgive us when we repent of our sins, we must be just as quick to forgive others.  If we fail to do so, as many times as the circumstances might require, we only punish ourselves.

Simple concepts.  Not easy to follow at times, but follow, we must.

And follow, we can, when we are following Jesus.

Amen!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

I Was Blind, But Now I See


Mark 10:50-52
Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped up and came to Jesus.
"What do you want me to do for you?"  Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see."
"Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you."  Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Recently, I go to my eye doctor for my annual exam.  The evidence is now incontrovertible.  The cataract in my left eye has become so intrusive, it must be removed, and the sooner the better.

Now, I must confess.  My doctor advises me last summer to have the procedure done, but I develop a severe case of "chicken," and decide, because the new contact prescription helps so much, to postpone the surgery.  After all, with everything my husband, Danny, goes through concerning a new pacemaker in 2017, I'm simply not up for any more medical drama.

But this time around, I bite the bullet, scheduling my appointment for cataract removal the moment I get home from the doctor's.  It's set for September 12.  I'm actually relieved to be going forward, knowing how much my eyesight will improve once the offending player is removed, and a permanent (hopefully perfect) lens is implanted.

There is one problem though.  When my contacts are upgraded, I neglect to do the same for my glasses, which I'm required to wear for an entire week before the surgery.  Yikes!  How will that affect my ability to read?  To write?  What about driving?  Will headaches come calling on a daily basis?  Or will my eyes adjust smoothly to this transition?

Instead of worrying about all this, I am praying about it, knowing God will help me get through whatever distress or discomfort I might endure those seven days.  And friends, I would so appreciate your prayers, too, as the wearing of the glasses begins tomorrow.

I have to focus (pun intended) on the ultimate goal:  to see clearly without the aid of contacts or glasses.  Although the blind man in Mark's verses above makes his request to Jesus in person, I'm asking the Lord to work through the hands of the technicians, nurses and doctors to restore my sight, and heal me completely.

I have faith the Lord will do this.

He's the only One who can.

Amen!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Party On???


Isaiah 43:2
When you pass through waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

Granddaughter, Virginia Rose, and I arrive at my mother's house this past Thursday, and are met at the door not by Mom, but by her housekeeper, Rosa.  Much to our dismay, Rosa tells us that Mom is at the emergency room at the local hospital.  A dear friend has taken her for X-rays to find out if her almost-fall earlier in the week has left her with cracked ribs.

Sure enough, that's the diagnosis.  And to complicate matters, because Mom hasn't been able to draw deep breaths due to the pain, she has developed severe congestion in her lungs.  The doctor decides she needs to stay the night for observation, oxygen treatments and IV antibiotics.  The greatest fear?  Mom condition could spiral into pneumonia.  That can be deadly for anyone, but for someone about to be 90 years young?  Well, to say the least, our entire family is deeply concerned, and prayers for her healing is a constant.

Mom lets everyone, and I mean everyone, at the hospital know that she is turning 90 on Saturday, and is dead set on not missing the celebration.  Fortunately, she is released late Friday afternoon, but not without first agreeing to submit to home oxygen.  My brother, Bill, volunteers to pick her up since, because of MIL, I'm fairly well-versed in how the oxygen equipment works, and the right questions to ask the pleasant technician who sets us up.

Long story short, Mom is so grateful to be home, and overjoyed that she will be able to enjoy her milestone birthday with children, grandchildren and great-grands.  The party is on!!!






The birthday girl with granddaughter, Sarah


Brother Bill and my son, Daniel


Niece, Rebecca, and her friend, Mills


Daddy (John) with the littlest girls

 Bill has a new friend in Virginia


My beautiful daughter, Sarah


Virginia Rose


Savannah Jane


Alexandra Nancy with the untamed locks!


Sisterly love


Some lovely birthday gifts

But now comes the time for my brother and I to pass through the waters.  Bill offers to stay with Mom this week as I'm slated to babysit for Sarah on Tuesday.  On Thursday, it becomes my turn to stay with her for as long as is required.  In light of this, I've decided it's best for me to suspend Meditations of My Heart during the month of August.

My family would so appreciate your prayers for Mom at this time.  Also, if you could pray for Bill and me as we may have to make some difficult decisions in the days to come, that will give us much peace and comfort.

Although we are passing through some troubled waters, roaring rivers and raging fires, we know God is right there with us every step of the way.  His grace, mercy and unfailing love will see us through.

May God bless you all!

Standing Up to the Test

James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that...