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!

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...