Friday, December 28, 2018

Love and Blessings!

I am the Lord, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
though you have not acknowledged me,
so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
I am the Lord and there is no other.

~Isaiah 45:5-6

As the sun sets on the year 2018, and prepares to rise in 2019, I am also going to disappear for a while here at Meditations of My Heart.  It isn't that I need a rest from blogging.  I simply want to spend as many days with granddaughter, Virginia Rose, while she is on her Christmas break.  We might even travel down to Oxford to see my mother for a few days.

That being said, I will be back here, raring to go, on Tuesday, January 8th, and will reveal my word for 2019 at that time.  It's a good one, I promise!

May the joy and peace of the Christmas season linger long into your New Year, my friends, and may the Lord always be your strength.

Love and Blessings to all!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus!

Matthew 19:14
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

When Virginia Rose, our oldest granddaughter, spends the weekend with us recently, she overhears a segment on CBS' Sunday Morning, which MIL enjoys watching.  They are discussing that famous editorial when a very young Virginia O'Hanlon pens a letter to The Sun, at her father's advice, asking if Santa Claus is real.  Our Virginia is transfixed from the moment she hears her name!

Ironically, Virginia has recently posed questions to the adults in her life regarding the existence of Santa.  It probably starts when I don't take extra precautions to hide whatever Easter chocolates are left over from the holiday.  I not only stash these carelessly in our candy drawer for prying little eyes to see, but I also leave a basket of plastic eggshells I preserve from year to year in the downstairs toy closet.  Not good, Gammie!  Hey, once you figure out the Easter Bunny isn't the one hiding those eggs, it's a natural next step to count Santa out of the whole Christmas equation.

As adults, we know the real reasons for both seasons, yet we perpetuate the commercially generated lore so attractive to the young ones.  Our own inner child longs to keep the magic and mystery alive for them, but are we doing them a disservice in the long run?  Or in the spirit of Santa's generosity toward and love for all children, are we helping our kids more fully understand God's all-encompassing love for each and every one of us?

Below is the original Virginia inquiry, and an abbreviated version of the editor's (Francis Church - an atheist, according to Wikipedia) answer.

Dear Editor:
I am 8 years old.  Some of my friends say there is no Santa Claus.  Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so."  Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O'Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong.
They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.  They do not believe except they see.  They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.  All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.  He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.
Alas!  How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus.
It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.
There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.

It confounds me that this atheist editor, Church, (and yes, there is classic irony there, too!) wrote such inspirational advice to young Virginia so many long years ago.  My inclination is to believe that this man spent his formative years immersed in the faith, yet the world and its temptations prevailed upon him.  Still, what he learned in childhood somehow remained in his heart.

  • Skepticism?  We walk by faith, not by sight.
  • Love, generosity, devotion?  Love the Lord your God with all you heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.
  • No Santa Claus?  No Virginias?  We are made in God's image.  Who are we that God should be mindful of us, yet He, the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe, deems we are worthy.
  • Childlike faith?  Jesus declared that the little children come to Him to receive His blessing and comfort.
  • Poetry and romance?  Oh, the Bible is rife with it!  God is the master story-teller and weaver of words.
So after reading this, what do you think about Santa Claus?  Do you believe?  Can you help a young person transition from this dimension that mirrors Christ's love to embrace the real deal?

Honestly, I'm leaving the Santa Claus story up to Virginia's parents to tell when they are ready.  It's really not my place to do so.

But I'm praying that the spirit of giving and love at Christmas will ever be alive in Virginia's heart, and that it will continue to live in yours!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!


Friday, December 21, 2018

They Will Not Turn From It

Proverbs 22:6
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.

I make no apologies for being a doting Gammie when it comes to Virginia Rose, our first-born granddaughter.  Savannah Jane and Alexandra Nancy, now ages four and three, are no less loved by their Papa and me, but circumstances with MIL, and their young ages, have prevented us from having them over for a spend-the-night adventure.  Only 15 months apart, these two are peas in a pod, practically joined at the hip.  You can't have one without the other; they even dress alike on Halloween!

But Virginia inherits eldest grandchild status.  Being four years older than Savannah, she's had innumerable overnight experiences with us.  She truly looks forward to the peace and quiet in the times we have together, and is always sure to tell us that she is grateful for being "spoiled" when she is here.  Yes, Papa, aka Danny, loves to surprise Virginia with an unexpected delicacy from the candy department, and she is always so appreciative.  And when "mean old Gammie" calls her to brush her teeth after consuming the chocolate, she is immediately compliant.

How could one not love this child?

True to form, on her latest visit, Virginia shows us how she is always thinking of others.  She knows how much her Papa treasures the lush moss that grows in our yard, and has observed him walking around the property, carefully tamping down bits and pieces of moss upended by errant squirrels (sorry, Racer) in search of buried acorns.  She decides this day to take matters into her own hands.

There is a cache of soft dirt at the base of one of our many trees.  So Virginia gets right to work digging, and distributes soil to the unseated moss she views as most in need of restoration.

Mission accomplished, she gently tamps the moss back in place, just as she's seen her Papa do in the past.

"The extra dirt will help the moss grow, won't it, Gammie?"

"It certainly can't hurt, honey.  Moss is pretty tough.  It can even grow on rocks and tree trunks, when given enough time.  But you've definitely made it easier for these patches that you've cared for to grow and flourish.  I know Papa really appreciates all your effort and thoughtfulness."

Virginia can't help but be pleased!


God reminds us, as parents and grandparents, that it is our responsibility to raise children up in the way they should go, modeling behaviors that will help them grow into dependable, trustworthy and caring adults.  And one of the most precious and priceless legacies we can impart to these little ones is to love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love their neighbors as themselves.

Teach them to pray.  Teach them to worship.  Instill in them the desire to glorify their Father in Heaven with everything they think, say or do.

Practice those things, and when our children are old, they will not turn from it.


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

If It's Wednesday, It Must Be the Psalms

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Advent arrives on December 2nd, officially ushering in the season of Christmas.  For many of us, it's a time when our to-do list ramps up into a whirlwind of demanding activities:  shopping; decorating; baking; sending Christmas cards, attending parties - Whew!!!  The hustle and bustle can all too successfully turn the joy and peace we long to enjoy into a downward spiral of end-of-our-rope exhaustion.

More than ever, we need to retreat to a place of quiet and rest on a daily basis, so we can renew and recharge ourselves in the presence of God.  After all, anticipating Christmas isn't about all the stuff to get and things to do, it's about celebrating God's love for us by sending Jesus, His only Son, to save us from our sins.  And besides spending intentional time with the Lord in prayer, I can't think of anything better we can do than to immerse ourselves in His eternal Word.

Those of you who have followed Meditations of My Heart for any length of time know that in my daily Bible study, I adhere to the 52 Week Bible Reading Plan.  The onset of Advent initiates my fourth year of reading the Bible, via this plan, all the way through.  I've found that no matter how crazy or busy my days are, reading God's Word every day in this format is absolutely doable, not to mention rewarding and refreshing for my heart, mind and soul.

As I explained last year in a previous blog, the 52 Week Bible Reading Plan breaks the Bible up into seven categories, one for each day of the week:

  • Sunday - Epistles
  • Monday - The Law
  • Tuesday - History
  • Wednesday - Psalms (This book lasts the entire year, hence the title above!)
  • Thursday - Poetry
  • Friday - Prophecy
  • Saturday - Gospels
Some of you may think this is a disjointed way to go about reading God's Word, but for me, I like the rhythm of the change-up.  If you don't have a regular Bible reading routine, why not give the 52 Week Bible Reading Plan a try?  Yes, the first Sunday in Advent is behind us, but you can start this study on any Sunday of the year.

Or perhaps, you already have a study method that works wonderfully for you.  If you do, please share with all of us in the comments section.  The more, the merrier!  Oh, and do let us know if you decide to use the plan described here.  I, for one, would love your feedback!

And remember, it doesn't matter the way in which you read the Bible, it matters that you read it!


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.


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.


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