Friday, March 22, 2019

Infinite Joy

Psalm 30:11-12
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord, my God, I will praise You forever.

At first, our granddaughter, Virginia Rose, didn't understand the need for Mimi, her Nonna, to move in with us.  The room we give to Mimi has been hers ever since Uncle Giovanni moves out.  Oh, how proud Virginia is to have a place of her own at our house!

So in order to accommodate her regular, overnight visits, Papa, aka Danny, orders a special mattress for Virginia so she can spend weekends comfortably sleeping in our bedroom.  She is amazingly agreeable to the whole situation.  Never complaining.  Never asking for the return of "her" room.

Virginia genuinely loves her doting Nonna, and is always quick to listen to her and give her unsolicited hugs, gestures that never fail to make Mimi smile.  Our little grand-girl brings so much joy to this wise and wonderful woman, who is willing to acknowledge what privilege her presence has taken away from Virginia, and is determined to make sure she understands that this coveted space will one day be restored to her.

The photo above attests to Virginia's belief in Nonna's promise.

Nonna always said in honesty
To beloved great-grandchild
That in future, the room would be hers
Once again.  "I'm only leasing time,
And time, for me, is not forever given."
Virginia hears, believes in words bestowed
Upon her, every hope enveloped
Trusting words of elder filled with truth
For in it all, morning grace arrives
Mourning sackcloth turns to infinite joy.


Dear Friends,

Danny and I will be heading out this weekend to visit my mother, and then cruise down to St. Simon's, one of Georgia's Golden Isles, to inter Mimi's remains in the plot where her husband, Dan, and her in-laws are buried.  As we are close to our 14th wedding anniversary, we will be spending the week on Jekyll Island, a beach rather than a mountain vacation.

The week after that is Virginia's spring break from school, so I will be taking her down to my Mom's for several days.  Long story short, I won't be blogging for two weeks because of all these plans.  If I don't comment on your blogs during this time, I ask your forgiveness and understanding.  I won't forget you, and will continue to keep you in my prayers as always.

Love and blessings!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Who I Am

My father, a PhD botanist and professor of biology at Emory University, spent most of his professional life studying the flora of granite outcrops in the south, of which there are way too many to number.  On many summer or spring breaks, Dad would load the entire family into the car, and off we would travel to explore these sites with him.  It was always an adventure that we looked forward to; a break in what could all too easily become a humdrum, day-to-day existence.  Even when temperatures soared to 100 plus on those exposed rocks, simply being with Dad, discovering new and thriving species in the harsh environs, was reward enough.

Perhaps, because the month of March denotes Dad's passing in 2014, this memory returns to me, strong and vibrant.  I am immediately called to write it down.  And one thing I've learned over the years of trusting in God, when the nudge comes from Him, acknowledge and act!  The following poem is my answer to the Lord's inspiration.


Matthew 5:3
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The Who I Am

Our car pulls up, stops at homestead
In need of paint and reparation
Neglect not caused by aspiration
But only means to make it happen
Mom, brother and I watch
As Dad approaches gates of hell
In asking for permission to
Explore a hidden pearl-rich outcrop
On the land owned and valued
By this family.  It belongs
For generations to them all
Dad's Yankee accent, did he hide?
Had he learned the lilt and lisp
Of quaint Southern inflection
To convince reluctant owner
And sanction Dad's wish to trespass?
Whatever transpired, the path was clear
But I will ever recall, photo sharp
The two sons, wistful, overall clad,
Who meet my gaze with wonder, longing
For that which other children have
And I, in unexpected union
Find myself wishing to trade
My life with theirs, authentic, true
Because that's what I glean and gain
From their poor in spirit gazes
Rich in God's comforting wisdom
For there begins the who they are
And there begins the who I am

Friday, March 15, 2019

More Blessed to Give

Acts 20:35
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

There was only one thing my MIL, Mimi, loved after her God and her family, and that was a steaming hot, fresh cup of coffee.  As she often awakened hours before we would, it was my practice and my joy to prepare her brew for the morning.  The photo above depicts her favorite mug and beloved brand of coffee.  It was such an honor to save Mimi the stressful steps of reaching and fetching in order to savor the warmth and comfort coffee can provide.

I cannot now brew a pot without visiting fond memories of Mimi.  Memories that I share with you now . . .

For over a year
Each evening
I set up coffee pot
Filtered water
Measured grind
Only push the button
To realize
Morning's glory
Rich and aromatic
Sleepy soul
Refreshing weary spirit
Routine easy
Motive caring
Until there was no longer
A pot, a filter
Water drawn
To meet a loved one's need
Still . . .
I add the water
Place the filter
Ready for the call
Tomorrow brings
In memory
Rejoicing, come to table
For what is was
For what it is
For what will ever be


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

It's About Time

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Do any of you detest the bi-annual time change as I do?  Especially the one we just endured, where we lose that precious hour of sleep?  Here it is, Tuesday, and I've yet to recover.  I have to set my alarm to force myself up at an irregular time in the morning, lest that precious part of the day slips away from me.

I know, I know.  Eventually, my body will make the necessary adjustments.  I just wish, as a country, we'd choose either standard or daylight savings time, and simply stick to it year round.  

Hey, I can dream, can't I?

If anything good can come out of the inconvenience of changing every clock in the house, it's the realization that time is relative.  It is, after all, a human invention, and as such, can be altered to fit the season.  Even though my internal clock might rebel in the moment, time marches on, with or without my consent.  

And I'd better keep that straight, or be late for work, school, appointments, and everything in between!

There is ultimate comfort, however, in knowing that Father God is beyond time.  No watches or alarms for Him!  The Lord is unchanging, immutable, all-mighty, and all-powerful.  And thankfully, Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.

No matter what time it is here on earth, it's always the right time to invite Jesus into our hearts.  He is the eternal way, truth and life.

So, my friends, if you've yet to ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life, I pray that you will decide it's about time!


Friday, March 8, 2019

Seek Ye First

Matthew 6:33
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

It seems to be a current trend in our culture to embrace the de-cluttering and downsizing of our living space.  It's not a bad thing at all, because the hope is that by removing the distractions, the things that possess us, we can focus on what's truly important in the day to day:  Loving God and our neighbor.

Now, I'll be the first to say, that if the possessions you own don't own you, you're in good shape.  They are far from being idols that hinder your spiritual growth.  You are well on your way down the positive path of keeping Christ front and center in your life.

But organizing all that "stuff" into a neat, minute, uncluttered package?  That can present a challenge!

During a recent trip to my mother's, my husband, Danny, discovers the popular show, Tidying Up, featuring minimalist extraordinaire, Marie Kondo.  He is inspired to make some changes as to how some necessities are stored in his bureau.  So when I return home, I'm met with this:

Okay.  I get it.  But, hey!  I'm the laundry queen in our house, and now I have to learn a new method for folding clothes?  Can you teach an old dog new tricks?  Long story short, I'm adapting.  Slowly and methodically.

Because Danny means the world to me, I really want to go all out to support his efforts in reorganization.  And yes, I have to admit, this system does make sense, even if it involves extra effort on my part as you can see by the steps a rolled up T-shirt entails.

Yes, lots of steps to minimalize the space the T-shirts take up.  But you know what?  With every extra move I make, I am reminded of how much I'm blessed by Danny's love for me, and how much I love him in return.  I thank God for His blessings on our marriage, through bad times and good.  And I know it is a marriage that is made strong, and true, and solid because we both choose to seek God's kingdom first and foremost.

So, my friends, I urge you to purge the clutter from your lives, the unnecessary things that hold you hostage from knowing a full commitment to God.  Seek His kingdom and His righteousness, and all will fall into place as it should.


Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Embrace Lent!

Matthew 6:16-18
When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting.  Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

The season of Lent has arrived once again.  Many of us will be attending Ash Wednesday services tomorrow as we prepare for the forty days of reflection and renewal in the Lord, as we journey, in fresh and expectant hope, toward the glorious celebration that is Easter.

As I've posted in prior years, Lent, for me, is not so much about giving something up as it is taking something on - something viable that will transform my spirit and draw me closer to Jesus.

And isn't that a 'something' all of us desire?  After all, what could be better than that?

In my book?  Nothing!

My devotional readings for the season, in addition to my daily Bible verses, will come from the book, Shalom in Psalms - A Devotional from the Jewish Heart of the Christian Faith.  I order it several months back in anticipation of an in depth study.  As there is a total of 150 Psalms in the Bible, I will be tackling at least three Psalms and the accompanying commentary each day.  Will I keep a journal along with this?  You bet!  I also plan to resurrect my gratitude attitude journal, writing down seven things per day for which I am thankful.

So if that's what I'm taking on, what am I giving up?  Last year, I choose to ditch a favorite talk radio show.  This year, instead of tossing it altogether, I plan to cut the time I listen in half.  Yes, I'm that much of a news junkie - lol!

As I walk down the Lenten road, I'm sure other opportunities to grow closer to God will manifest themselves, but for now, I'm content to start with what I've chosen.

What about you?  Do you observe Lent each year?  What do you take up/give up for the season?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

And remember, although Lent is a heightened time of penitence, confession and prayer, it is not a time for long faces and sober expressions.  Let's, instead, rejoice in and embrace this intentional experience as we lean into the Lord!


Friday, March 1, 2019

God Will Do the Rest

2 Kings 12:15
They did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty.

Ephesians 4:25
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Recently, I notice that when my car accelerates to 50 mph, there's a slight shimmying in the vehicle.  "Tires are out of balance," my husband, Danny, concludes.  "Before you take that trip to your Mom's, run the car up to the place where we got your tires last year.  They'll adjust it for free."

Free sounds good to me, especially since my bank account has just been walloped by a dental bill regarding four new crowns.  Ouch!  So I resolve to get my car to the shop post haste.

While I'm waiting, and it is a long wait, for the technicians to address my car's problem, the amicable customer service manager approaches, and takes a seat next to me.  The next thing I'm hearing is that the battery needs replacing.  Really???  I'm stumped as we just had the battery changed out last spring, but thinking it could be possible, as I know next to nothing about cars, I give the go-ahead.

$109.00 . . . So much for free.

But a niggling in my mind says to text Danny about this new development.  "No!  Don't get one!  We have a warranty from Auto Zone that's still in effect.  They'll replace it for nothing."  Whew!  I had no idea.

So I get the manager's attention, and politely explain the situation.  He assures me that it's no problem, and he fully understands.  Yes!  Now I'll let Danny drive my car to Auto Zone when I get home so they can test the battery and replace it if necessary.

When Danny returns home, I can tell he's incensed.  "I watched the technician check your battery.  It's perfectly fine!  They were trying to scam you, Martha.  Well, this much is for sure, we're never darkening the door of that tire place again!"

Now it's my turn to be ticked off.  How dare that manager try to pull the wool over my eyes!  Just because I'm a woman, there by myself, he assumes, and rightly so, that I'm clueless when it comes to car repair.  And he underhandedly tries to take advantage of me?  Needless to say, I feel hurt and disappointed by this man's behavior.

Did the business need the money so much, it was worth deceiving a customer?  To actually lie about a need that didn't exist, only to line the company's pockets?  Where are honesty and truth?

Obviously, non-existent at this establishment.

After I cool down a bit though, I find myself feeling sorry for this man.  I doubt that he is a faithful and practicing Christian if he imagines this kind of behavior to be acceptable.  So I pray for him.

Yes, Danny and I could have both marched down to the tire store and reamed this guy out, but then, we would be betraying our own beliefs in mercy, love and grace.

No, prayer is what this fellow needs.

And I can be assured that God will do the rest.


I'll Be There For You

  Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they...