Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Known By Name


Psalm 9:10
Those who know Your name trust in You, for You Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.


I am the farmer, tilling soil
Reaping in God's time
I am the miner, coal-face
Black with sooty rime
I am the fisherman at dusk
Hauling catch to shore
I am the local baker, maker
Treats supreme, galore
I am a seamstress, patient
Designs unique, my own
I am construction worker who
Makes a house a home
I am, and We the People, know
With whom we stake our claim
Deplorables, and worse, we're called
By Him, we're known by name

Amen

My friends, I'm going to be taking the rest of this week off as I have to travel back to my Mom's home to help her with some new hearing aids.  Yes, I will have my Chrome Book with me, so will be able to correspond with you as needed, but will not be posting anew until a week from today.  Know I keep you all in my prayers, and would appreciate yours for safe travels, and for Mom's continued health.
Love and blessings!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Back Stabbed!


2 Corinthians 12:7b-9
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

I awaken this past Monday to be greeted by a debilitating pain I've never experienced in my lower back, specifically on my left side.  While my husband, Danny, struggles with back issues from time to time (he's in the throws of one now), this is a new and entirely unwelcome irritant to my body.  It lends a whole new meaning to the words "back stabbed."

I run through the gamut of questions.  What did I do to bring this on?  Is it caused by not getting enough physical activity during the previous week?  Too much time spent in the car, driving to Mom's and back?  Sleeping in the wrong position?

The questions soon become irrelevant as the persistent ache forces me to run for the medicine cabinet for relief.  Two Tylenol, and thirty minutes later, I'm able to somewhat tend to household chores without whining or grimacing.  But by the afternoon, that morning dosage has worn thin.  Motrin and a heating pad are the next remedies of choice.

By the time I retire for the evening, I am feeling better.  I do rest peacefully and comfortably.  But in the morning?  Here we go again!

Motrin to start this time around.  Otherwise, the dishwasher won't get emptied, the birds won't get fed, the bed won't get made, the laundry will languish, and I will wear a grumpy expression for the remainder of the day.

But with this unexpected mess come some unexpected blessings.

I'm forced to slow down.  Measured steps and thoughtful movements have me living more in the moment, mindful of the present in a heightened way.

I'm humbled.  There's nothing like pain to remind you that your body is NOT what it was 20 years ago.  For someone like me, who frequents the gym, and thinks other peoples bodies will wear out, but not mine, this is a true eye-opener.

I'm thankful.  Not for the "thorn," but for God, whose walking this path with me.  I can lean on His strength, knowing His power will be made perfect in me in spite of my imperfections.

I'm reminded.  God's grace is, and always will be, sufficient for me.

I'm praying (more than usual).  Yes, I do pray for God's healing power to work wonders.  But I remember to also pray that His will, not mine, be done.

And I would sure appreciate your prayers at this time, my friends, and for Danny, who has opted to go to our chiropractor for much needed relief.  Who knows?  I may be next!

Additionally, if you are in need of special prayers for you or a loved one, please leave those in the comments' section.  I will most definitely read and respond to each of you.

Most importantly, I will pray!

Amen!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Nobody's Perfect


Matthew 5:48
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

(Susie Fairchild's conversation with Anna as they are planning to prepare chicken and dumplings - Excerpt from Children in the Garden.)

"Do you really think they'll like how I've made them?"  Anna asked with a hint of uncertainty in her voice.
"Of course, they will, dear," Mrs. Fairchild assured her.  "We have time for a little more practice, and I will help you do them perfectly."
"Mom says no one is perfect," Anna said, "so how can I do something perfectly?"
Susie smiled inwardly at the inherent knowledge of the young.  It never ceased to amaze her that the words spoken with such innocence could always cause her to review her own shortcomings.
She said to Anna, "All right, dear, maybe not perfect, but as close to it as one can get, how's that?"
"Okay," she replied and skipped gaily back to the kitchen.

A few weeks ago, granddaughter, Virginia Rose, and I are having a conversation about her fourth-grade classmates.  "I have lots of friends, Gammie," she states, "but there are some girls who go around telling everybody they're perfect."

"Really?  What do say to them?"

"I tell them that nobody's perfect," Virginia answers.  "And you know what they say?"

"No, what?"

"But I'm perfect!"  Virginia shakes her head in exasperation.  "They just don't understand humankind."

I have to agree wholeheartedly, and not without my own inward smile at Virginia's precocious observation.  We are all flawed.  We all make mistakes.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. ~Romans 3:23

And if we were perfect, why would any of us have need of a Savior?

So, what does Jesus actually mean when He tells us to "be perfect?"

As Pastor Alex explains in a recent sermon, becoming perfect is a sanctification process which lasts all of our days.  It is God's labor of love working within us.

But there is a catch.  God cannot do His work of perfecting us unless we submit entirely to His will.  If we surrender to Him, though, He will be faithful to mold and shape us into a true reflection of Christ Jesus.

That's what I want my "perfect" to look like.

How about you?

Amen!

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Watering Can


Psalm 72:6
May he be like rain falling on a mown field,
like showers watering the earth.


Funny, isn't it?
The things we cling to, keep
And those we toss away?
I keep watering can
Precious gift from Dad
With memories of witness
Untold usefulness
Not curtailed by time
Or space, or place, or death
To water earth with grace
A prophetic moment
Dad's smile, his laughter
In the here and now

Amen.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Blessed!


Psalm 37:25-26
I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be a blessing.

Last week, I decide it's high time I pay a visit to granddaughters, Virginia Rose and Savannah Jane, at school during their respective lunch times.  Virginia and I have shared many lunch dates in the past, but as Savannah has just started kindergarten, this is our first rendezvous.

I'm uncharacteristically running late, so when I arrive at the cafeteria, Savannah's class is already in the lunch line.  I have to scan the tables filling up fast with children to spot her.  When she sees me, she smiles broadly, but neither shouts nor waves her hand.  I ask, "Savannah, do you want to stay here and eat with your friends, or go over to the tables reserved for visiting parents and grandparents?"

Savannah points at the table, indicating she'd like to stay put, so I take the seat next to her.  Immediately, the other little girls at our table start chattering away at me - so cute!  But my own granddaughter?  She utters nary a word.  Just nods or points or smiles.





Or makes faces!





There are many volunteers on hand in the cafeteria, especially when the younger crowd is there.  They cheerfully make the rounds, helping to open milk cartons or juice boxes, handing out napkins, and generally patrolling the children's behavior.  I take particular notice of an older woman wearing a shirt with this proud boast on the back:  Blessed To Be Called Nana.  That makes me smile!

Before I know it, this same woman approaches me congenially, and pointing to Savannah, says, "She never speaks a word in the cafeteria.  Does she talk at home?"

"Yes," I reply, amused.  "But not nearly as much as her older sister, who does most of the talking for her."

Nana laughs.  "That's what I figured.  It happened in my family, too."  Then she's off in a twinkling to tend to the needs of waiting students.

I turn to Savannah.  "You know what got Virginia in trouble in kindergarten?"  She shakes her head "no."  "It was her constant talking.  Guess that won't be a problem for you, will it?"

I'm rewarded with a grin.



But no words.

When it's time for her class to leave the cafeteria, Savannah gives me a big hug, and gets right in line with the other students.  I wave good-bye as they troop down the hall.

Now, it's wait time until Virginia's fourth grade class appears at the lunch room doors.  When she spots me, she waves me over, hugs me, and marches confidently toward those tables designated for visitors.  Virginia is more than content to sit separately from her classmates in order to spend time with me.  Such a thrill for this Gammie!



And while Savannah only picks at her food, Virginia gobbles her lunch with gusto!

Yes, we talk.  On and on and on.  Right up to the minute Virginia's class is lining up.  "I love you, Gammie,''she declares, giving me a parting hug, which I warmly return.

"I love you, too, sweetie!"

As I reflect on the dramatic difference in personalities of these two precious grands, I find myself filled to overflowing with thankfulness for each unique and lovable soul God has chosen to put on this earth.

And this much I know:  I am blessed to be called Gammie!

Amen!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Just For You


Luke 15:20b
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

I first posted the above photo in August, when these two marvelous turkeys, a mom and a juvenile, begin visiting our yard to partake of the seeds spread for the birds, squirrels and chipmunks.  Amazingly, the duo returns on a daily basis, sometimes more than once per day.  How we love seeing them and watching the "little" one grow!




These photos show, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the young turkey is a Tom.  See how his wattle is a brighter red than that of his mother?  And the head more bluish than hers?  Not to mention the size!

But sadly, these last few days, no turkeys have appeared in the yard.  How I miss them!  I'm constantly peeking out the kitchen or bedroom windows, or walking out on our deck, to see if they have returned at last.  Yes, it's becoming an obsession of sorts.

After all, when wild creatures grace our days so faithfully, we can't help but become attached to them, imagining they are visiting just for us.  I'm fervently hoping we will see our two feathered friends soon.

And I wonder.  Did the father of the prodigal son spend hours, day after day, gazing vigilantly with tearful, wistful eyes, down the road his son took weeks and months ago?  Hoping against hope that he would at long last see his beloved child returning home?

I can't help but think so.

When we wander from our Father in heaven, he, too, watches steadfastly for our return to Him, welcoming us back with a warm embrace that makes us wonder why we ever chose to leave in the first place.

If you've strayed from God's presence, turn around in repentance, and run into His outstretched arms.

His love is waiting.  Just for you.

Amen!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Wings Like Eagles (or Maybe Hawks?)


The photo featured above is taken from our dining room window; Danny has a perfect view of it from his computer desk chair.  We are conversing away one afternoon when, out of the corner of my eye, I catch something BIG winging its way over our deck.  Hoping beyond hope that it has landed nearby, I lean cautiously toward this same window.

Hallelujah!  It's a hawk!

"Go get my camera," Danny whispers, as if the hawk can hear him.  I hasten to the bedroom to fetch it, praying all the while that this majestic bird will still be there upon my return.

Prayers are answered!

And Danny's photos are so stunning, I'm compelled to share them with you.  I've accompanied them with scripture that I pray invites you to meditate upon God's Word and revel in the marvels of His creation.



I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. ~Psalm 61:4



Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. ~Isaiah 40:30-31



Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they? ~Matthew 6:26



Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. ~Matthew 23:37



You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. ~Exodus 19:4


We are so blessed by our recent visit by this hawk.  I hope you, too, are keeping your hearts, minds and souls open to God's wonders in all of His works.

Amen!

Friday, October 4, 2019

Bloom Where You're Planted


1 Corinthians 12:27-28
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is part of it.  And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.

Back in June, my husband, Danny, and I select and pot various flowers to decorate our deck for the summer (which I'm now calling the Endless Summer, because here we are in October, and temperatures are still soaring above 90!).  We usually plant in early May, so we aren't sure if setting out these beauties later than normal will have a positive or negative effect on their growth.

Let's begin with the exotic-looking Aretes Upright.


I select this particular plant for its delicate, colorful blooms.  After planting it, though, the Aretes produces flowers only one more time!  Yes, it grows, but this is what it looks like in late September.


A disappointment?  Only if we expect the plant to do something it was never intended to do.

Next up, the begonias!


There are two in this pot, but one grows like the proverbial weed, and the other, though it bravely blooms, remains the runt of the litter.


I have to admit, though, the begonias have methodically produced flowers over these past four months.

I buy two double impatiens because my experience with them in the past has been nothing but spectacular.


Not so this year!  See all those bud clusters above?  Dropped off!  Every last one of them.  Then, it seems to take forever for either plant to produce any sort of lasting flower.  Talk about making us impatient!  But about the beginning of September, these late bloomers come to life.


But the star of the deck show is the intrepid Summer Wave Bouquet.


This is the way it looks when we first plant it; just look at it now!


Glorious purple flowers adorn the delicate stems consistently, faithfully.  How stunning!  How inspirational!

What, you may be thinking, do the performances of these plants throughout the Endless Summer have to do with St. Paul's description of the body of Christ?  Let's explore!

The Aretes Upright attracts the eye, captivates the heart, with its unique blossoms.  Right into the fold it comes, as my judgments are short-sighted, and the treasure is perceived in the present.  Yet, though it fails to bloom past the second round, the vine stays strong, healthy and persistent.  It is obediently completing the work God has given it, and lends us joy and a steadfast spirit through its perseverance.  

Tall or small, the begonias exemplify a quiet confidence as they blossom continuously and flawlessly from beginning to end.  Size doesn't matter.  Determination does.

The impatiens?  How many folks have you known in your life who are late bloomers?  Those for whom you pray that they would wake up and get a handle on what life is all about.  And you think, mistakenly:  Will they never make it?  What a difference these people can make in the life of the church and the community when their mission and calling at long last comes alive!  We are all blessed by their presence and contribution.

And then, there are those persons, like the reliable Summer Wave Bouquet, who never run out of encouragement that they willingly bestow upon others.  They are the breath of fresh air, the reviving drink of spiritual water, the eternal banquet never failing.  When we encounter them, we are inspired to double down on our commitment to spread the Good News of God's kingdom.

You see, even the plants can share the goodness of the God who created them, when we are willing to open ourselves to witness His hand in all His works.

Open your eyes.  Open your hearts.

Share the gifts God's given you; love and respect the gifts He has given others.

And remember, always, to bloom where you're planted.

Amen!


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

All the Right Moves


Matthew 10:39
Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Those of you who have followed this blog for any length of time know that my husband, Danny, and I love playing backgammon together.  We routinely engage in a best-of-three match every evening after dinner.  This practice has most definitely honed my skills, but there are still moves I miss from time to time, and that can cost me the win.  Danny is kind enough to point these out, after the fact, in hopes I'll become a more astute, competitive player.

But no matter how many moves I memorize, there is a random factor involved - the dice roll.  Those arbitrary cubes can make or break a game.  And lately, they have not had my best interest at heart.  How exasperating for someone like me who likes winning (don't we all?), and I can become downright petulant when mired in a losing streak.

I am venting, self-righteously, to Danny after blowing game after game, when he gently reminds me, "You never get any better by winning."

Now, does that ever take the wind out of my sails!

Because it's the truth.  Don't we learn more from our mistakes, our failures, than we do from our successes?  I'm envisioning most of you shaking your heads in the affirmative.

So, if we're willing to learn from our losses, doesn't that count as gain?

In light of Jesus' words in Matthew's gospel, yes, it most certainly does!  When we cling stubbornly to our wants, our needs, our desires, our ways, refusing to surrender them to God's will, we will surely lose everything.

But when we give every facet of our selves, our souls, to Jesus, only then can we become the persons God created us to be.  A Christ-centered life assures us that, as children of God, there are no losers.

Only winners.

No, we will never get better by winning our selfish worldly game.  But when we submit our lives to Jesus, He'll help us make all the right moves for His sake.

And unlike the dice roll, Jesus leaves nothing to chance.

Amen!

What Was Lost . . .

Matthew 18:12 What do you think?  If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the ...