Monday, September 28, 2020

Hope

 


So, the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth. ~Job 5:16


We are silent

For now

The threats

Too incredible

To bear

But at polls

Our voices

Will ring out

For justice

And mercy

For hope

Not denied

From the One

Who gives hope

Eternally

We will trust

And believe

We will live

In promised land

And forefathers

Will rejoice

In the offering


Amen!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

A Special Gift

 


There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. ~1 Corinthians 12:4-5

Our oldest granddaughter, Virginia Rose, has always loved to draw.  We can tell by the time she is five that she has a blossoming gift for art.  Although she still creates many drawings using pencil and paper, Virginia's latest passion is using the program, IbisPaintX, to create characters and objects on her tablet.

Virginia uses her finger to do both the outlines of her drawings, and to color them in.  When she sends some of these to her Papa and me, we are both duly impressed.  I tell Virginia that I would like to feature her art in a blog, and she is beside herself with excitement!  Promptly, she forwards me the drawings she considers to be her favorites.  All those featured here are original works.









Now, these might be Virginia's favorites, but the following one is mine.  She does admit that she used a tutorial to get the eye just right, but tutorial or not, I think this is pretty stunning.


Yes, it seems God has blessed our granddaughter with a special and exceptional gift, one I hope she'll continue to pursue and develop as time goes on.  May Virginia, and her talent, grow in the grace and love of the Lord!

Amen!

Monday, September 21, 2020

It's Late

 


John 8:44

When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Poems usually occur to me in one fell swoop, and I choose to go with the words I'm hearing in that moment.  I know I'm not the only one troubled by these turbulent times.  As Christians, we've been under attack like never before in the history of our country, whose Constitution guarantees religious freedom and the right to worship.  We've had to close our churches during this pandemic, while weed and liquor-selling businesses get to stay open.  There are more examples I could offer here, but I won't.

Instead, may the words of this poem reveal to you how the father of lies wishes to keep us quiet, sedated, asleep, as he performs his vile works in this world.  He will tell us we do not matter, that we have no hope, but we know differently.  Jesus has overcome the world, of this we are certain, but we can't afford to stop fighting for His message, and our rights.

Believers, awake!  Do not submit to worldly ambitions, but let the Lord make sure we are not lulled and disheartened by the devil's schemes.


It's late

Go to bed

Don't awake

Until we say

You can

Because we know

And you don't

Stay quiet

Seal your lips

Close your eyes

Sleep, sleep

Until we say

Power is ours

Never yours

Not again

Never, never

Will you hold

Your precious own

Because we are

And you are not


Amen

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Adorned and Adored

 


Ezekiel 16:11-12

I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head.

All our oldest granddaughter, Virginia Rose, wants for her tenth birthday is to get her ears pierced.  Of course, as you can deduce from the photo above, her mom and dad grant her that wish.  Aren't these cute little studs she chooses?

I tell Virginia that as soon as her ears heal properly, I'll send her some of my costume jewelry earrings that I no longer wear to adorn her ears.


Now, I can see some of you scratching your heads and wondering, "Why does Martha have these silly, holiday-themed earrings?"  Welcome to the world of teaching!  I discover early on how much the kids appreciate the fact that their teachers like to celebrate the holidays just as much as they do.  They especially get a kick out of the Halloween sets.

And why the tiny kitties?  In the last middle school where I taught, we were the "Wildcats," hence my penchant for all things feline.  I'm really grateful I hung onto these because cats are Virginia's favorite animal, and the small size is perfect for her ears.

Speaking of cats, here is the note card I send along in the mailer with the earrings.


I find this set of cards featuring air-born kittens on Amazon, and enjoy sending a different one to Virginia every chance I get.


And here is what I write to her:


My hunch is that Virginia will gravitate toward the kitty earrings more than any of the others.

One day when she's older, and a bit more responsible with her belongings, I'll send some real earrings for her to treasure.  Or better yet, give them to her in person.  Oh, how I miss all my granddaughters!


I do hope that whenever Virginia wears any of the earrings I sent to her, she will think about her Gammie, and remember how much both her Papa and I adore her.

And let us never forget how much God adores each one of us, and longs to adorn us with His blessings.

Amen!

Monday, September 14, 2020

The Least of These

 


Matthew 25:40

And the King will answer and say to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me."

Even before the recent lock-down due to the virus, my husband, Danny, habitually orders things he needs on the internet.  Amazon, of course, is his main source for many of these products.  So, imagine our surprise, not to mention our amusement, when these arrive at our doorstep a few weeks ago.


This is a puzzler, indeed!  The carton is correctly addressed to Danny, so the delivery person is not at fault, but how did it happen?  And what are we going to do with diapers???

"I know," I tell him as a light bulb goes off in my head.  "Let's donate them to our church's Foster Care Ministry!"

"That's a perfect solution," Danny agrees.

This week, we will take the diapers, along with some workbooks I ordered for the youngest grands, but mistakenly had shipped here instead of to their new home, and some assorted, gently-used toys that our granddaughters have long outgrown.


How did our church get started in the Foster Care Ministry?  Our previous associate pastor, Lindsey, and her husband, Kris, became foster parents while working at the church.  Lindsey was well aware of the potential financial struggles foster parents face when they agree to take a child (they took two, a brother and sister) to live in their home.  Even though here in Georgia, foster parents receive some support dollars, it isn't normally enough to really provide for all of that child's needs.

So, Lindsey initiated this program at church where our parishioners donate items to help foster parents give little extras to the children in their care.  The ministry is not limited to our own members, but open to the community, too, as a much-needed resource.

As of July 1st of this year, it is estimated that almost 12,000 children are in the foster care system in the state of Georgia alone.  That boggles my mind!  The good news is, many of these children find forever homes with the families who foster them.  That is exactly what Lindsey and Kris were able to do with their beloved foster children!

Do you have a foster care ministry at your church or in your community?  If so, I hope you will choose to make regular donations to keep it going.

For whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Jesus.

Amen!


Thursday, September 10, 2020

It's a Hairy Situation!

 


Matthew 10:30
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Yes, the photo above is my hair, which hasn't seen a touch-up of highlights or a trim for over six months.  And what are my fingers marking?  That's the usual length of my locks under normal circumstances.  But what is normal anymore?  I'd love nothing better than to be able to pay a visit to my hair stylist, and good friend, Donna, but the risks of entering a salon, at least for me, are still too high.

Yet, I'm amazed that my hair hasn't shown more wear and tear over these months.  Only now am I beginning to be aware of the ends threatening to fray and split.  I'm hoping these guys will hang in there in the interim.

No, I'm not being compensated for showing you this product, Uniq-1, but I truly believe that this has been the deciding factor in my hair's relatively undamaged look.


After I shampoo, I spray this on my wet hair; it works as both a conditioner and a detangler, hence a deterrent to losing hair when combing it out as it protects the ends.

I must make a confession here:  Although I'm not particularly vain about my looks, or lack thereof, my hair has always been the exception.  And on more than one occasion, I've asked God to forgive me for this unhealthy fixation.  You know what?  I think He has wisely chosen this time of isolation and hair growth to do just that!

As I'm unable to change anything about it just now, I've come to accept, and appreciate, my hair for what it is.  Just another aspect of the physical me.  Nothing special.

Yet, knowing that God cares enough to number the hairs on all of our heads, reminds me how deeply He loves and cares for us, even in the smallest of details.

No matter how we might appear to others, we can rest assured that, in God's sight, we are precious!

Amen!

Monday, September 7, 2020

In My Name

 


Exodus 20:7

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. (NKJV)

As Christians, we are certainly familiar with the Ten Commandments.  But have we ever taken the time to delve more deeply into how these commandments are relevant to our 21st Century way of life?

Author Marja Verschoor-Meijers has done just that in her new book about the third commandment entitled In My Name.  I love her own apt description of the book's objective, which can be found at her website.

'Lord' is not a word to end our sentences with when we talk to Him, nor is it a filler to make our prayers sound more holy and authentic.  'Lord' is His personal revelatory name and He gave it to us for use on a daily basis.

It is one thing to claim we don't use the Lord's name in vain, but what do we do?  Are we bringing honor to His name?  Do we have a genuine love for His name?  And most of all, is everything we do and say then, done in His name?

In My Name consists of sixteen short, but power-packed chapters that will help you to thoroughly explore the meaning and nuances of the third commandment.  Marja concludes each chapter with invitations to "Meditate on the Following" and "Journal Your Thoughts," making this book a perfect partner for personal devotional time, a Bible study or a Sunday school class.

I must admit that in my eagerness to get this review written, I read through In My Name all too quickly.  So, I'm planning to reread it slowly and intentionally, taking one chapter a day, and spending time on both meditating over the concept presented and journaling my thoughts.  Marja's down-to-earth, approachable prose makes me immediately comfortable with the content; it is almost as if I were in the same room with Marja as she shares her wisdom and insights out loud.  How many devotional books have made you feel that way?

You can order In My Name at Marja's website.  While you are there, please check out the other titles she has penned.  And don't forget to take a look at her marvelous blog, Fresh Insights on Ancient Truths.  It's definitely one you will want to subscribe to!

(Some readers were having problems with the link to Marja's website.  Here it is:  www.marjameijers.com)

About the Author

Marja was born and raised in Holland.  As a child, she was fascinated by authors who divided their time between two countries.  Today, she is one of them!  For years she and husband, Jan, divided their time between Holland and Southern California where Jan worked as a race car technician in off-road racing, and Marja started her writing journey.  She is the author of several books published in the USA as well as in the Netherlands.  She writes her books in both languages.  Her monthly columns appear in one of Holland's biggest Christian magazines.  Together with her husband, she is the founder of Traveling Light, a non-profit organization that seeks to provide practical, financial and spiritual encouragement to Christian initiative all over Europe and the Middle East.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Clowning Around

 

Proverbs 17:22

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up all the bones.

Virginia, Savannah and Alexandra are three of the happiest girls I know.  All summer long, they have enjoyed each other's company (though Virginia's patience wears thin on occasion), playing games and going to the beach with Mom and Dad.  As school has been closed since last April, it has been an endless summer, indeed!

Most of you know that we spend countless hours with Virginia as she is growing up.  All those memories are priceless ones, where we truly got to know our granddaughter on every possible level.  Not so much with her younger sisters.  Yes, I did quite a bit of babysitting while the family was still living nearby, but there weren't many all-day visits or even the occasional weekend overnight.

So, though we "know" Savannah and Alexandra, we don't know them in the intimate way we do Virginia.  We are relying on their photos and our weekly FaceTime chats to reveal their budding personalities.  My daughter, Sarah, recently shares these photos with us.


Savannah has such a winning smile, and you can tell by the photo how close she feels to her mother.  We remember her as the sister who is the first to whine and cry at some perceived injustice; not always pleasant to be around!  But in these next two pictures, Savannah displays a remarkable penchant for clowning around!




Who would ever have guessed that Savannah would become a photo-bomber!  Oh, how Danny and I laugh when we first see these pictures as her comical expressions cheer our hearts.

The girls will be starting back to school after Labor Day.  It will be Alexandra's first foray into the classroom as she begins kindergarten.  While I'm excited for her, and all my girls, this thought crushes my spirit:  All children are required to wear masks right along with the adults in the building.  I'm saddened to think that Alexandra's first memories of school won't include seeing smiles on the faces of her teachers and fellow students.  And I'm concerned that mask wearing could detract from the ability to concentrate on learning.

The few occasions when I've had to wear a mask, I've experienced nothing but discomfort.  But I can't project my own experience onto theirs.  Kids are so much more flexible than adults, aren't they?

And if there is a plus side to any of this, at least when she's wearing a mask, Savannah won't get called out for making silly faces at inappropriate moments.  Clowning around is one thing, but being the class clown is quite another!


Amen!

Monday, August 31, 2020

I Want to See a Rainbow!



Genesis 9:11
I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

Isn't this rainbow spectacular?  My daughter, Sarah, snaps it from their backyard in South Carolina, and promptly sends it to me.  It isn't often that we see an arc as perfect as this one, with its "twin" shadowed above it.  Whenever I am blessed to see a rainbow, I'm always reminded of God's eternal covenant promise to us.

When our oldest granddaughter, Virginia, is little, she is fascinated by rainbows.  Every time she would sit down with paper and a box of crayons, I could bet dollars to donuts that a picture of a rainbow would emerge.  She must have drawn dozens of them, but I could only find this one in my collection of her art work to show you.  These were created when she was six-years-old.



I share with Virginia, when she is only four, the story in the Bible where the rainbow becomes God's sign of promise never again to destroy the earth by a flood.  She is duly impressed, her eyes widening with new wonder.

"Gammie," she says, "I want to see a rainbow.  Will you take me to see a rainbow one day?"

I chuckle at this.  "If I could, I would, Virginia.  But rainbows happen when we least expect them.  We simply have to be in the right place at the right time."

"And what's the right time and place?"  she queries.

"When the skies are clearing after a rainstorm, but it's still raining.  The sun shines on those raindrops and presto!  You have a rainbow!"

Virginia sighs.  "I still wish I could see one today."

"I know you do," I say.  "But keep hoping, honey, and one day down the road, it will happen.  Just have faith."

Virginia may have had to wait six years for her wish to be fulfilled, but when it finally is, what a splendid reward for her!  She is beside herself with awe and excitement, and tells me so herself in a text.  I ask her if she recalls what she longed for so many moons ago, and of course, she does.  What a memory she has!

So, my friends, if you feel in these troubled times that the storms are relentlessly gathered around you, dark and menacing, I pray you will cling to the hope of the rainbow's eventual manifestation, bright and beckoning, bold and colorful.

Our heavenly reminder of God's perpetual promises and His unfailing presence in our lives.

He answered Virginia's prayer, and He will answer yours.

Amen!




Friday, August 28, 2020

Caterpillar Time!



Psalm 34:19-20
The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.

It's August, and that means caterpillar time!  This year, the ravenous little creatures locate themselves in the oak tree above our back deck.  The evidence of their existence drops from the sky and peppers the deck's surface.


What a mess!

Within weeks of the unwanted arrival of caterpillar scat, something else descends onto the deck.  The caterpillars themselves!


Perhaps too satiated from their constant feasting, they can no longer cling to their homes in the leaves.

Most alarming, though, is the thudding sound these creatures make when they hit the deck with a sickening whack.  Oof!  They lie there, stunned and still for up to hours, leaving us to wonder if they are going to rouse from their stupor, or simply give up the ghost right there.

But God has imbued them with a resiliency that is nothing short of miraculous.  As we observe the seemingly dead forms, we see a twitch here, a raised head there, and before we know it, the caterpillars are cruising along the deck without a care in the world, and no worse for wear.

There are those times in our lives as Christians when bad news knocks the wind out of us, leaving us stunned and immobile, feeling hopeless and helpless in light of our situation.  But God won't leave us broken and alone.  He is right there with us to comfort, to heal, to restore us to fullness of life once again.  Sure, it might take some time, a lot more time than it does for our little friends on the deck, but healing will happen when we invite the light of Jesus to shine within us.

The Lord will certainly deliver us.

Amen!




Monday, August 24, 2020

Sing to the Lord a New Song



Psalm 96:1-3
Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

For thirteen years, my husband, Danny, leads the contemporary service at our church.  Once we marry in 2005, I am privileged to join the band, mostly offering alto harmony, and occasionally, contributing an added guitar, percussion instrument, or lead voice.

So, why have I not touted the site where our recordings are preserved before now?

That question begs an answer.  One I'm beginning to understand to its fullest.

In these days and times, when in-person church is being denied in many parts of our country, and around the world, Christians are hungry and thirsty for reassurance and consolation as each uncertain day is greeted by a, "What now, Lord?"  All of us are seeking to be built up in the faith, to know that, even at a distance, we can be spiritually nourished and sustained.

One of my recent I-miss-my-mom-I-miss-my-daughter-my grands-my son-in-law-my-step-boys moments compel me to return to the inspirational songs we offered every week, be it years ago, at our Sunday praise services.  And you know what?  All those God-praising songs began to make a seismic shift in my outlook, my hope, my faith.

Perhaps, God had a reason to withhold my sharing with you for a time such as this.

Friends, if you are needing to rejoice, to celebrate, to be uplifted in these dark days, I invite you to visit the Crossroads' website. You can listen to our songs in order, or skip through the library to select the song you desire to listen to.  It's as simple as that!

Danny and I both recommend a first song to listen to:  "All My Fountains" (Chris Tomlin) from the year 2012.  Our drummer, David, just nails it.  Talk about energy!


And as you browse and notice songs like "Jingle Bell Rock" or "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," please don't be alarmed.  I rewrote the lyrics to contain an irrefutable Christian message.  I would love to know your reaction to these!

Actually, what I would truly love, is to hear that having these recordings in your life inspire you to keep on keeping on in your faith journey, trusting that the Lord will provide, and that He will give you the strength and courage to meet the needs of every day you are blessed to live.

Let us never tire of praising the Lord and encouraging each other.

May we sing to the Lord a new song!


Amen!

In case you have trouble accessing our website, here is the direct link.
Blessings!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Rejoice!

 


Romans 12:15
Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.

Pictured above are our three granddaughters; Virginia is in the middle with Savannah to her left and Alexandra on her right.  They sure look happy, don't they?  And they have every reason to rejoice.  The are enjoying a long overdue visit with their Grandpa and Kiki in North Carolina a few weeks ago.  While we are over eight hours away from where the girls reside with mom and dad in South Carolina, it makes perfect sense, as time is limited, for them to make a three-hour jaunt instead.

Here are some photos my daughter, Sarah, shares from their time there.

Alexandra and Savannah on the porch,


and on the porch swing.


Can you see where Savannah has lost her first tooth?



Virginia striking a classic pose.


Besides spending time with their grandparents, Savannah and Alexandra enjoy to company of the two dogs, Lucy and Bella.





While we are so happy that the girls are having a marvelous time, and getting to know their Grandpa and Kiki better, I'd be lying if I said we aren't mourning the fact that it isn't us they're visiting.  This Covid cloud hangs threateningly over my husband, Danny, and I more than most.  Right now, travel is not an option for us.  And it's hard to hold out hope when no certain end is in sight.

Yet, hope, we will, knowing that God's got this in His most capable hands.

We will choose to rejoice in the moment, not mourning what might have been.

Isn't that the best way to live each and every day?

Amen!

Monday, August 17, 2020

God's Intentions

 


Ephesians 6:1
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.


Lately, I inordinately wish
All would know, speak truth in love
That they would submit, kneeling only
To the only One, of worship, worthy
He who was and is, and is to come
Reticence and retreat are not
The answer.  Armor stands, strong, ready
Don it in full, display the cause
Without fear, without doubt, boldly
Venture into the den of vipers, thieves
Because you know that nothing in heaven or earth
Can separate you from God's intentions.

Amen!

May God give all of you a blessed week!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

How Have I Been so Blessed?

 

Ephesians 1:3
Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

How have I been so blessed
To have this life
To be life
Released from all knowing
Falling gratefully
Into the current of the infinite
~Galen Pearl at No Way Cafe 

Every spiritual blessing . . . Are we giving thanks to the One who saves?  The Lord that gives life eternal and infinite hope?

When I read this poem by my friend, Galen, I immediately see the contrast between life's daily struggles and uncertainties juxtaposed with the solid, unchanging promises of God throughout the ages.

Do you recall those rope courses, often set up by companies wishing to cement the relationships between employees and employers, or churches attempting to highlight the importance of trust in their congregations?  I certainly do!  The first time I had the courage to let go of the rope, placing my trust in the arms that promised to break my fall, was humbling to say the least.

My faith increased in the very moment those willing hands caught me, firmly and gently.

How much more, then, will God catch us in His everlasting arms whenever we stumble and fall?  When the vagaries of life threaten to derail us from the purpose He intends, are we willing to flow with the current of His infinite love?

In these difficult days, as we cope with this omnipresent virus, may we always remember that God holds us securely and gracefully in His saving, embracing and loving arms.

He wants us to be released from the fiction of all-knowing.

Free to have life.

To be life for others.

Amen!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Weighing In

 


Proverbs 11:1
The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.

This past week, I have a wellness check scheduled with my doctor via the Tele-Health system.  What a relief it is to have that technology!  Since I wasn't going to be physically present, I decide to take my blood pressure and temperature, then head downstairs to the scale.

I must tell you that, even though we have a scale, I'm not one to use it.  I've held steady for years at what I consider an acceptable weight, so I in no way expect the unfamiliar numbers flashing at me.

What???  I've gained five pounds?  Since January?

This truly comes as a shock.  I mean, my pants still fit, so what's up with that?  Hold on - am I not tightening the belt where I once did?  I question the accuracy of the scale, but my husband, Danny, who weighs himself regularly, assures me that it is correct.  He even admits to thinking that I might be getting a bit thicker in the waistline, "But I'd never have said anything, Martha, because you still look great to me!"

Smart man.

Anyway, when I tell my doctor about the weight gain, he doesn't seem alarmed in the least, chalking it up to Covid-19 inactivity (which I'm sure does count for some of it as we only got our treadmill and weights at the end of July), and suggests that I could be retaining water, too.  It's a common side effect of the medicine he's prescribed for me.  I'm skeptical about that; I'm more inclined to believe that I really need to make good and frequent use of our exercise equipment.

And the extra pounds I'm currently carrying?  I'm not overly concerned.  For years, I've thought I don't weigh enough for my height and age.  So, if I can convert the extra bulge to muscle, and stay around the new weight, I'm fine with that.

I know the scale will keep me honest.

Amen!

Hope

  So, the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth. ~Job 5:16 We are silent For now The threats Too incredible To bear But at polls Our...