Friday, May 29, 2020

The Room

Luke 5:16
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

We have a spare bedroom in our home that for months now, since granddaughter, Virginia, and her family moved away, has been empty and unloved.  It makes me feel both sad and nostalgic every time I walk by it.

But just a few days ago, God whispers a revelation:  Why don't you use this room as a place to commune with Me?  I am floored!  Why hadn't that dawned on me before?  Maybe, the Lord knew I needed time to grieve the room's loss before I could properly re-purpose it.

When I tell Virginia in our latest Face Time how I plan to use her room, she is truly delighted, glad to know it's getting the much-needed attention she always gave it.  And she lets me know, on no uncertain terms, that she can't wait to visit with us later in the summer.

Shortly after this inspirational nudge from God, I write the following poem.  I hope you enjoy it, and I pray you have a special place where you can retreat and be immersed in the Father's love.

It was a room for son
Who grew and flew the nest
Became a place for mother
Until her final rest
Refuge for the Grand
A room she called her own
Empty now, so lonely
And yet, it's not alone
Seeking solitude
Entering this space
Time well spent with God
Blessed by Love and Grace


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

More Prayer, Not Less

Matthew 18:20
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

"Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential," [President] Trump said.  "But have left out churches and other houses of worship.  It's not right.  So, I'm correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential . . . in America, we need more prayer, not less."  Source: Fox News 

I am listening to talk radio on my phone while tending to chores around the house.  The station's news reporter breaks in to alert listeners that President Trump is going to issue a statement shortly, and that they will broadcast that in lieu of scheduled programming.  Curious, I stay tuned in.

And wow!  Am I glad I do!

I don't at all expect what I'm hearing from the president, and I'm so overwhelmed with surprise and joy that before I can stop them, tears well up in my eyes and spill forth unabashedly.  Place of worship can open!!!  President Trump has once again stood up for the American people and their rights, stressing that our freedom to worship is guaranteed in our Constitution.

Now, realistically, I know not every church is adequately prepared to open its doors to corporate worship at this juncture, especially those located in heavily populated urban areas.  But certainly, there are hundreds of thousands of churches scattered throughout the country where either no or very few cases of Covid-19 exist.  Why not get together?

As for our church, Kennesaw United Methodist, the opening date of June 22 has been set by our bishop.  I don't think our pastors will buck the system.  But there have been ongoing discussions and plans put in place so that we can reopen safely at that time.  That's fantastic news!

So, for now, we will continue the online worship routine, but I will engage even more wholeheartedly in it, knowing that our rights are being defended by a caring and competent Commander-in-Chief.

President Trump is spot on, too, when he declares that our country needs more prayer, not less.  In light of the recent Memorial Day weekend, and in the weeks to come, let us vow to pray daily for our nation, and give thanks for the freedoms we have because of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect them.


Friday, May 22, 2020

The Perfect Bread

Leviticus 2:4-5
If you bring a grain offering baked in an oven, it is to consist of the finest flour; either thick loaves made without yeast and with olive oil mixed in or thin loaves without yeast brushed with olive oil.

Luke 12:1
Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying:  "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."

For years now, my husband, Danny has been on the quest for the perfect homemade bread.  A basic white bread with just the right amounts of softness and fluffiness on the inside, and the firmness of golden crust on the outside.

We both experiment with different recipes, but the manifestation of a flawless bread eludes us.

Until . . . 

Danny makes pizza dough the other day.  It's not that he hasn't made it before, but he recently discovers through his internet research that rising yeast should never come directly in contact with salt.  Does this make the difference in how the dough rises?  I believe this photo speaks for itself!

We can't believe our eyes!  Right then and there, Danny decides to use half of the dough for the pizza crust, and the other half as a bread baking experiment.  I'm all for it!

Can you see the delightful air bubbles in this pizza crust?

This truly bolsters our expectations for the bread.  And we are not disappointed.

Here's another photo of the finished loaf, all round, puffy, fluffy and proud.

So, it's no surprise to read in the Old Testament, that the grain offerings presented to God in the temple contain no yeast; flat, simple, not showy, so as not to distract the worshiper from the One to whom the sacrifice is offered.

When Jesus admonishes His followers to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, it isn't difficult to see why.  As yeast infiltrates dough and inflates it, so the Pharisees and teachers of the Law are filled with pride, self-importance, and superiority.  In their world, there isn't room for humility.

There isn't room for God . . .

As we enjoy and nourished by our beautifully risen and delectable bread, Danny and I can't help but be thankful to the Lord, the Bread of Life, Christ Jesus.  His love and grace never fail to nourish our souls.

He is our Perfect Bread!


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Come Near

James 4:8
Come near to God and He will come near to you.

I post about our neighborhood turkeys this past October.  Mother, with a not-so-little and growing one, visits our squirrel "table," relishing the bounteous supply of seed found there.  As my husband, Danny, and I observe, the two are inseparable.  The youth is often seen struggling to realize he can use his wings to mount the same fence rail his mother has just accomplished so he can follow her back into deeper woods.

He is, even as he matures, her shadow.

During their intermittent visits, both turkeys seem wary and skittish when they hear unexpected noises or see a human encroaching upon their space.  Their instincts warn them of the inherent dangers in a suburban neighborhood, no matter how many sheltering trees it has.

The arrival of spring heralds a noticeable absence of both birds.  Danny and I assume the female is nesting.  Then one day, here comes Major Tom, as we've nicknamed him, strutting through our yard all on his lonesome.

We even spot him roaming in different neighborhood yards during our walks.

He is no longer disturbed by human proximity; in fact, he seems unfazed.  Just look at him relaxing in our yard!

When Danny goes out to feed the birds the other day, Major Tom is feasting underneath the feeders.  As Danny gets closer, the turkey only takes a few steps away, and watches intently as the seeds are generously spread before him.  As soon as Danny turns his back, Major Tom is on it!  I really think that if we offered him food in a gloved hand, he would take it.

But would he really come that close up?  Trusting without a doubt that we wouldn't harm him?

In the verse above, James states that God is right there, waiting for us to come to Him, for us to make the first move.  By doing so, we can rest assured that our Lord will come close to us.  He simply wishes to be invited.

I'm reminded of these lyrics from a song our children's choir performed ages ago:

Jesus is a gentleman
Who never forces His way in.
He'll stand knocking at your door
Until you let Him in.
Jesus is a gentleman
Who waits so patiently and then
He prays you will ask Him in
To make your heart His home.*

Have you come near to Jesus?  If you haven't, will you draw near to Him today?


*Lyrics from the musical, We Like Sheep, composed by Kathie Hill

Friday, May 15, 2020

Face to Face

1 Corinthians 13:12
For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully as I am fully known.

The photo above is one we snapped during a Face Time session with my daughter, Sarah, and the grand girls, although Virginia is the only one seen here.  The little ones are more likely to come and go at rambunctious intervals, always waving or tussling with one another to get attention.  We've chosen Sunday afternoons for our video chats, and believe me, I look forward to them all week long!

Sarah also sends us photos of the girls on a regular basis.  Here are some recent shots of them enjoying the beach.  So glad they can get out and enjoy the sunshine and the sand!

While Face Time and photos provide great comfort, they also reignite the longing we feel to be with them in person.  Nothing can compare to the wrapping of little arms around you, squeezing tightly, and hearing, "I love you, Gammie" or "I love you, Papa."  If I close my eyes, and allow my thoughts to drift, I can almost feel the last hugs we share before the family departs to begin a fresh adventure in a new state.

The day will come when we can all be reunited, but for now, it's like looking at a mirrored reflection - not the real thing, but the closest we can come at the moment.

And that's how it is on the earthly side of life.  We can sense God's presence.  We see Him revealed in the little miracles all around us.  We know Him through His Word, which never fails.  Yet, we won't fully know Him, as He already knows us, until we one day stand face to face with Christ Jesus, our Lord.

His hug of welcome will be like no other . . .


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Charmed by Charmin!

Psalm 119:72
The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

Mother's Day sure was different this year, wasn't it?  Ordinarily, my husband, Danny, and I would travel down to my mother's house for the entire weekend, bearing lots of gifts, and preparing special meals for her during our stay.  But current circumstances make that impossible.

Yes, we did order Mom some special treats online, which she received and loved; that's all well and good.  And since we don't want her going anywhere she doesn't need to, especially to the grocery store, my brother, Bill, has set up an Instacart account for her.  She gives him a list each week of the items she needs, he places the order, and these are delivered right to her doorstep.

Mom has, for the most part, gotten everything she's requested.  With one exception, and I'll bet you all can guess what that is:  toilet paper!

Ahh!  The soft, heavenly commode-ity we've taken for granted for countless years has suddenly come to be more precious to us than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.  And at this point, I think many of us would be willing to pay ten times as much for it than it's worth, just to make sure we have a ready supply.

Danny attempts to locate toilet paper online so we can have it shipped directly to Mom.  Site after site after site comes up empty, but he perseveres.  Hooray!  Finally, he discovers one site where he can pre-order the paper, and the company will not charge him until it is in stock and shipped.  Sounds like a fair deal.

But after weeks of waiting, with Mom running a tad low on this necessity, Danny cancels this order and starts a fresh search.  Bingo!  This time, he hits pay dirt!

Twenty-four glorious rolls are winging their way to Mom's doorstep.  We are elated, of course, but even more so when we discover the day of their promised arrival:  Mother's Day!  Can you believe that???  What marvelous timing that is!

Who, in their wildest imagination, would have ever dreamed that a gift of toilet paper for Mother's Day would be the perfect one?  Ten times better than flowers, candy or cards.  And oh, so practical!

As for Mom, she is absolutely charmed by the Charmin.

And we are so thankful to God that we still have a mother we can treat as queen for a day, every single day.


Friday, May 8, 2020

Thank You!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

These are the times that try men's souls. ~Thomas Paine

How are you faring in these unprecedented times?  How are you feeling?  What are you thinking?  How are you coping?

My husband, Danny, and I, because of his preexisting heart troubles, and because of our age, decide it's best for us to shelter in place until the all clear is given.  In our state of Georgia, that will be in mid-June.

Oh, how far away that seems!!!


I'm guest-posting today at Cheryl's place, Homespun Devotions.  Won't you join me?

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

We Wonder, Why?

Exodus 20:3
You shall have no other gods before me.

Many of you reading this are probably old enough to remember when alluring prizes arrived in cereal boxes.  As kids, we longed for those precious toys much more than the cereal itself.  I recall when my brother and I, huge fans of Mighty Mouse, begged our Mom to purchase the brand offering such a reward.

Back in those days, my parents were on a tight budget.  That Mom even caved to our persistent desires still amazes me today.  But what surprises me more is that I can't, for the life of me, recall what cereal held this cherished gift, only the disappointment in the gift itself.

Months ago, the memory, for no reason I can fathom, emerges.  God is amazing like that, isn't He?  And out of that recollection, a poem is born.  May we have no other idols, no other longings, but to worship God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.

My Daddy plumbs for promised toy
In chaotic cereal mix
Mighty Mouse to win the day
Stunts, heroic, hurts will fix
And when the treasure is revealed
Underwhelmed, we wonder why
We hoped upon a promise false
Wonder why grace passed us by.


Friday, May 1, 2020

Walk to Emmaus

Luke 24:13
Now that same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.  The were talking with each other about everything that had happened.

The two on the walk to Emmaus
Despondent, deprived, desolate, forlorn
Until the third partner joins, and three,
Not a crowd, but comfort welcomed
With words that work to lift veil forever
Though not seen until bread breaks
Revelation in scene and sight
Transforms beyond any hope imagined
Their hope lives here in us forever.


How Could We Ask for Anything More?

  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far h...