Monday, June 29, 2020

"Doe, a Deer, a Female Deer"

Psalm 42:1
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.

A few weeks ago, as I'm finishing my morning coffee, I happen to glance out our kitchen window.  I'm surprised to see a doe laying down on our moss, and all by herself.  That's strange for two reasons - we always see female deer in pairs, and never, ever do they linger on our moss.  They much prefer the camouflaging leaves and bracken of the forest floor.

And the expression in her eyes?  I read it as one of either fear or anxiety.  What can possibly be her problem?  I wonder.  Talk about your proverbial deer in headlights!

I decide to take my shower, get dressed and then check back on the doe when I'm done.  Quietly, I step out on our deck to see if she's still there.  Yes, she is, and this time, she's not alone!  In the brief time I'm gone, the doe has given birth!  The fawn is still moist from its messy arrival, tottering clumsily on new-found legs.  I draw in a sharp breath of amazement.  That's enough to get the doe's attention; once again, the look of trepidation fills her eyes.  Not wishing to cause further consternation for her after what she's just endured, I silently and slowly retreat back into the house, regretting that I didn't have my phone with me to snap a quick, clandestine shot of mother and child.

That chance comes later in the day, fortunately, but it's Danny who takes the precious photos of the not-even-one-day-old baby with its mother.

Oh, what a thrill to witness this miracle of life!  And as I watch the doe treating her baby with such tenderness and care, I'm reminded of how God loves us so incessantly.  He wants us to draw close to Him so He can nurture us, protect us, help us to grow in His mercy and grace.

As the helpless fawn depends on its mother for physical sustenance, God wants us to depend upon Him for spiritual nourishment.  Our souls should ever and always pant for Him as a deer does for water.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Best Friend

John 15:14-15
You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father, I have made known to you.

Our eldest granddaughter, Virginia Rose, cannot recall a day in her life when the cat, Henry, wasn't a part of it.  Even through several moves, the latest one being to South Carolina, Henry has been a constant and devoted companion to everyone in the family.

But especially, Virginia.

I remember the countless times I would travel to pick up Virginia to spend the weekend; she was always adamant about saying good-bye to Henry, assuring him that she would be back soon.  I would always smile to myself as she talked to the cat, believing with all her heart that he understood every word she said.  Didn't we all, as children, think our beloved pets could translate our sentiments in their hearts?

Recently, Virginia asks her mother to send me these photos, some of Henry lounging by himself, and some with her doting over him.

Virginia truly perceives Henry as a dear friend, someone who will listen to her, love her and console her when she is feeling uncertain or afraid.  And I'm so grateful for this relationship, especially in these times of isolation due to the virus.

When the family moved to South Carolina, Virginia and her sister, Savannah, attended their new school for a mere week before all the schools were shut down.  Hardly time to make any new friends!

So, for now, Henry is friend #1 in Virginia's life.

My prayer for her, and for her two sisters, is that the day will come when they will realize who the One Friend is that they can always count on in good times and bad.

The best friend anyone could ever have.



Tuesday, June 23, 2020

When Less is More

Matthew 6:19-29
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

In recent year, society has embraced such buzz-words as "decluttering" and "downsizing."  Think of the rise in popularity of tiny house, and the international success of Marie Kondo's tips on how to tidy up your home, and get rid of things you really and truly don't need.  Streamlining and simplifying our daily lives are the goals that so many people have embraced.  And certainly, these practices are admirable in and of themselves, but can a deeper meaning and reason for minimizing have Biblical roots?

Author, Cheryl Smith, in her new book Biblical Minimalism - Following Jesus from a Life of Abundance to a More Abundant Life, would answer you with a resounding "YES!"  She recounts the journey her own family embarked upon with the goal being to rid themselves of worldly baggage, anything and everything that stood as a barrier between them and a closer, more intimate walk with Jesus.  Cheryl's engaging writing style and honest reflections immediately draw the reader into her world.  I found myself reexamining my own priorities as a Christian, and vowing to shed myself of any idols, physical, mental, and emotional, that could be stumbling blocks blocks to Jesus' desire that I humbly submit to the abundant life He offers.

Along with sharing her personal journey, Cheryl has peppered Biblical Minimalism with generous examples from Old and New Testaments, which attest to why our treasures should be stored in heaven, not on earth.  And she also gives clear guidelines as to how we, too, can approach the practice to disarm and dismiss our idols, and come to understand why less is more.  Here is how Cheryl describes the essence of Biblical minimalism:  Adopting the mind of Christ and being willing to live the kind of life He lived is what true Biblical minimalism is all about.  It is a Biblical path to peace, both in the heart and in the home, and it really is quite simple.

After you read Cheryl's book, I think you will agree with her and with me - yes, it is quite simple, and something each and every one of us can accomplish with God's help.  I guarantee you will read devour Biblical Minimalism and come away a changed person, eager to embrace a more abundant and satisfying life with the Lord!

About the author:

Cheryl Smith, with her husband, Kevin, and their son, Zach, are enjoying a Biblical minimal way of life.  She blogs regularly at her inspirational site, Homespun Devotions, where she not only writes devotionals, but conducts "Inner Views" with other Christians interested in sharing their personal testimonies.  When she isn't writing, Cheryl loves spending time with her family, visiting the mountains, and singing and playing bluegrass music.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Our God Has Promised

Galatians 5:1
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of bondage.

Life and liberty
Pursuit of happiness
Guaranteed, or is
It compromised?
What will you do?
What will you say?
To undo done
By those unhinged?
Common sense slain
Can rise from grave
Resurrect the hope
Our God has promised


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

I Can See Clearly Now

1 John 1:5
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you:  God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

My husband, Danny, and I have many things in common, but the time when we arise in the morning isn't one of them.  If I'm not up and moving around with coffee in hand before 7:30, I've overslept.  Danny?  He can sleep until 9:30 and not regret one minute of shut eye.

Now, this time gap leads to a disparity of need.  After about an hour of coffee, email checks and reflective prayer, I'm more than ready for my shower.  I never feel fully awake until I have one in the morning.  This maneuver calls for some stealthy steps on my part so I don't disturb Danny's peaceful slumber.

The bedroom is dark.  Really dark.  The shades are drawn, and the faint light that seeps in above the bathroom sink is minimal at best.  I cautiously enter the bathroom, not daring to flip the light switch until the door is quietly closed.  When I start my shower, I raise the lever up so that the cascading water makes as little splash as possible, lest I rouse the sleeping beauty.

Once the shower ends and I'm prepared to exit the bathroom, I'm mindful to turn off the light before opening the door.  Furtively, I deposit my pajamas in our hamper and silently pad, bare-footed, to my bureau to ferret out undergarments, often making wrong calls as to how these should be appropriately fitted.  A tedious effort, indeed, when one can't see clearly!

Slowly, I complete the dressing process, then head back to the wan light of the sink area to comb out my hair.  Even the sliding out of a drawer to retrieve my comb has me hoping I haven't disturbed Danny.  My eventual exit of the room displays the ancient art of the tip-toe.

Whew!  I've successfully navigated another morning in the dark, but it isn't without effort or, dare I say, inconvenience.

Because the dark is not a welcoming place.  When in it, we are immediately careful, cautious, stealthy, and hesitant.  We cannot fully see where we are going, and that in itself, is disconcerting.  We need the confidence that light brings to successfully navigate the pitfalls and dangers that could lie in wait for us if conditions are too shadowy to see them coming.

But thanks be to God that Jesus, our Lord and Savior, is the light of the world!  Through His life and His words, we can see clearly what is expected of us as believers and children of God.  In Him, there is no darkness.  No more stumbling around in a world where the evil one's obstacles threaten to thwart our every move.

In Jesus' light, we find clarity.  By it, we are encouraged in hope and faith and trust.

In Jesus, there is no darkness.

Only the promising dawn of a new day.


Friday, June 12, 2020

Without Excuse

Romans 1:20 
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Breeze whispers
Breath of prayer
Leaves shudder
Trembling joy
In the presence
Of the One
Who is known
In creation
No excuse
Do we have
Not to know


Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Desires of My Heart

Psalm 37:4
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Thank goodness that our states are finally opening up, with precautions in place, so the vast majority of Americans can leave the coronavirus lock-down behind them, and get back to living their lives as close to normally as possible.  For my husband, Danny, and me, however, it's a different story.  Danny's pre-existing heart situation convinces us to wait at least a few weeks longer before emerging from our self-induced cocoon of quarantine.

There are so many things I'm longing to do out there in the real world!  First and foremost, I would love to see my mother again, and then take a trip to South Carolina to see daughter, Sarah, son-in-law, John, and of course the precious grands.  These are my top priorities!

But there are other desires of my heart activities that I miss.  Here are just a few.

Haircut!!!  Since my stylist and dear friend, Donna, highlights and trims my hair at approximately three-month intervals, and my last visit to her was this past January, you can just imagine the state my hair is currently in.  I hoped to make an appointment for the first week in April, but then, Covid-19; you know the rest of the story.  And no, I'm not posting a photo of my shaggy ends and two-inch roots!

Church!  If you could have seen granddaughter, Virginia's, mournful countenance when I tell her during a Face Time chat that our church has cancelled VBS and all summer camps, you would have cried, too.  She was so hoping to come stay with us for several weeks this summer, and to indulge in these activities she so loves.  And I miss simply being with my church friends, worshiping as one, with joy and abandon.  Online services have been a stop gap, but they are a far cry from fitting the bill.  We all need community!

Eating out - No, this is definitely not because the fare at the Orlando Cafe, provided by Danny, is anything less than excellent.  It always is.  But he could use a break here and there.  My birthday, our wedding anniversary and Mother's Day all pass without a restaurant meal.  Now, the way things are going, it looks like Father's Day is off the table, too.  >Sigh<

Travel - Memorial Day would have marked my first time flying with Danny to visit his son, Giovanni, and wife, Hope, out in New Mexico, where he is stationed at an air force base in Albuquerque.  We haven't seen them in ages!  Honestly, I don't know when Danny will ever feel comfortable boarding a plane again.  I've never been at ease with flying, but that has nothing to do with the virus.

Those, in a nutshell, are the activities I'm missing the most.  Yet, I'm reminded each and every day to be thankful to God for all the blessings I have right here in front of me.  The time will come, down the road, when the Lord will make a way to fulfill all of my heart's desires.  Until then, I will delight in Him, and wait patiently in hope and trust.


Is your life back to "normal?"  Are there still activities you would like to do, but don't safe as yet to indulge in them?  Please share in the comments!

Friday, June 5, 2020

The "Right" Way

Proverbs 14:12
Before every man there lies a wide and pleasant road that seems right but ends in death.

I have to admit it.  I have my quirks.  Some of them are corrective impulses such as having to close bureau or kitchen drawers, and cabinet doors if they are left ajar.  Another pet peeve involves dishtowels.  It better be exactly where I left it when I go to dry another pot or pan.

Other oddities are even more deliberate and pronounced.  Especially, when it comes to how I hang up towels and sheets to dry in the fresh, breezy air.  No electric dryer for these babies!  My husband, Danny, and I aren't into the modern day affinity for silky sheets and fluffy-cloud towels.  Give us the sensations our grandparents loved!

Add to this the order in which I arrange each of these items on the line, and the photo above could appear beside the definition of "quirky" in the dictionary.

I always hang the towels first as they, obviously, take the longest to dry, and pin them on the line so their tags won't show.  Really?  Afraid so!  Next, are the pillow cases, unopened ends over the line.  Then comes the fitted sheet followed by the flat sheet.  Why?  Because when I remove the dry bedding from the clothesline, the fitted sheet, which has to go on top of the mattress, is on top.

Oh, and let's not leave out my weird clothespin ritual!  I have two sizes of wooden pins.  God forbid I should use the little ones until I've pressed all the large pins into service.  Sacrosanct!

So, there you have it.  My "right" way to hang up the laundry.

But I must confess here that my way isn't the highway, the wide and pleasant road on which everyone else has to travel.  For what is suitable to one person's needs or preferences surely isn't one-size-fits-all.  If I had Danny hang up the sheets and towels, I'm sure he'd have an entirely different system of deployment.

We all have our little, or large, idiosyncrasies, don't we?  As long as we acknowledge that they belong to us alone, and not attempt to foist our habits onto someone else, we can confidently go upon our merry way, minding our own business.

Yet, this also reminds us that as Christians, who would love nothing better than for those who don't know Jesus as Lord and Savior, to choose to turn to Him, there is nothing we can do forcibly to convince them that His Way is the road to life.  Yes, we can love them, pray for them, invite them to attend church with us, but like leading the proverbial horse to water, we can't make them drink.

We know the wide and pleasant road they are on leads to death.  May God open their eyes to His Truth before it's too late.

And we keep praying that the lost will be found.


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Puzzle It Out!

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

I am, most definitely, a book lover!  This long period of isolation has afforded me more time than ever for reading; in fact, my list of completed books for 2020 is almost as long as my entire list was in 2019.  And this is only June!

But as much as I enjoy reading, I can't do it 24/7.  I need a distraction of a different sort.  So, early in the quarantine, I order the Jumble Anniversary pictured above.  Tackling the word puzzles has been both fun and frustrating.

Some words, I'll unscramble right off the bat.  Others, not so quickly.  Sometimes, I'll get the answer to the puzzle even when I can't successfully decode the words in which the answer letters are couched.

I try not to peek at the key in the back of the book when a word eludes me.  Instead, I go back to it the next day, and possibly, even the next, until something clicks in my brain, and voila!  Problem solved!  And it makes me wonder why figuring out that particular word was a struggle in the first place.

The same type of circumstances can arise when we are reading our Bibles.  Perhaps, we don't see in the verses the message God is trying to give us.  We scratch our heads in bewilderment, or we simply can't relate meaningfully to what is being said.

Miraculously, though, the next time we encounter that same passage, it speaks volumes to us.  How did we miss the now obvious lesson before, we wonder?

God's word is alive and active, ever ready to speak to our hearts and minds.  But whether or not we allow it to do so depends on us.  We may be in a place of uncertainty and doubt.  We might have recently experienced a life-changing crisis.  Or maybe, we are momentarily distracted and unfocused, something we should never be in the presence of God's message.

My advice to you?  Check the state of your heart and thoughts before you sit down to read your Bible.  Pray that the Lord would open your eyes to His truth and wisdom.  Wait expectantly for God's Word to penetrate your soul and spirit.

Because assuredly, He will help you puzzle it out!


Sing a New Song

  Danny and I in his new music studio Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. ~Psalm 96:1 A new song shall I sing unto...