Thursday, September 23, 2021

Happy Fall, Y'all!

 

He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others.  He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. ~Daniel 2:21

The first day of fall here in Georgia is usually marked by the calendar only.  Warm summer temperatures are known to linger on through October, not without a chillier day here and there, but the invitation to break out the warm and cozy sweaters is a long time coming.

Not this year!

Precisely on the advent of autumn, the day begins in the 70s.  It is cloudy and humid, typical of summer weather this time of year.  Then, out of the blue, a cold front descends, heralded by brisk and gusty winds that drive rain before it with urgency.  I step outside in my short sleeves to listen to my wind chimes ringing in the playful breeze.  Ahh!  This is wonderful!

I return to our deck an hour later, still in my summer garb.  WHAT???  I jump back inside and scramble for my jacket.  In sixty minutes' time, the temperature has plummeted from a balmy 74 to a chilly 63 degrees!  Fall arrives with a precision I've never before experienced, and I'm truly astonished.

But should I be surprised?

It is God alone who changes the times and the seasons as He sees fit.  He doesn't go by human calendars or expectations.  Yet, I believe that the Lord takes great pleasure in delighting His children with the unexpected, the unprecedented, the unpredictable.

We are reminded, once again, that God is the One in control, always and everywhere.  And in all humility, we should worship and praise Him for all the good things He has done, and all He will bless us with in the future.

So, in my long sleeves and comfy sweater, I welcome fall with warm and open arms, just as God's arms are ever open to embrace us.

Amen!

Monday, September 20, 2021

A Book Review and Give-Away!

 


They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. ~Acts 2:42

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you know that I don't do many book reviews.  That is because an author's words and writing style must sincerely resonate in my heart before I can, in good conscience, recommend a book to others, knowing they are in for a rewarding read.

Cheryl E. Smith's latest book, Homespun Devotions - Volume One, more than meets that criteria.  It goes above and beyond!

This collection of devotional readings is penned from Cheryl's own life experiences with family, friend, colleagues, and most importantly, how her love for the Lord colors all her relationships.  Her down-to-earth, personal recollections are inspiring and insightful, and when you read them, you feel like you are in the presence of a long-time friend, who is always glad to see you, and ever willing to open her heart to you over a cup of coffee and honest conversation.

How did Cheryl come to write this book?  I'll let her explain in her own words:

When I began blogging, my dream was to write a book called Homespun Devotions.  Over the years, I have come to long for the Dream Giver more than the dream.  The publishing of this book is the Dream Giver handing me my dream.

If you're searching for the perfect devotional book to add to your daily study of God's Word, look no further than this perfect gem.  Best of all, Cheryl is giving a copy of Homespun Devotions away to one lucky person who leaves a comment here on Meditations of My Heart.  Such a deal!

Comments qualifying for the give-away must be submitted here no later than Tuesday, September 27th.  I will announce the winner on the following Friday.

My hope and prayer for all of you who don't win the drawing is that you will order Cheryl's book, one for yourself, and one to give to a friend.  It is guaranteed to be a gift they will cherish.

About the Author -


Cheryl E. Smith is the author of the book Biblical Minimalism: Following Jesus from a Life of Abundance to a More Abundant Life.  She blogs at www.Biblical Minimalism.com, where she writes about minimalism from a Biblical perspective, and www.HomespunDevotions.com, where she writes devotionals and conducts "Inner Views."  She loves to spend time with her husband and son in the mountains, sing and play bluegrass music, and write.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Family Fun!

 


He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction. ~Malachi 4:6

We've heard it said, time and time again, that family is everything.  So true!  When God created us in His own image, it was His command that we should be fruitful and multiply, with children being our future, to carry on His commandments concerning how we live lives that glorify Him both in the present, and in the generations to come.

So, when my daughter, Sarah, sends these photos to me, my heart sings and rejoices that this family is staying strong, loving one another, and enjoying time together in God's splendid creation.  They are visiting Umstead State Park, which is practically in their backyard, where they now live in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Let's join them for this adventure, shall we?


Virginia


Savannah


Alexandra


Finn!


Clowning around!



Sarah and Virginia - She sure loves her Mommy!


Snaggle-toothed Alexandra and Mommy


Savannah with Finn and Daddy


My beautiful daughter and her husband, John

I'm so thankful for the ways in which Sarah and John care so deeply for one another, and are teaching their precious girls to appreciate and honor all the gifts the Lord has given to them.  My prayer is that the family will continue to grow in love for God and for one another.

Amen.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Count It All as Loss

 


Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her. ~Mark 14:9

The photo above depicts garbage bags filled with clothes that my husband, Danny, and I plan to donate to Goodwill.  Yes, we've spent the last several days down at Mom's house in Oxford, attempting to clean out all the closets brimming with clothes, shoes, purses, and other items worthy of a give-away.  And as many bags as you see here, half that many are assigned to the throw-away category.  That's how worn and unusable they are.

We end up with this much only because my mother couldn't bear to part with Dad's possessions after he passed in 2014.  Of course, she did give items of clothing to my son, Daniel, who was the same size at the time, but the rest stayed hidden away as if awaiting his coming back to life.

It breaks my heart just as much to have to donate Dad's belongings, including a spanking-new tuxedo outfit, as it does my mom's.  I feel like I'm experiencing his passing all over again.

While I go through closets, drawers and a large armoire that we would like to have, Danny tackles two cedar chests, and collects and organizes DVDs/VCR recordings so that my brother, Bill, can determine what he wishes to keep or throw away.  He also gathers up the hangars the clothes hung on to donate to a dry cleaner.


I remember my Mom asking me years ago what one thing I would like to have of hers once she passes.  Of course, I didn't like to hear her talk like that, even though the reality is inevitable.  I tell her I want this sweater knitted by my father's sister, Mary Jane.


If you look closely, you can see the coffee stains on it.  I'm hoping that with some treatment and tender loving care, I can restore the sweater to its original integrity.

Pouring through all these many items evokes memories that will ever remain with me.  Exhausted and overwhelmed after a day of purging, this poem comes to be.

The house stands too empty without her

Yet rife with tangible objects, clutter

Shelves and drawers, closets overflow

Call for hands to cull and just let go

Worldly items, count it all as loss

Memories, the treasure not to toss

There is no earthly treasure that can take the place of precious memories.  May we, like the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus, do for others in this life as unselfishly and lovingly as she did for the One who saves our souls, not our possessions.

Lord, help me, help us all, to let go of what doesn't matter in the eternal perspective.

Amen.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Lost and Found

 


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


It is in the losing that we find

It is in the finding, we become

In becoming, we begin to see

All that God has yearned for us to be

Amen

Monday, September 6, 2021

Vacation Time!

 


Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. ~Matthew 11:28

All of us need time for rest and relaxation in order to stay balanced, mentally, physically and spiritually.  That's why I'm so glad that my daughter, Sarah, son-in-law, John, and the three girls were able to join John's parents and his sister's family for a week's vacation at Corolla Beach in North Carolina.

Let's join them there, shall we?


John, Sarah, Virginia, Savannah, and Alexandra



Enjoying the pool!


L to R:  Virginia, Alexandra and Savannah




Fun at the beach!


Virginia with her Aunt Susan.  Can you see the family resemblance?  I sure can!


A bit hazy, but here's the whole gang.  Susan's husband, Rantz, took this shot of parents, Paul and Karen, Susan, and cousins Griffin and Edie.


The kids really hit it off.  So did Finn and Murphy!




Yes, there are many more photos I could share, but I think this last one of Savannah sums up the marvelous time they all had.



Sheer joy!

I do hope this photo-journal post has lifted your spirits today, my friends.  And remember, when you need a break from this wearisome world laden with burdens, run to Jesus.  He will always, always give you rest.

Amen!

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Inner Views and a Give-Away!

 


Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone? ~Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12

What would any of us do without our friends?  I didn't know on that day I met Cheryl at Homespun Devotions in Blogland that friends are exactly what we would become.  So, when Cheryl approached me to do an Inner View with her on her blog, I was delighted beyond measure.

Many of my readers here are new ones, and you may not yet be acquainted with my novels, or know much about me.  For both new and forever readers here, Cheryl offers and in-depth interview with me, which includes memories of my childhood and the life experiences which shaped the writing of The Glade Series and Adventures in The Glade.  To read this inner view, visit Cheryl's blog here!

Best of all, if you leave Cheryl a comment, you will be automatically entered to win all the novels in The Glade Serie and Adventures in The Glade!  Already have copies?  Enter again anyway!  You can always bless someone else with some wholesome, Christian-themed stories.

While you're there, please share this blog to your social media feeds, and sign up to receive Homespun Devotions in your inbox.  I guarantee that Cheryl will soon become your friend, too!

Love and blessings to all!

Monday, August 30, 2021

Unbroken Circles

 


Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life.  The one who believes in m will live, even though they die." ~John 11:25

Pictured above is the memorial in Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta to Kenny Rogers.  If you hover over the photo, you can see that the inner lettering states, "Will the Circle be Unbroken."

I must tell you that since my mother passed away, this song has played in my head on a daily basis.  If you are not familiar with it, I've linked to one of my favorite versions at the end of this post.  Let it suffice to say that, in listening repeatedly to this song, this poem emerged.

Unbroken circles whirling

In heart and soul and mind

Promise of reunion

With no one left behind

Joyful presence entered

A peace forever won

Rejoice in everlasting

Life is never done

Amen





Thursday, August 26, 2021

May Peace Be Our Gift

 


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. ~Matthew 6:19-20

I love receiving greeting cards of all kinds, no matter what the occasion.  And certainly, I so appreciate all the sympathy cards that come our way after Mom's passing.  They are still on display, and will be for several more weeks.  After that?  Well, as I do with Christmas cards once Epiphany begins, I recycle them.

Honestly, I simply don't like clutter.  And if I saved each and every card I ever got, where in the world would I store them?  Would I ever dig them out to read them all over again?  The short answer is "no."  So, out they go.

With the exception of cards from my husband, Danny, none are retained.  That is until I receive this Christmas greeting last December from my mother.


This arrives before vaccinations against Covid are available, and we haven't been able to spend time in person for months, with the few exceptions of keeping our physical distance from Mom when we go to her house to deliver a load of frozen meals that Danny has lovingly prepared for her.  I'm sure many of you suffered the same frustration in not being able to see your loved ones during the pandemic.

This is what Mom writes inside:


May we all celebrate soon . . .

That phrase strikes a chord deep within me.  I hold the card tightly, reading this brief but poignant sentence over and over.

Then a startling, unwelcome realization hits.  This might be the last Christmas card we ever see from Mom.  I don't want to think it, or believe it, but instinctively, I know this to be true.  It has become more and more evident that she is slipping, physically and cognitively.  I have to face the probability that my intuition is correct.

Sadly, it is.

But from the moment I read this card, I know it's a keeper.  It now serves as a bookmark in my current daily devotional.  Always accessible, always available to read and reread as the years roll on.

May peace be our gift . . .

Mom, you have received that gift in full.

Now, celebrate!

Amen!

Monday, August 23, 2021

God's Treasure

 


For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. ~Psalm 66:10

When it comes to deciding which items in my mother's house to keep or discard, my brother, Bill, and I have only brushed the tip of the iceberg.  We not only have to claim what we would like, or even have room for in our respective homes, but also check with our children as to which paintings/books/knickknacks/furniture each one of them would value for themselves.

I am poking around inside a hutch in Mom's dining room when I discover this sterling silver cup.


Instantly, I realize, this isn't just any silver cup, but was presented to my grandmother's parents when she, Gladys, was born.  If you can discern in spite of the tarnish, here initials, "GB," can be faintly seen.  And below that, in miniscule print, is the year she began life on earth:  1897.  What a treasure!

I tell Bill that I recall occasionally drinking out of that cup when I was a little girl.  Oh, how cold and refreshing fresh milk tasted in its silver casing!  Immediately, Bill insists that I claim this historical item for myself.  I don't argue!  (I love my brother!)

Of course, this precious cup deserves a much-needed face lift to wipe away the grime and erase the discoloring that comes with age and neglect.  I use TarnX and a soft cloth to accomplish what I imagine will be a daunting task.


It's anything but difficult, and within minutes, the cup has returned to its original sheen and shine.





Isn't it beautiful?

And I am reminded that all the dirty stains of sin we accumulate over the years are impossible for us to erase, but it's an easy-peasy job for our loving and forgiving Father when we repent and turn to Jesus.  He will refine us, make us new creatures in Him, and give us a fresh start.

So, ask yourself today:  Do you need to regain your shine and sheen?  Run to the Lord, confess all your sins and seek His forgiveness.

God is waiting with open arms for His treasure - you!

Amen!

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Singing for the Sake of Song

 


Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. ~Psalm 96:1


A trilling chord betrays its presence

Uninvited.  Frog caught

In chimney prison, pleads for help

We cannot see, cannot reach

To rescue, save, set free

And still, its cries of hope ring

Echoing in chambers bleak

Singing for the sake of song

Faith unbridled and unleashed

In life, in death, the same

Singing for the sake of song

Amen

Monday, August 16, 2021

Direct

 


Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life.  The one who believes in me will live even though they die. ~John 11:25


In her memorial service

One word is repeated:

"Direct"

No bush beating

No mealy mouthing

Direct

Unfiltered thoughts

Brash and honest

Direct

Everyone knows

Remembers fondly

This one of a kind

Woman


Amen

Monday, August 9, 2021

A Very Happy Ending

 


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. ~Hebrews: 12:1

Do you spy that lovely green banner on the upper right-hand corner of the blog?  Yes!  Finally, I have an official sign-up button so all my readers can follow me via email.

As you might recall, when I first sign up for Follow It to replace the defunct Feedburner, I accomplish all the necessary steps except this one.  I just can't figure out how to make it happen, and wonder how everybody else skated through this step seamlessly.  I sigh, shrug my shoulders, and vow to keep adding the actual link to the body of my posts.

I do hate to admit that I choose to throw in the towel and quit the race that begins so smootly.

But the fantastic folks at Follow It wouldn't hear of such nonsense.  Imagine my surprise when one of these caring staff members contacts me via email, notifying me that I hadn't completed the process, and could she help in any way.

Wow!

Was this an easy race to run?  By no means, mainly due to my inherent ineptitude when it comes to all things tech.  But the good people at Follow It are determined to persevere until the button is successfully installed.

Several days, and 20 email exchanges later (see what I mean by perseverance?), I triumphantly make one of the Follow It crew a temporary administrator of my blog.  Boom!  She has a breakthrough, and what you see in the upper right corner is a testimony to these people's patience with me, and their determination to do what is right by their customers.

They encouraged me every step of the way to stay the course, and they helped me see it through to a very happy ending.

May we, as followers of Jesus, always encourage, help and support our brothers and sisters to never, ever quit along the race God has prepared for them to run.

And may God bless the sweet and caring team at Follow It!

Amen!

We are going back to Oxford mid-week as my mother's memorial service is on this coming Saturday.  There will be no blog on Friday, but I do hope to be back with you the following Tuesday.  Blessings, my friends!

Thursday, August 5, 2021

My Heart is Real

 


Likewise, the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.  For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. ~Romans 8:26


My heart is wanting

More than I

Know how to 

Rightly ask

Words evade

Thoughts elope

Sorrows perch

On quivering limb

My heart is crying

Bleeding, torn

Seeking hope

Beyond the now

Where everything 

Seems silent

Voice of comfort

Passes by

My heart is healing

In the stillness

Steadfast, firm

Words unspoken

Convey with strength

The power beyond

My fragile mind

At last, I know

My heart is real


Amen


Monday, August 2, 2021

Four O' Clocks

 


So why do you worry about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil now spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. ~Matthew 6:28-29


Four o' Clocks grace my mother's garden

Blooms to herald afternoon's entrance

Holding fast to evening's pathway

Closing only at the dawn of day

Bowing out to allow Day Lilies

To take their watch upon the towers

Assuring all that beauty never fades

Instead, the flowers lift their silken petals

Sustaining us in day, and into night

Amen




Thursday, July 29, 2021

A Piece of my Heart

 


The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So, it is with everyone born of the Spirit. ~John 3:8

The photo above depicts a Maine buoy bell that my parents added to their spacious, screened-in porch ages ago.  Mom loved hearing its deep, resonating tone when the wind blew.  It reminded her of her childhood, growing up near the ocean, and hearing the harbor buoys in the distance, tolling in the choppy waves.  When a thunderstorm was brewing, Mom would head for the porch and wait expectantly for the powerful downdraft that would set this bell ringing loud and clear.

The week of Mom's passing, Danny and I receive an unexpected gift from son, Giovanni, and his wife, Hope.  It is this unique wind chime that takes only a breath of air to stir its haunting, echoing melody.


 

Oh, how this thoughtful gift touches the both of us!  These two couldn't have known about Mom's lifelong love for the wind and chimes, yet this is the gift Hope and Giovanni choose to send to Danny and me in her memory.

And for all of us who have ever lost a loved one, we know that in their parting, they have taken a piece of our hearts with them, one we will recover only when, one day, we are reunited in heaven.

In the meantime, I can sit on our deck, and hear the chimes, reminding me of all the good memories I cherish of my mother, and the long and blessed years we had together as a family.

Amen!

Happy Fall, Y'all!

  He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others.  He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. ~Daniel...