Monday, December 20, 2021

Merry Christmas!

 


So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. ~Luke 2:4-7


2021 has been a challenging year for us.  From Danny's pacemaker issues and subsequent heart ablation to Mom's illness in the spring and summer that eventually leads to her passing, we have been through the proverbial wringer.

As Christmas is right around the corner, with the New Year close on its heels, I've decided to take some time away from blogging to reflect upon all that's transpired, to open my heart and mind to the wonder of our Savior's birth, and to prayerfully contemplate my hopes and dreams for 2022.  Maybe, this season of rest and regrouping will also reveal to my my word for the year to come.

Thank you all who have loyally followed Meditations of My Heart throughout the year.  Each of you is dear to me, and your thoughtful comments always make my heart sing.

May you have a Merry and Blessed Christmas, and a safe, prosperous New Year filled with love, joy and peace!

Amen!

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Rock My World!

 


May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. ~Psalm 19:14


When granddaughter, Virginia, presents with her drawing that I feature in the previous post, she also gives us this bag of rocks.  ROCKS???  What, you might ask, do rocks have to do with missing your grandparents?

But I know their significance immediately.

When Virginia is younger, and frequently staying over at our house, she loves to collect rocks wherever we go.  She is especially intrigued by the stones her Papa (aka Danny) places in various spots in our yard to help control erosion and encourage more moss growth.




Mind you, I don't let her collect too many of these at any given time as that would defeat the purpose of the rock piles, but I do encourage her to look for the prettiest ones.

I've saved most of the stones she has gathered in a special container.  As you can see, we have a moment of whimsy with two of them.


But here are Virginia's special "gems."


We collect, or rather I buy, these during our several visits to the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History located right here in Kennesaw.  These are the only items of interest to her in the gift shop, and Gammie is relieved she doesn't ask for more expensive items!

Virginia's gift of rocks is a loving acknowledgement of fun times spent with her grandparents.  When I ask if she would like us to add this thoughtful collection to one of Papa's stone paths, she is absolutely delighted.  I tell her I'll find a separate area in need of stones so we'll always know they came from her.



And every time we look at them, we'll think of her, and the deep, rock-hard love we have, and will always have, for one another.

Amen!

Monday, December 13, 2021

One in Love

 


Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves. ~Romans 12:10


When we arrive at Sarah and John's home, Virginia greets us with this drawing featured above, and it's obvious she's put so much thought and effort into crafting it.  We are, of course, beyond delighted and honored.  We've missed her more than words can express, yet she has tried to communicate the vacuum that she, too, has experienced in her heart with this tangible reassurance.

Virginia's favored channel of communication is art, but mine is words.  Here is the poem that bubbles up after receiving this special gift.


I've waited, counting days

Until you come and hold

Enfold me in your arms

As we did for years

When we lived close

And never gave a thought

To separation; distance

Does not define our bond

We are one in heart

We are one in spirit

We are one in love


No, distance will never define us.

Love will.

May you all be surrounded by God's love during the Christmas season and in the New Year.

Amen!

Thursday, December 9, 2021

A Walk in the Park

 



How many are your works, Lord!  In wisdom, you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. ~Psalm 104:24


Ever since she is a tyke, granddaughter, Virginia, has always loved being in the great outdoors.  It's no wonder, then that she asks her Papa and me to take her to Umstead State Park, an almost 6,000-acre sanctuary located between the cities of Raleigh, Cary (where we are staying in a condo), and Durham, NC.  She has been there on numerous occasions with her family, but they use the entrance closer to their home in Raleigh.  Loblolly Trail is not only new for us, but new for her, too!

As you can see from the sign above, this isn't a loop trail, so we decide to walk in for forty minutes, then turn around a walk back, knowing that by the time we pop out at the parking lot, it will be lunchtime, and the Chick-fil-A down the street will be calling our names.


Papa and Virginia constantly get ahead of me on our walk.  Turn around, you two!


Some autumn color still remains in the leaves.


Lovely ferns were growing everywhere!



Virginia is so enjoying herself!


Virginia drops back to walk with the slow poke, and Danny snaps some photos.


I still can't get over how much this "baby" has grown!


And what would any family outing be without the obligatory selfie?

I do hope you all enjoyed coming along on this lovely, if very cold, walk with us.  During the coming holidays, I invite you to step back from the hustle and bustle, and take time to enjoy God's marvelous creation all around you.

Amen!

Monday, December 6, 2021

God Knows Us

 


Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice! ~Philippians 4:4


The last half of November is filled with legendary travel and joyful reunions for my husband, Danny, and me.  He just finished processing gorgeous photos of scenery we enjoy along the way, so I'll share those with you at a later time.  First, I want to focus on the main purpose of our journey:  Seeing our family who now live in Raleigh, North Carolina!

When we arrive at daughter, Sarah, and son-in-law, John's, place on Saturday, it's definitely a time to rejoice!  The hugs all around are indescribably long and longed for.  When Virginia, pictured above, throws her arms around me, I think she will never let go, and that's absolutely fine with me.  I find myself in this moment recalling every embrace we share during our visit; a visit that now seems more like a dream than reality.

But here are some undoubtedly realistic moments.


Savannah


Alexandra




We not only draw pictures and play the fishing game, but endless rounds of UNO, too.  Savannah and Alexandra especially enjoy these games with their Gammie, who manages to get down on the floor and get back up with only a tweak in the hip.  LOL!

I expect all the hugs and laughter, of course, from the family being together, but the biggest surprise is how grand-dog, Finn, greets Danny and me.  Sarah and John tell me he doesn't take to other people readily, but his reaction to us is over the top welcoming.  As soon as I walk through the door, Finn is clamoring for my lap and my attention, and is beside himself with joy when either Danny or I give into his desires.


Alexandra is amazed by this unabashed greeting when she states, "He doesn't know you, but he knows you!"  In other words, Finn has never met you, but he knows you are people he can trust because he senses you love him and love us.

Wow!  Don't you love the reasoning of a six-year-old?  No wonder Jesus told us to become as little children so we could enter the kingdom of heaven!

The girls' unreserved and genuine hugs combined with Finn's enthusiastic welcome should remind us all of the love God has for us.  He never holds back, He never withholds.  He always welcomes us with open arms.

We simply need to turn to Him and revel in His love, His grace, His forgiveness.

God knows me.

God knows you.

Amen!

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Wherever We Go

 


Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. ~Joshua 1:9

It's been a long time coming, but my husband, Danny, and I are about to embark on our longest road trip ever in all the years we've been married.  The purpose?  To spend Thanksgiving with daughter, Sarah, son-in-law, John, and the three grand grands!


Ever since Danny's last heart procedure, we have disavowed expressways altogether.  We'd rather ride the calmer roads less taken, discovering new sights and adventures along the way.  That's why we are leaving so early, this Monday to be exact, and will make the most of our leisurely journey to Raleigh, North Carolina.

Our first stop?  The Ridges Resort in Young Harris, Georgia.



Isn't it a lovely place?  We will arrive there by mid-afternoon on Monday, so should be able to roam the extensive grounds and enjoy our one night stay.

On Tuesday, we'll head up to a cozy cabin in NC called End of the Road.



We will spend several days there before resuming our trip northward.  We plan to visit a local waterfall and, perhaps, a winery in the immediate area.

Friday, it's on to Raleigh!  Look at this amazing Air BnB Danny's booked.



This space will allow us to entertain the family there, if we choose, and Virginia, our oldest granddaughter, will be able to spend all the nights she wants with us as the house has a second bedroom.

All that being said, this blog will be my last until the first week in December, as we plan to once more take our time going home when Thanksgiving is over.  I hope you all will forgive me in advance if I don't indulge in reading/commenting on your blogs while I am out of town.  I promise, I'll take plenty of photos, and will have lots of stories to share with you upon my return.

We are praying for safe travels, knowing our God is with us wherever we go.  I humbly as for your prayers, too.

Wishing you and yours a most Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

Amen!

Monday, November 8, 2021

Coloring Life With Joy

 


People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them.  When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them.  But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." ~Luke 18:15-17

My daughter, Sarah, sends me this photo of our youngest granddaughter, Alexandra, with the explanation:  "Alexandra is lining up the leaves she collected on her way back from the bus stop."

I love this colorful arrangement she has made, seemingly on the spur of the moment, and then I stop and think.  When Alexandra is only four, the family moves to Conway, South Carolina.  There aren't many deciduous trees in that locale, so she would not have seen the brilliant colors that autumn has to offer in so many places in our country.  And she is too young to have vivid memories of living in North Georgia.

Now, in Raleigh, North Carolina, this is a brand-new encounter and delight to Alexandra's palate of life's experiences.  She is seeing the splendor of these leaves rich colors for the first time.  Her reaction?  She needs to pay homage.

Such beauty and elegance can't casually be passed by, but must be cherished and honored in a formal recognition deserving of every fallen leaf.  And I'm reminded of how we, as adults, place flowers, or other meaningful memorials, on the graves of our loved ones.

Alexandra, whether she is aware of it or not, is honoring God and His creation.  She has taken note of the loveliness all around her, and has tried her best to imitate that in order to align with her six-year-old perceptions.  Innocent and free, she has no notions of grandeur, only pleasure in the act itself.

May we all come to the Father as little children, expectant, loving and giving, secure in the knowledge that He will color our lives with joy.

Amen!

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Blessed Beyond Measure

 


Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. ~James 5:16

I have my long-planned gum surgery this past Monday.  It is not the procedure that concerns me, but the fear that I will be plagued by pain for days after.  That's precisely why I ask you at the time, my friends, for prayers and for understanding why I opt to take a brief blogging break.

Before the appointment, I follow the dental surgeon's instructions:  Start your antibiotics the day before; eat a hearty meal as close to the time of surgery as possible, and take the prescribed pain reliever.  Check, check, check!  My husband, Danny, drives me to the office and drops me off as the surgery is estimated to last about two hours.  I'm a bit nervous, but once the nitrous oxide does its thing, I can begin to relax.

Believe it or not, the time flies by as the periodontist and her assistant get right to work.  Of course, I feel nothing because of the Novocain, but I still can't stop thinking about how my jaw will feel once that dosage wears off.

I'm anticipating the worst . . . 

But the worst never materializes.

Instead of searing pain, there is only a residual soreness, not enough to warrant any further medication to alleviate it.  I'm over-the-moon ecstatic!

And I can't stop thanking and praising God.  He has answered my prayers and the prayers of so many of you out there in Blogland.  After all the dire warnings regarding this surgery's aftermath, this is, indeed, a miracle.

Are there any other issues that could bug me for the 10 days until my routine follow-up?  Sure!  No hot beverages (thank you, Lord, for iced coffee!), only soft foods (think cottage cheese and smoothies), and no chewing or brushing on the stitched side of my mouth.  But these are minor inconveniences that pale in light of the fear of pain I dread for so many weeks.

That is one thorn God has most graciously removed.

And I am blessed beyond measure.

Amen!

Thursday, October 28, 2021

A Rich Harvest

 


The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us. ~Psalm 67:6

The city of Kennesaw, Georgia, has grown exponentially in the last 20 years, largely due to the expanding Kennesaw State University located in our backyard.  Even with all this increase in housing, traffic and population, Kennesaw proper hasn't lost its hometown feel.  We are even crowned with the coveted title of the 10th safest city in the entire state!  (Thank you, Kennesaw PD!)

With all the stories of division in communities propagated by the mainstream media these days.  Kennesaw proudly goes against the grain of that narrative.  Nothing speaks louder to that than this fall display of scarecrows in the downtown area.  These creations are concocted by a variety of churches, businesses and civic groups in our area.  Each has its own unique message or theme.  Best of all, agree or disagree, every display is respected, and might I say, enjoyed. 

So, come with me as I take a walking tour of downtown, and meet the diverse, and sometimes humorous, scarecrows of Kennesaw!


A Mom's Support Group created these scarecrows above, and I bridal shop, the one below.


From the library.


Yes, we have a brewery and distillery in town.



A cheer and tumble place.


Our church's preschool (Kennesaw UMC)


First Baptist Church


Happy there's no ban on Dr. Seuss here!


I never even knew our city has an organization designed to rescue rabbits.


There are more photos I could share, but will close with my favorite:  A salute to active military and veterans.



What a fun way to celebrate the splendor of the fall and the realization of a rich harvest!  God, our God, has certainly blessed our city and community in so many ways.

I pray that He will bless yours, too.

Amen!

Friends, I could really use some prayers.  I'm having some surgery on my gums this coming Monday, and the aftermath, for at least the first several days, will not be pleasant.  In light of this, I won't be posting a blog on Tuesday, as usual, and I might not be up to getting around to your blogs, either.  I know you all will understand.  Thanks in advance for the prayers!  Love and blessings!

Monday, October 25, 2021

Patient Expectation

 


"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Although I haven't explored my word for the year, hope, often in my blogs, I am blindsided by the realization of how much this word has played a part in 2021.  What brings it home is an acronym offered by Greg Laurie of Harvest Ministries, whose daily devotions I subscribe to.  Here is what Greg says:

If you're losing hope today, don't give up.  I don't know what kind of situation you're in right now, but you're going to get through it.  Remember this acronym for hope:  holding on with patient expectation.

Wow!  Just wow!

The key word here for me is patient.  Honestly, I don't like waiting for answers, waiting in line, or anything else that tries my patience.  

Yet, in this year of HOPE, my patience for patience has increased ten-fold.  It's had to, considering all the circumstances by which I've been tasked and tested.  Here are some examples:

  • Waiting for the Covid vaccine
  • Waiting to see daughter, Sarah, son-in-law, John, and the grands over spring break
  • Waiting through the long summer weeks of Mom's illness, hoping beyond hope that we can bring her back to her own home in time.  Now, thankfully, she is in her forever home with God.
  • Waiting for Danny's heart to be healed and whole once again, which it is, praise the Lord!
  • Waiting right now for our Thanksgiving journey to spend time once again with Sarah, John and the girls, praying for safe travels and a wonderful, memorable visit.
In all of these scenarios, hope is my constant companion.  And I'm sure it's yours, too, in whatever you have faced or are facing right now.  Not to dismiss Paul's contention that love is the greatest component of the trio:  faith, hope, love.  But I simply can't see a life worth living unless hope is a strong and sturdy part of that three-legged stool.

God knows our need for all three, and He is the source from whom these blessings flow.  He has promised to give us a hope and future, and we know our Lord always keeps His promises.

So, as this year winds down, friends, let us continue to love one another, persevere in our faith, and hope with patient expectation that God's will is done and His kingdom may come.

Amen!

Thursday, October 21, 2021

You've Got Mail!

 


Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God, to God's holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:  Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. ~Ephesians 1:1-2

On our most recent trip to Mom's, I set about the task of going through seemingly endless piles of large envelopes filled with cards, letters and miscellaneous items my parents kept throughout the years.  It is, in a word, overwhelming.  I never realized what pack rats my folks were because their home is so large, and it is convenient to squirrel away untold trash and treasure where it isn't readily visible.

It is easy to toss Christmas cards, birthday cards and calendars dating back to the 90s without even looking closely inside the packets, but many others are problematic.  Each of these envelopes demands the emptying of its contents in order to decide what's worth keeping and what should be cast aside.

There are plenty of sentimental items that I don't really want to keep, but don't feel I have the authority to throw away without my brother, Bill, getting a go-through first, so I leave quite a few piles on Mom's dining room table for him to peruse on his next visit.  What I do bring home with me to sort and save are the hundreds of letters exchanged over the years between my grandparents, Mom and Dad, a dear relatives now departed.  These are treasures, indeed, and it makes me grateful that my parents did make the effort to save these.  I'm hoping, by the time I'm through reading and cataloguing all of these, that a bigger picture can be drawn of my family tree.


These are the contents of just ONE envelope!  Does anyone remember those thin, flimsy air mail missives?  I'm sure glad the envelopes were saved with the content as I'm counting on the postmarks to allow me to date the letters more accurately.  I even find, at least in this pile, a letter I write to my Dad when he was away in Iowa for a summer of study on corn plants!


Oh, how precious these items are to me!  But just imagine how powerfully impressive and precious Paul's letters were to the early Christian communities, eager to hear his inspirational messages and exhortations.  There was no reading/hearing them once, then tossing them away like yesterday's news.  These were pearls of infinite value to the often persecuted and struggling followers of Christ Jesus.

Without these early Christian converts, saving and savoring Paul's letters and, undoubtedly, copying them over and over and over for the sake of preservation, what would our beloved New Testament look like?  I dare say we would be made all the poorer in our faith had these not been included.

So, I will save these letters, rewriting some if I have to, and pass them down to future generations.  Perhaps, they will become just as meaningful to them as they are to me.

Amen!

Roots Take Hold

  Consider how the wild flowers grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one...