Monday, February 28, 2022

40 Voices

 


Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to a desert.  There he was tempted by the devil.  Jesus went without food for forty days and forty nights. ~Matthew 4:12

Tomorrow, we begin the holy journey of Lent as we travel the road to Easter.  This church season is known as a time of penitence and prayer.  A time to take honest stock of where we are on our spiritual walk with the Lord.

Many Christians choose to give up a special food or pastime during Lent.  Others choose to adopt a new discipline or practice.  But whatever route you decide to take, it should bring you alongside Jesus in a more meaningful and intimate way.

For this Lenten season, I am once again employing a marvelous book by friend and fellow blogger, Jean Wise entitled 40 Voices - A Lenten Devotional.  Here is a perfect description of this book as found at Amazon:

If you knew you were dying soon, would you see the people around you differently?  Jesus knew in his last week before the resurrection that the end of his human life neared.  He knew exactly how events would unfold.  He knew what the voices of the people and places around him would say.  40 Voices - A Lenten Devotional captures the words and settings surrounding Jesus that final week, so we hear them with new insights.  Their stories and experiences hold wisdom for us today, and show us the transformational power of the cross.  Jesus' presence in their story predicts his proximity within our story.  Lent offers us a time to deepen our relationship with Jesus and to hear God in new ways . . . Listen to the voices on the way to Calvary and draw closer to Christ.

If you have yet to select a discipline for this Lent, I highly recommend Jean's book as an illuminating guide.  I guarantee her thoughts and prayers will enhance and enrich your spiritual journey.

About the Author - 


Jean Wise is a writer, speaker, and retreat leader.  Her passion is to help others deepen their walk with God.  You can find Jean once a week at her blog, Healthy Spirituality.  Jean is also the author of several other books which can be found at Amazon.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

His Grace is Sufficient

 


And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~2 Corinthians 12:9

Grace can be a small thing, like wearing socks and shoes. ~Glynn Young


As the days of healing continue to unfold, I find myself seeing God's grace in everything that is transpiring.  As Paul says, His grace is all we need to be filled with His power and His strength.  And as Glynn wisely adds, it's sometimes the smallest, most seemingly insignificant things of ordinary living that convey just how much God's grace permeates our lives.

There is a time when I take our trusty treadmill for granted.  Yes, during the pandemic, we need to stay away from gyms, and we are blessed with an adequate income to indulge in such a purchase.  But I don't recognize that God's grace has a hand in our acquiring this piece of equipment.

Until now.

Beginning last Saturday, I tell my husband, Danny, that I'm feeling strong enough to embark on a brief, and slow, jaunt on our treadmill.  I'm aware that the show, Cops, is playing on Fox Nation, and each episode is just shy of 20 minutes without commercials.  (Does anyone else out there love this show?)  That sounds like a reasonable amount of time  to spend on a toned-down stroll just to begin strengthening hips, knees and ankles.

Turns out, I'm right!

Luckily, I've allowed Cops shows to pile up during my illness, so each day since my Saturday start, I've had a new episode to enjoy.  I'm adding a few more minutes to my sessions, too, as I try to build stamina.

But in it all, I remember that I can only do this because of God's grace.

It is He who has chosen to be so good to me.  

I can't earn grace, and I certainly don't deserve it.

None of us do.

Yet, we can express our thanks and praise to the Lord by acknowledging every day that it is in Him that we live, we breathe, we have our very being.

His grace may be as simple as rejoicing in socks and shoes, or a walk on a treadmill.

But is it always, and everywhere, sufficient.

Amen!



Monday, February 21, 2022

Mine

 

 

  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~John 3:16


I don't deserve you

I never will

And yet, you're here

With me, still

God of wonder

Lord of all

Loving me

Before the Fall

Sending once

Your Son, divine,

Grace falls down

You call me, "Mine."

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Whom Will You Serve?

 


But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. ~Joshua 24:15


Today marks one month since I am released from the hospital after a harrowing scare with pneumonia.  Being home has not been without its challenges in the mission to regain my overall health and stamina.

When I first arrive home, I depend on a walker to get around.  Yes, that's how weak my legs have become in three weeks' time.


Oh, how this brings back unwelcome memories of my own mother having to rely on one of these!  Simply navigating the stairs, step by step, to make it from our garage to our living quarters seems as daunting as Mt. Everest ascent.  Yet, with Danny's help, I conquer that first hurdle.

My computer desk looks like a veritable pharmacy.


So many pills I'm required to ingest, all in the name of recovery!  The steroids and my blood pressure medication, unfortunately, cause my ankles to swell to the point where I can't don socks, and even sliding my feet into ample slippers is problematic.  This swelling causes the skin around my feet to dry and peel as if days had been spent in the sun.  Did I mention, this is uncomfortable?

Finally, my P. A. hits on just the right formula to reduce the abnormal swelling and I'm finally able to ditch the walker for good.  And look!  Yesterday, at long last, I'm wearing socks and shoes again.


Another anomaly that crops up during this period of recovery is my overwhelming need for either a morning or early-afternoon nap.  I've never been a napper in my life, but this drowsiness that descends, unbidden, simply overtakes any will I might have to resist it.  I must succumb to this siren call, or suffer deprivation.  I'm wondering if this development is due to all the medication, or if my body is demanding that I gain back the rest denied me during those weeks in the hospital?  Anyone have an idea?

I give my breathing a daily workout, and register my oxygen levels multiple times during the day.  So far, so good!




It's amazing how quitting smoking can improve lung capacity and increase oxygen practically overnight.  To be honest, the cravings still haunt me from time to time, but the reasons to stay clean far outweigh any temptation I could possibly entertain.

God is good like that.  He reminds me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

A month ago, in that darkened hospital room, God gave me a choice.

Whom would I serve?

God, or the world?

I think you all know whom I chose then, and whom I choose now.

I pray you make the right choice, too.

Amen!

Monday, February 14, 2022

Rare and Beautiful Treasures

 


By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its room are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. ~Proverbs 21:3-4

A home can tell us so much about the people who live in it.  The colors featured, the style of furniture, accessories displayed, art on the walls.  When one looks with discerning eyes, a portrait of the residents begins to emerge.








Looking at these photos of my mother's home before our family must begin the task of redistributing/giving away the furnishings, can you draw any conclusions?  Don't worry, I'm not going to ask you to share your deductions here.  But I will say this:  the home in Oxford has always felt inviting, comfortable, welcoming, and tasteful - a place of security and love.

And now, one that by necessity, must be dismantled.




Fortunately, between my brother and me, our families, and the family of my mother's beloved housekeeper, most of the furniture and fixtures will find new homes.  Here are just a few of the items that now grace our house.





In adding these tangible items to our living space, my hope is that they will carry the intangible memories of Mom and Dad and the home in which they lived for so many years.  A home whose doors of welcome were ever open to anyone and everyone who stopped by.  A warm and expansive place that always made others feel loved and valued.

If furnishings can do that, they are, indeed, rare and beautiful treasures.

Ones that embody the wisdom, understanding and knowledge of a generation gone before.

Amen!

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Side by Side

 


And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~ Romans 8:28



Side by side, we stand

Together. Nothing separates

Us from God, each other

Bound at birth, awakened

To a rhythm fresh

Untried.  Path beckons

Before our entwined feet

Joyful dance displayed

Forever twirling, swirling

Pattern formed, inlaid,

By Him who calls, cajoles

Beyond the self-told tales.

Amen!


Sometimes, the realization of the gifts we have been given, when not deserved, overwhelm and make each and every day lived a reason to rejoice.

Monday, February 7, 2022

That's a Wrap!

 


Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. ~Matthew 24:35


Why the photo of the Seal Wrap Zip Safe at the top of this blog?  Let's zero in on the date this was opened.


 That's right!  August, 19, 2019, away and beyond any inkling of the coming pandemic and the shortage of some daily necessities it leaves in its wake.  So why, you might ask, does my husband, Danny, proactively order such an item to take up space on our countertop?

Well, this is the Orlando Cafe, where lots of cooking, baking, chopping and mincing go on day after day.  The wrap is a necessity; who wants to make repetitive trips to the grocery store, just to purchase a flimsy roll of wrap when we can rely on this stalwart fixture?  As far as we are concerned, this faithful roll has more than met our expectations over these trying Covid months, when efforts to fortify our pantry have been an ongoing challenge.








Yes, this is how our shelves still look today.  Call us preppers, call us extremists, but honestly, during this tiresome time, we have lacked for nothing material.  I'm not sure how many others out there can stake that same claim.

But back to the Zip Safe wrap.  We are now, in February 2022, just about to run out of the endless supply of food-preserving plenty.  Another roll awaits its debut, at the ready to assume its mission of provision.  We.  Are.  Counting.  The.  Days.

There are so many precautions we can take to preserve our way of life, our comfort zones, our peace of mind when times get tough.  And as foolish as some of these tactics might appear to others, they are of merit and worth to us.

Yet, if we fail to consider the weight of eternity in the decisions we make, great and small, we can miss out on the lesson God wishes for us to learn.

His Word, and His Word alone, is the only thing that lasts.

Any effort, any attempt, we make beyond that one goal is futile at in the end.

Does that mean we shouldn't do our best?  Try our best?  Hope for the best?  Of course not!

But it does mean we should be laser-focused upon what the Lord has promised, what He has done in the past, and what He will continue to do in the future.

Used and appreciated, the Seal Wrap will pass away.

It will be replaced.

God's Word needs no replacement.

It's a wrapped-up promise sealed for good.

Amen!

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Winter Wonderland

 


He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.  He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes.  He hurls down his hail like pebbles.  Who can withstand his icy blast? ~Psalm 147:15-17


Two weeks ago sees the eastern seaboard sacked by Kenan, a wicked Nor'easter, with record amounts of snowfall.  My husband, Danny, is an unapologetic weather geek, so he follows the storm and its development with avid interest.  I am particularly concerned about how the weather affects parts of Massachusetts, since all my living relatives are located in that state.

Fortunately, everyone emerges unscathed when all is said and done.

Here in the South, we can only dream of getting a winter storm with such intensity and fury.  It's something we may think we want, only if for the novelty, but the reality of dealing with power outages, no plows at the ready, and ice-slicked roads would leave millions at the mercy of unforgiving elements.

But, when there is a gentle snowfall, accumulating just enough of the magical white flakes to offer a winter wonderland, that is a scenario we will take any day of the week!  That's precisely what happens in Raleigh, NC, where my daughter and her family live, around the same time as the big, bad storm.  I am so delighted with the photos, showing the splendid time the grands are having, I simply have to share with you.

Alexandra



This is about as big as a snowman attempt as is made by the girls!  And why is Alexandra looking so forlorn below?  You would look the same way if big sister had just finished pummeling you with snowballs!


Savannah






Grand- pup Finn!


And last, but never least, Virginia




How all these photos make me wish we lived closer, but I'm grateful that the girls were able to have so much fun, and their memories can be shared with us.

I can hope that the Lord has more wintry gifts remaining in His storehouse of ice and snow before all is said and done this season.  But let us give thanks for all that He has already bestowed upon us, day by blessed day.

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...