Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"And, a Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven . . ."

Ecclesiastes 3:1
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Fall is my favorite season of the year.  The chill of the night air and the coolness in the daytime are welcome companions after the sweltering heat of summer.

In North Georgia, where we live, the leaves begin to change in mid-October, usually not reaching their peak until late in that month. 





 Weeks before the colors go from green to yellow or orange and the occasional red, winds and rain knock down many which have already given up the ghost.

Our yard and driveway quickly fill with fallen soldiers.  Those who served with honor and valor throughout the spring and summer months.  Now, tired and worn, they float down to rest upon the earth.  Upon the soil which they will nourish as they slowly, methodically decompose.




And, out comes our leaf blower.  Again and again and again.  To clear our driveway lest it vanish beneath a blanket of leaves and pine straw.


Still, there are those leaves which are stubbornly clinging.  Changing slowly.  Incrementally.  Splashes of color appearing and growing in celebration of a life well lived.









For they know, and wish to show us.  There is no death in dying.  Only new beginnings.  The opening of the next chapter.

And, never the last one in the book which is eternal . . .
~
What is your favorite season of the year?
~
Will you pray with me?
We thank You, Father, that through Your beloved Son, Christ Jesus, we have eternal life.  May we, in the summer of our lives, bear much fruit for Your kingdom.  And, when the autumn of our life draws near, let us leave our loved ones with colorful, glorious memories and the knowledge that death is only the beginning, for we will meet again.  Amen.

Friday, October 26, 2012

" . . . Do I Need to Move . . .?"


Psalm 106:1
Praise the LORD.  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Pastor Wallace recalls for us the days before mandatory seat belts, when cars had long, contiguous seats.  It is common back then to see young couples sitting close together as they drive along.  The status of their relationship is obvious.  They are madly in love!

Wallace continues with the story of Marge and Frank, a couple married for many years.  They are riding down the road behind a couple snuggled up together in the front seat.

"Aw, Frank, look at that!"  says Marge.  "Remember when we used to sit like that?"

"I sure do," Frank answers.

"Why don't we ever do that anymore?  Is it because you don't love me like you used to?"

From behind the wheel, Frank looks over at Marge.  She is sitting right up against the passenger door.  As far away from him as she can be.

"I still love you, Marge," he sighs.  "I'm not the one who moved."

~

With this story, Pastor Wallace poignantly illustrates what can happen when we lose sight of our relationship with God.  When we are lost and lonely, hurt and disheartened, do we snuggle up to the Lord for comfort and strength?  Or, do we, like Marge, wallow in the lonesome passenger seat thinking God no longer cares for us?

God is steadfast.  His love endures forever.  He's not the one who moves away.

We do . . .

~

When Jesus takes the wheel, where are you sitting?

Will you pray with me?
Help us, Father, to strengthen our relationship with You through prayer and reading Your Word.  Make us ever mindful that we are the ones prone to wander, while Your steadfast love is always there for us.  May we ever love You and praise Your name.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"Hear! Hear the Voice of the Lord!"


Psalm 93:4
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea - the LORD on high is mighty.

Where do you hear the voice of the Lord?

In the roaring thunder of the surf?




The raspy whisper of wind through the sea oats?




The cry of a seagull?




In the cool caress of receding waves?


The stiff ocean breeze?


The infinite grains of sand?


In the mysterious, marvelous web of the spider?


The gnarled, contorted branches of the dune trees?


The sunrise?


Where do you hear the voice of the Lord?
~
How is God speaking to you today?

Will you pray with me?
If we listen closely, Father, we can hear Your voice calling to us, Your children.  It may be in the pounding surf or the stillness of a starlit night, the booming thunder or the gentle rain.  You speak to us.  Let us hear You.  Amen.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Could We Ask for Anything More?


Matthew 4:4
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

As we plan our trip for my husband, Danny's, 40th high school reunion, reliable places to dine are at the top of our list.  A brunch has already been arranged for Sunday at a reputable establishment, Coastal Kitchen, near St. Simon's Island.  When Danny spies a special Thursday night deal for dining, he makes reservations on-line for us.  This should make the day of our arrival, after an arduous drive, delightfully rewarding.

An e-mail arrives from my brother, Bill, who lives in the St. Simon's area with his wife and children.  

"How about meeting for lunch on Friday at Coastal Kitchen?"

Three times at the same restaurant?  Oh, heck, why not?  If it's so good even the locals long to go there, we can't go wrong.

And, we don't.

Not only do we have spectacular service, but the seafood is so fresh and delectably prepared, I can still taste it as I sit here writing this post.  Fried shrimp on Thursday.  Crab cakes with perfect Southern grits on Friday.  Lobster omelet for Sunday brunch.

Yum!

Exquisite food topped off by exquisite views . . .






Could we ask for anything more?

Then, I have a thought . . .

Reading the Bible is much like returning again and again to a favorite restaurant.  We know our souls will be well fed by God's Word.  Our spirits can savor the Scriptures, even those we have read and reread a thousand times, and find comfort and nourishment.

And, we are never, ever, disappointed by the fare.

For the Bible's menu is vast.  There is a feast to be had in every verse.

And, with the Bread of Life, we are filled . . .
~
Are you nourishing yourself with God's Word?

Will you join me in prayer?
We thank You, Father, for the Holy Scriptures, Your inspired Word, which feeds our hungry souls and guides us toward righteousness.  May we always remember that we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from You.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"There is a Joy in the Journey . . ."

Luke 10:4
Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

Pictured above are my husband, Danny's, and my suitcases which we've retrieved from the downstairs closet in preparation for our trip to Jekyll Island, Georgia, for Danny's 40th high school reunion.  They are about the same size, the same weight, and practically the same color.  Danny's, however, has a tremendous advantage.

He doesn't pack like a woman . . .

Okay, ladies, before you take offence here, let's be honest.  How many of you could pack everything you needed for a both casual and dressy occasion in this sized suitcase?  For me, it's impossible.

To begin with, I have to bring extra shirts and pants.  Who knows when that drip of coffee or that splash of mustard will attack my clothing?  Calling for a change into something fresh?

And, then, there is my new dress for Saturday evening's dinner and dance.  


No way am I cramming this beauty into a case with jeans and T-shirts!  It will have to lay flat on the back seat of the car.

Oh, and I simply must take my over-sized, fluffy bathrobe.


I wouldn't dream of hanging out on our hotel balcony in just my jammies.  Heaven forbid!

Then, there is make up, special shampoo and conditioner, hand lotion, toothbrush and paste, contacts, comb, brush, dress shoes, beach shoes, slippers, hat, sunscreen . . .

You get the picture.

I'm so afraid I'll forget something;  I even make a list of must-have items so I can check them off as I pack.  The last thing I want to do on this fun and busy weekend is to have to run by a Wal-mart to replace an item left at home.

And, poor Danny wonders how he'll cram everything into the car . . .
~
While it is necessary to bring the material things we need with us when we go on vacation, Jesus reminds us in today's scripture that our spiritual walk with Him should be anything but burdened.

No purse.  No bag.  No sandals . . .

Traveling light.  In His light.

For He has shouldered all our fears, our worries, our cares.  Freed us from the bonds of sin and death.

And, we find joy in the journey.

Because, our Lord Jesus walks with us.
~
What baggage are you still toting on your spiritual journey?

Will you pray with me?
We thank You, Father, for vacations; times when we can escape the hustle and bustle of our daily lives and simply relax.  Make us ever mindful to not let material things weigh us down or distract us from focusing on You.  May we ever find joy in the journey knowing Your precious Son, Christ Jesus, is walking with us.  Amen.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Don't Take Everything for "Granite"!

Luke 11:39
Then the Lord said to him, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness."

A few years ago, my husband, Danny, and I decide it's high time we spruce up our kitchen and bathrooms.  The white Formica counter tops, in place since the house was constructed in the 80s, are showing the wear and tear from years of use.  And, because they are white, it is a constant chore to keep them sparkling and stain-free.

From the get-go, Danny and I are in complete agreement about the new counter tops.  They need to be granite.  And, they need to blend with our brown cabinets and wood floors.

Danny does his homework on the internet and chooses a company with good reviews from its customers.  The promises of a wide and varied selection and one-day installation appeal to both of us.

When we arrive at the business,we are absolutely overwhelmed.  Even the reviews could not prepare us for the myriad choices of colors and patterns offered here.  Fortunately, as we have already determined granite to be the stone we want, we can ignore the marble and quartz.  Such a relief!

As it is, we spend a good hour looking.  Comparing.  Back to this one.  Back to that one.  Decisions, decisions . . .

Then, we see it.  The one we both fall in love with . . .


An exquisite piece of Italian granite.  Perfect!

I can hardly wait to have see our kitchen after this gorgeous stone is installed.  And, it seems like an eternity before the day of transformation arrives.

But, happily, it does!


How we love our new counter tops!  Shiny.  Durable.  A joy to behold.

Even when they're dirty . . .

Yes, you heard me right.  Because, the sprinkling of cookie crumbs, that drop of olive oil, or straying coffee grounds  aren't immediately obvious.  They blend in like a camouflaged hunter in a deer stand.

Unless I'm vigilant about wiping down the counters, there they stay.  Yet, to the casual eye, the counters appear clean.

Clean . . . like the Pharisees' cups and bowls.  When, in truth, they are marred.  Stained.

Filthy . . .

In dire need of a thorough scrubbing.  A good cleansing.

Jesus makes it very clear:  looking good on the outside is not enough.  It is what is within our hearts that counts.  Hearts which, in our sins and shortcomings, need His forgiveness.  His mercy.

His cleansing blood . . .
~
Is your heart in need of a good cleaning?

Please pray with me:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid:  Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.
~Book of Common Prayer, Holy Eucharist, Rite Two

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"Jesus Loves the Little Children . . ."

Luke 18:17
"Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

Nothing brightens my day more than a visit from my granddaughter, Virginia Rose.  She always enters the house with a winsome smile and unflagging energy, ready to run from pillar to post, delighting in everything she sees.  Rejoicing and reveling in the present moment.

Being with her always awakens my inner child.  Releases me from the chains of the adult world - the mundane, the worrisome.  Launches me into the rejuvenating realm of dreams and hopes, possibilities and promise.

She hands me the keys to the Kingdom . . .


Take joy in the simple things.


Be observant and aware.


Make silly faces!


Marvel at the miracles all around.


Know that, even when it feels like you're crawling, God is working on giant steps just for you!


Laugh with abandon!


Dance as if no one is watching . . .


Hug your loved ones every chance you get!


Can you become that child within you once again?

Can you know peace?  Know joy?  Know yourself?

Know God?

I pray He will give you the keys to the Kingdom . . .
~
Will you climb up on Jesus' lap today and welcome the hugs He has waiting for you?

Please pray with me -
We thank You, Father, for claiming us as Your children.  Help us to come before You with a child's heart so that we might see Your Kingdom.  Let us spread Your Good News to a broken and hurting world, and offer to others a love which, like a child's, gives freely and openly, expecting nothing in return.  Amen.

Friday, October 5, 2012

" . . .My Run, Run, Run, Run, Runaway . . ."


1 Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

I'll be the first to admit it.  I'm not an exercise junkie.  But, I go to the gym at least four times a week.  Weight machines for ten minutes.  Cardio, either treadmill or elliptical, for thirty.

Many mornings, I'd much rather lounge at home.  Sipping coffee, reading e-mails and the news, or making the blog rounds.  But, I force myself to break away from my comfort zone, don the work-out clothes, and head out.

What's my motivation?  There are several reasons why I routinely exercise.  Naturally, the first is, I want to stay fit.  The second, I always have more energy and can think better on the days I work out.  And, third, I do it because it helps combat my osteoporosis.  That last reason alone should be reason enough, don't you think?

All in all, I'm staying in shape and, I hope, running in such a way as to get the prize - a healthier, happier me!

While maintaining physical health is important for all of us, so is the nurturing of our spiritual health.  And, I dare say, there are as many ways to keep our souls fit as there are exercise machines at LA Fitness!


These are some of the things I do to grow in the Spirit -

  • Read the Bible.
  • Meditate on God's Word.
  • Pray for my needs and those of others.
  • Listen to Christian contemporary music (mostly, when I'm at the gym).
  • Attend a weekly Bible study.
  • Participate in worship every Sunday.
  • Read the devotional blogs of others (there is a wealth of inspiration out there!).
  • Write Meditations of my Heart.
What about you?  How are you feeding your hungry soul?  Keeping fit for the Lord?
~
Will you share some of your spiritual practices in the comment section?

Please pray with me:
May we run this race of life, Father, ever focused on the prize of salvation and forgiveness offered by Your Son, our Savior, Christ Jesus.  Keep us sound in body, mind, and spirit.  At all times and in all places, may we love and serve You.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Unless the LORD Builds the House . . ."

Psalm 127:1(a)
Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.

Recently, my husband, Danny, and I travel up to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to attend a Habitat for Humanity home dedication.  The reason?  This particular group in Rutherford County has partnered with Energy Star; they are committed to meeting the qualifications for energy efficiency and sustainability in all their building projects.  As Danny is their regional Energy Star coordinator, it is fitting that he attend, and he is delighted to be the keynote speaker.

Danny knows it is not an easy task meeting Energy Star standards.  It is anything but the inexpensive, cut-the-corner routes too many builders opt for. But, in the long run, it pays off for both homeowner and energy provider.  The less energy used, the lower the bills for the consumer.  In turn, this places less pressure on the providers to rely solely on non-renewable resources like coal and natural gas; it gives them the option to explore renewable fuel sources such as wind and solar power.

It's a marvelous trade-off.

But, more importantly, by practicing sustainable building practices, Habitat for Humanity and its sponsors honor the Lord and the earth He has created.  They are serving this generation in light of the generations to come.  They are paying it forward.  With love for God and for their neighbors.

The mission statement of Habitat for Humanity sums it up:  "Seeking to put God's love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope."

Hope . . .

For a better home.  A better environment.  A better future.

Because, as the Energy Star slogan confirms, "Better is better!"

Here are some photos taken at the dedication and blessing of this new home.


Sign recognizing corporate and individual sponsors


Presentation of a brand new Bible to go with a brand new house!


Danny with the proud homeowner and her son


Addressing the gathering


Cutting the ceremonial ribbon!  Welcome home!


~
Will you consider contributing your resources and/or your time to a Habitat for Humanity organization in your community?

Will you pray with me?
Father, please bless and keep all those who are involved with Habitat for Humanity throughout the world.  May they continue to be the hands and feet of Christ Jesus in this world.  May they shine the light of your wondrous love upon all whom they serve.  Amen.

The Best Laid Plans

Isaiah 48:17 This is what the Lord says - your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, "I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is b...