Friday, June 30, 2017

God's Super Heroes! Part 2


2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

Psalm 34:14b
Do good, seek peace, and go after it.

On the final day of Vacation Bible School, the children are met with a challenge that, at first glance, seems insurmountable.  They are given two sheets of printer paper, six pieces of masking tape, and a stack of five hymnals.  Working in groups of two, and without any adult assistance, these rising 2nd grade super heroes are told they have to figure out a way to manipulate the paper in order to support the weight of at least one book.

I'm stymied.  Stumped!  You see, when God doled out my particular gifts, a penchant for engineering was definitely not in the mix.  And I notice that many of the children appear to be just as baffled as I am at the prospect of successfully executing the project.

Granddaughter, Virginia Rose, and her partner, Stella, don't seem perturbed or befuddled by the assignment, and eagerly pose possibilities to one another.  They come close to a solution, but it's not until a precocious young lady named Sydney actually balances three books on her paper that Virginia and Stella figure out how it's done.  (Why more children in the group didn't follow Sydney's example, I have no clue.)

Here are the two girls hard at work.  Will they succeed?



Careful!  Careful!




Got it!!!


Can we get two?




Yes!  Yes!
Let's try for three!




Uh-oh!  The walls come tumbling down!  But how proud these two are to have accomplished such a feat!

~

Without God's strength, we are like those flimsy pieces of paper, unable to support ourselves under the weight of cares, worries, troubles, and strife that life inevitably brings our way.  But when we call upon Christ's all-sufficient grace, allowing His power to be made perfect in our weakness, then we become like those two sturdy towers, able to withstand anything and everything the world throws at us.

As the chorus of the Casting Crowns' song, "In Me," so aptly expresses:

'Cause when I'm weak, You make me strong
When I'm blind, You shine the light on me
'Cause I'll never get by living on my own ability
How refreshing to know You don't need me
How amazing to find that You want me
So I'll stand on Your truth
And I'll fight with Your strength
Until You bring the victory
By the power of Christ in me

Amen!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

God's Super Heroes! Part 1


Psalm 34:14b
Do good, seek peace, and go after it.
(Our guiding verse for VBS)

Oh, wow!  Just wow!  This past week assisting with our church's Vacation Bible School is nothing short of fabulous, wondrous and heroic.  Our program is "Hero Central," and all the amazing children who attend learn about super heroes in the Bible, and how they, too, can be super heroes for God right here and right now.

Granddaughter, Virginia Rose, stays with us the entire week in order to attend the daily morning events with me.  Ever since last year's VBS, she has been eagerly anticipating this special time spent with us, and the opportunity to learn more about God's great love for her.

Each day, we focus on a different aspect of what makes God's super heroes so super:  Heart; Courage; Wisdom; Hope, and Power.  The children rotate with their class from station to station throughout the morning, but we all gather at the beginning of the day for energetic, spirit-filled songs and dances.







Every super hero needs a costume, right?  So on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in Discovery, the children create shields, masks and capes that best describe the super hero they wish to be for God.











Meet Virginia, the Rainbow Heart!  She has the power to change into animals, to fly, and transform objects into different colors.  (And yes, she came up with this compendium of ideas all by herself!)



And what super hero would be complete if he or she didn't help others?  Virginia and her friends learn about aiding poor families in Haiti; we bring in money earmarked for Heifer International, an organization that provides farm animals for people who otherwise couldn't afford them.  We raise almost $500!  In addition to this, our super heroes also donate a total of 84 jump ropes that will be taken to Haitian children by our mission team this week.  What big hearts these kids have!





We enjoy dedicated Bible story time, too, where the children learn of heroes in the Old and New Testaments.  Heart:  the anointing of King David.  Courage:  Abigail taking provisions to David and his army against the will of her husband.  Wisdom:  The boy, Jesus, astounding the teachers in the temple.  Hope:  Jesus teaching the Beatitudes.  Power:  God raises Jesus from the dead.





Outdoor activities are a must for these active and growing super heroes!  And what could be better than playing with Captain Shield, our VBS leader?





Unless, it's a special visit from Wonder Woman!





But the most astonishing event, and the one that creates unbridled excitement for Virginia Rose and her new friend, Stella, happens on the very last day of Hero Central.

Stay tuned!!!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Birds of a Feather


Galatians 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Romans 2:11
For God does not show favoritism.

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you probably know that my husband, Danny, and I enjoy feeding the birds that inhabit our forest.  So much so, we have two squirrel-buster feeders hung with a series of wires and pulleys so they can be lowered for easy filling, then hauled back up beyond the reach of the deer that frequent our neighborhood.  (Yes, folks, deer like sunflower seeds, too!)


We've seen quite the variety of birds over the years:  cardinals; nuthatches; chickadees; goldfinches, and even the occasional flicker and bluebird.  All in all, these birds seem to respect each other's space at the feeders; it's not uncommon to see one or two perched on the wire when the feeders are occupied, awaiting their turn that always comes quickly.

Enter the house finch.

We're all familiar with the old saying, "Birds of a feather flock together."  Whoever penned that must have been well acquainted with the habits of house finches.  According to All About Birds, house finches are gregarious creatures, who upon discovering feeders to their liking, might bring a flock of 50 or more birds with them.

Thank goodness this group hasn't attracted this unwieldy number!  But as you can tell from these photos Danny takes, they are certainly swarming our feeders.





And although the cardinal above managed to "wing" his way in, many other of our feathered friends, who are certainly not used to this level of competition, are excluded.

If the house finch has a motto, I'm sure it is, "All for one, and one for all."

They flock together, feed together, oblivious to the presence of the other bird species around them.  It's as if they are the only creatures who matter.  Who measure up.

And I can't help but think their behavior reflects our own human frailties.  Don't we tend to stick to our "own kind?"  Surrounding ourselves with friends who think like us, act like us, dress like us?  Turning a blind eye toward others who "don't measure up" to our standards, our level of education, our income bracket?

But Paul reminds us in Romans 2:11 that God doesn't play favorites.  He loves all His children with the same fierce, unfailing, abiding love.  No one person is more blessed than another.  All are equally precious to Him.

So knowing we are all one in Christ Jesus, shouldn't we start behaving that way toward our fellow human beings, no matter what side of the tracks they come from, no matter their political beliefs, no matter their skin color or country of origin?

It's so much easier to be a house finch, isn't it?

But God never said following Him would be easy.

With the Lord's help, may we all begin to regard our fellow travelers on this life's journey with God's eyes.

The eyes of love.

Amen!

Due to having our granddaughter, Virginia, here all next week for Vacation Bible School, and me helping out with this each day, I'm taking a brief blog break.  I will be back here with you on Tuesday, June 27th.  God bless!





Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Twit or Tweet?


Ecclesiastes 10:13
The words of his mouth begin with foolishness, and the end of his talk is raving madness.

Twit:  (verb) to taunt, tease, ridicule, etc., with reference to anything embarrassing; gibe at.  Synonyms:  jeer at; mock; insult, deride.

How many of you use Twitter regularly?  For what seems like ages, I haven't, except to tweet some of my favorite Christian bloggers' posts.  But I never make a habit of checking my Twitter feed because my "Silver Bird" connection has always crashed and burned, or chose not to show up at all when I bring my computer online.

What makes it suddenly "fix" itself, flashing irritating alerts on the right-hand side of my computer screen, I can't fathom.  But it does not make me a happy camper.  Honestly, I don't want the interruption, nor do I wish to be distracted when composing a post on Facebook, penning an email, or just browsing the internet.

And I've yet to figure out how to disable it without completely dismantling my Twitter link.  Any advice you all could give me on this would be greatly appreciated!

What I've noticed as my wandering eyes are tempted to peruse the invasive banner of news flashes and announcements is that I will see an article that piques my interest.  I visit.  I read.  Then I make a huge (my word for the year) mistake.

I comment.

Man, oh, man!  What I say, no matter how innocuous I perceive it to be, is regarded as an attack more often than not.  It's a free-for-all, body slam, face in the dirt, cataclysmic KO.  The stinging words leave me reeling and wondering, what has happened to civil discourse in our country?  What has happened to respect and common decency?  

Twitter is, with a few exceptional exceptions, a cesspool.  Tweets have morphed into twits!  And the last thing I desire is one more ounce of negativity in my otherwise positive outlook.

Too many mouths filled with foolishness, bordering on the verge of raving madness.  Intolerant.  Angry.  Hateful.

The anonymity that Twitter fosters, I believe, makes such vicious attacks on others not only possible, but preys upon our human frailty to judge others.  That's God's job, not ours.

So this week, I've made a pledge to the Lord and to myself.  I will only tweet Christian inspiration, and will not be sucked into the vortex of vitriol Twitter enables.  I need not, and neither do you, have to put up with the foolish and frenzied insanity of others; but there is something positive we can do.

Pray!

Pray for all those lost souls out there who would rather twit than tweet.

Amen!

Friday, June 9, 2017

"Until the First Grandchild"


Jeremiah 31:3
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:  "I have loved you with an everlasting love;  I have drawn you with unfailing kindness."

1 John 4:7
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Recently I receive, and readily embrace, this sweet, unexpected note and drawing from our oldest granddaughter, Virginia Rose.


Here is what she wrote:

Dear Gammie,
I love you so much!  And you're my favorite Gammie in the entire world!  Also, you bring my heart up when you are here, and my heart is down when you are not here.  I love you.  You're mine.  
Love, Virginia

Oh, how my heart soars and sings at Virginia's beautiful message!  And I so love what she says as it reminds me of those times when we feel that God is not present.  Those times when He feels so far away from our needs, our wants, our petitions and prayers.

My heart is down when you're not here.

Reality?  God is always here with us; it is we who create the distance.

Virginia's heart is cast down, and so is mine, when I'm not with her.  I adore this amazing child, and I'd like nothing better than to be able to see her each and every day!  But you know what?  God feels the same way.  He desires to spend time with us, to have conversations, to provide those reassuring, comforting hugs, if and when we choose to spend time with Him in prayer.  There is nothing to compare to talking with and listening to our Father who knows all our needs before we ask.

The Lord, our God, has loved us with an everlasting love, one that will never fail, and one that has been witnessed throughout the ages.  And at times, I think, His great love is perfected in the gift of grandchildren.  So I leave you all with these inspirational and joyful quotes about what it means to be a grandparent.

Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild. ~Welsh Proverb

It is as grandmothers that our mothers come into the fullness of their grace. ~Christopher Morley

If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I'd have had them first. ~Lois Wyse

Grandchildren are God's way of compensating us for growing old. ~Mary H. Waldrip

You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother. ~Proverb

Posterity is the patriotic name for grandchildren. ~Art Linkletter

Oh, how much our grandchildren can teach us about God's abiding and steadfast love!

Amen!


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Henry, the Hero


John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this:  to lay down one's life for one's friend.

Henry, a cat with a gentle soul and loving disposition, has been a part of granddaughter, Virginia Rose's, life since she was just a toddler.  To her, he's not just a pet, he's family.  And although her mom and dad have always known Henry is a special cat, they discover recently, not in a way they would wish, just how special he is.



John, my son-in-law, routinely takes Virginia and her sisters, Savannah and Alexandra, to a playground at their apartment complex.  Henry, as is his custom, follows faithfully after them, though John doesn't notice it at the time on this particular day.  When they reach the gate, there are no other children playing there, but John sees a young man sitting on a bench some distance away.  He has his pit bull with him.

Apprehensive about this unexpected presence, John hails the man.  "Hey, there!  Is your dog friendly?  I've brought my girls here to play."

The man looks up from his phone, where he has been busy texting.  "Yeah, he's friendly.  Loves kids.  It's fine to bring them in."

John is still unsure of the situation, but Virginia's pleading has him throwing caution to the wind.  He opens the gate, holding Savannah in one arm and Alexandra in the other, as Virginia darts through, making a beeline for the swing set.

That's the only provocation this dog needs.  He flies toward Virginia, barking furiously.  In a flash, he's right on her, snapping at the back of her neck.  Terrified, Virginia screams and starts to run toward her father.  "Don't run, baby, don't run!"  John cries out in a panic as he hurries toward her as fast as he can.  "Cover your neck with your hands!"

Then it happens!  An orange and white bullet leaps out of nowhere, sinking his claws firmly into the dog's back, and hissing with rage.  Henry!  The dog yelps in pain, trying desperately to unseat his unwelcome passenger.  The distraction allows John to reach Virginia, and get her to safety along with her two sisters.  Once outside the playground's confines, John turns around, expecting the worst.  After all, Henry has tackled a predator ten times his size!

He looks just in time to see the dog finally dislodge Henry from his back, but not before the cat inflicts a final blow.  As he's sailing off the dog's back, Henry manages to dig his claws into the dog's face, nearly gouging out his right eye, before he lands on all fours and dashes toward John and the girls.

At this point, the negligent owner runs over to finally take control of his animal, but not before John gives him a scathing earful.  Not that I approve of such language, nor am I thrilled Virginia is standing there to hear it, but I can certainly understand a father's fury and frustration about what has just transpired.

Sadly, the owner doesn't offer an apology.  He simply hooks on the leash and leads the wounded dog away as quickly as he can, while John hastily ushers the girls back to their apartment.

"Where's Henry, Daddy?"  Virginia asks in alarm.  "Where did he go?  Did that mean dog hurt him?"

"I hope not," John says.  "Henry probably ran all the way to the apartment and is there waiting for us."

Tears well up in Virginia's eyes.  "That dog was so huge.  He could have killed Henry."

"And I think Henry knew that, baby, but he risked his life anyway to save you.  He loves you that much."

"And I love him, Daddy.  Henry is my hero!"

"Mine, too, Virginia, mine, too."



Just so none of you worry, Henry came through this ordeal with only a few nicks.  He didn't even have to go to the vet!  He is both our angel and our hero!

Friday, June 2, 2017

It's More Blessed to Give


Acts 20:35
"I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak.  And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

Summer is almost here!  And what better way to usher in the vacation season than a book give-away?  That's right!  I am offering the first novel in The Glade Series, A Trip, a Tryst and a Terror, for FREE to the first 25 people who email me through my website.  Will it be autographed?  Of course!  Here's how it works:


  • Visit my WEBSITE and click on "Contact" at the top right-hand side of the page.
  • Send me your name and home address so I can mail you a free book along with extra bookmarks to give to family and friends.  
  • Leave me feedback via the website once you've read the novel - I'd love to hear your take on the story.
  • Write a review on Amazon - not required by any means, but if you do, let me know so I can check it out and (Are you ready for this?), send you Book Two in the series, Children in the Garden!  Yes!
So how's that for a sweet deal?

But, friends, you need to act fast.  Let me hear from you today!

Love and blessings!

My Prayer Corner

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