Monday, August 24, 2015

Refreshment in the Quiet Places

"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Mark 1:35
When my father was alive, he faithfully and quietly slipped from the house every day for his hour walk around our Tennessee mountain, thus the name of our small town, Mountain City. Though I don't think I ever heard him say as much, I'm confident he talked with God as he hiked. Knowing Daddy as I do, I'm sure he poured out his heart to the Lord, sometimes wept, other times laughed. Even grumbled, complained at times. But most of all, I'm certain he remembered his God in all His wonder and faithfulness. 
The Scripture notes that Jesus often slipped away to a lonely place to commune with His Father, sometimes all night long.
If He needed to do this on a regular basis, how much more do I need to do it!
When I think about Jesus alone on the mountain or in a desert place, I most often imagine Him on His knees, pouring His heart out to His Father, seeking His direction.
But lately, during my quiet time in my new quiet place, I've pondered other possibilities.
Perhaps He listened as much as He talked. Basked in the sights, sounds, even smells He created. Marveled in the wonder of the stars He flung into space.
Agonized with gut-wrenching longing to restore what He'd made. Tempted to turn the pages and skip to the triumph--the overwhelmingly satisfying conclusion to all things. An ending to time as we know it, and the beginning of forever.
Hard to wrap the mind around. But I wonder . . .
Did He stroll and talk with His Father?

Did He rest on occasion, simply breathing in the Father's love?

Did He pull out His prayer scroll and methodically work through each name?

Did He ever fall asleep, weary from His interaction with the multitudes, too weary to pray?

Other passages help us clarify Jesus's routine.

"When Jesus heard what had happened (John the Baptist, his cousin, beheaded), he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick . . . After he had dismissed them (the crowd), he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it." Matthew 14:13-14, 23-24 NIV (parentheses mine). 

From this passage, we can see that after receiving the tragic news of his cousin's death, Jesus withdraws. Bad news warrants prayer and reflection. But even in the midst of retiring, Jesus pauses to tend to the crowd's needs, afterwards picking up with His prayer retreat. 

On another occasion, "at daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, 'I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.'" Luke 4:42-43 NIV

In this passage, it would appear Jesus' time with the Father affirmed specific direction to other towns to preach the gospel. Oh, how we need this daily time with God to seek direction for our day!

Luke 5:16 once again notes in spite of the tug on His time, "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." 

Talking with His Father was as natural and as necessary as breathing in air. He hungered for it; He depended on it; He reveled in it.

And discovered refreshment, reaffirmation, and redirection. 

If Jesus needed these things, I need them even more. 


Thursday, July 30, 2015

My Personal Retreat Day

Yesterday, I enjoyed a personal rejuvenation retreat at the Peaks of Otter in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. For 35 years, this peaceful place has served as a respite for me and my family.

Camp outs when the children were young
Nature walks
Hiking to Sharp Top
Anniversary dinners overlooking the lake
Meeting friends to share a quiet breakfast
More picnics than I can count

Grandchildren forging new territory in the rippling creek beds
Ranger talks
Early Sunday morning church services in the amphitheater
Long, lazy talks around a crackling campfire
Gooey Smores
Hunter's Stew
BBQ chicken wrapped in foil and placed in hot embers
A raccoon sneaking Cheese Nips from my husband's hand
A banana peel neatly left on the stone table (also the work of a raccoon)

Laughter in the tent.
Awkward trips up the gravel path to the bathroom, a single flashlight beam piercing the darkness.
Thoughts processed, Scripture read, favorite book highlights discussed while gazing into the fire.
Tears of joy at the Creator's work in and through our lives.
A deer family frozen in the brush, eyeing us, we eyeing them.
Then a graceful bound, rustling leaves, and no more deer.
A snake warming itself on a rock in early spring.
A spontaneious escape from cabin fever in February. Patches of snow. Garbage bags retrieved from the car trunk. Multiple runs down the small slope. Squeals of delight. Cheeks ruddy and plump.
Hot cocoa in the lounge, fire blazing, checkers waiting.

So many rich memories! My personal retreat day welcomed them all back, savoring them like a fine chocolate.

In need of rest and refreshment, I packed a water bottle, lunch, satchel filled with my Bible, journal, camera, other enriching books, camping chair, and good shoes, and set out.

Forty minutes later, I pulled into a quiet spot overlooking the serene lake. Overcast skies gradually cleared to blue while I read, slept, jotted notes, prayed, and reflected on my journey over the past year and a half--a rich time of housing our grown missionary children, each family in various stages of their ministry. With seven grandchildren and two foster grands adding excitement to the mix.

What laughter, joy, and yes, frustration and exhaustion at times.

But I wouldn't trade any of it for any amount of money!

Yet, an intentional day away proved exhilarating . . .

Placid water with gentle current.
Lush greenery.
Rambling trails.
Gift shop full of locally-designed and fired pottery, cards, lavender saches, and miscellaneous confections.
A walk. A pause to study a fern leaf or a giant oak with branches stretched heavenward.
A yearning. A cry to God. A filling.
Peace. Joy. Love.
A new dream that only God can bring to light.
A calm assurance in God's hand at work in those I love.

Ah..h.h.h.h.h.h.......a perfect personal retreat day. 

Peaks of Otter official website

For your personal retreat or group retreat

Friday, July 24, 2015

Winnable War: Major Companies Reject Planned Parenthood

From my first college debate on the Supreme Court ruling of Roe vs. Wade in 1973, I felt passionate about preborn life. A few years later, my passion increased after I lost two babies at four months gestation.  As I held those tiny, perfectly formed bodies, my heart wept for women who were duped into thinking the babies they carried were merely globs of tissue easily discarded. 

My concern led me to volunteer as a phone counselor for the Liberty Godparent Home in Lynchburg, VA. I talked to several young moms calling from phone booths while their mothers stepped into a store. Secretly, they reached out for help, not knowing where to turn. Thankfully, they’d picked up a card with our number on it. 

On the heels of this effort, my family and I teamed up with other concerned Christians to pray at abortion mills, a.k.a Planned Parenthood. This opportunity led to several face-to-face encounters with girls coming to the clinic to discuss terminating their pregnancies. Again, thankfully, our team was present to stand in the gap between life and death for these babies, and to assure these hurting and confused moms that other options existed. 

In more recent history, my burden increased for post-abortive mothers and their babies, which led me to write a novel titled, Laughing with Lily. This story profiles a special ed teacher who's hiding a past abortion from her husband. He desperately wants children, but she can't bring herself to tell him she's infertile due to the horrendous procedure used in the killing of her baby. She can barely come to terms with it herself. Her struggle to release the past involves disturbing dreams, painful flashbacks, an unexpected encounter with a person from her past, a special friendship with an older woman, a new romance, and another surprise (I won't give it away) that she definitely doesn't see coming, nor do many readers.

When all is said and done, in this case written, my heart is to reach out to women hurting physically, emotionally, and spiritually as a result of abortion, to exalt human life at every stage and in every circumstance, and to help those who haven't experienced abortion offer grace to those who have. 

Check out the article below for one take on 
the current cultural atmosphere concerning this front-line issue.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Faith, Friends...and Chocolate!: Beach Beatitudes

Faith, Friends...and Chocolate!: Beach Beatitudes: Beach season is upon us! Perhaps your family plans to head off for your annual “chill-out” or should I say, “burn-out” since the...

Thursday, July 2, 2015

America, Land That I Love?

As I type this post, I hear my grandchildren singing at the top of their lungs, "You're a Grand Ole Flag!" And tears come to my eyes.

For I wonder, Is this a land I continue to love? Perhaps, it's because I love America that I weep. Weep for what she used to be. Weep for what she's become. And weep for my innocent grandchildren.

You see, I just contacted my state officials to ask them to respect and uphold First Amendment rights. As a result of the supreme court ruling legalizing same-sex unions (I can't call it marriage, because God defines marriage as between one man and one woman) in all 50 states, county clerks across our land who honor God's design and refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples are at risk of losing their jobs or going to jail. 

Yet, they are standing firm, and many state representatives are standing with them! Hats off to them!

What will the decision of five unelected justices mean for the future of America?

In keeping with many conservative voices, I agree that the June 26 ruling is merely the tip of the iceberg. The ACLU and others desperately want to stamp out any and all reference to religious belief and expression. Still, millions of Americans do not share their hatred for the godly principles that made this Nation great! And many are standing firm on what they believe.

Those who honor the God who chose to bless America because of her allegiance to Him will prayerfully continue to honor Him. Sadly, their commitment will likely reap serious consequences for them and their children, who are left to pick up the pieces of a fractured America. 

In reality, it has always been so. From America's inception, leaders like John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, among others, were willing to stake their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor on birthing a nation who acknowledged God, the Creator who rules in the affairs of men. George Washington's journal is full of prayers to God, His Savior, and his love for and leadership of America bore evidence of his devotion to God.

John Adams, the second President of the United States, is quoted as saying, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."*

The Bible says, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD . . ." (Psalm 33:12a, NASB). 

Building our country on His principles reaped the fruit of blessing. Conversely, restructuring a country on other than His principles reaps turmoil and destruction. 

Clearly, this is not what He desires for us and our children. 

We as believers realize that America is not our real home. We are citizens of a heavenly land. But while we are here, we are called to be salt and light. We are called to perpetuate His godly principles in a land grown dark and cold.

The hymn, "Rise Up, Oh Men of God," comes to mind. Men and women who shed God's light on this needy land. Who take seriously their call to lead their churches, families, and communities in righteousness.

Because marriage is the best visual aid of God's love for Israel and Christ's love for His Bride, the Church, it comes as no surprise that satan would target this divine institution. In this wicked endeavor, he's targeting the very heart of God, the Gospel. 

America, land that I love? Yes, but I hold an even greater allegiance. To God. 

In the words of the contemporary song, "May all who come behind us find us faithful." 

And may we gift our children and grandchildren a country that honors the Author of freedom.   

* Quote from the following source: Adams, John (2004). Cited in Kerby Anderson, America’s Christian Roots (online). Probe Ministries. In reference to a letter to the officers of the First Brigade of the Third Divison of the Militia of Massachusetts, October 11, 1798. Charles Francis Adams (Ed.), The Works of John Adams—Second President of the United States. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, & Co., 1854, Vol. IX, pp. 228-229.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Grandchildren

The end of an era is upon me, and I feel sad. Happy, but sad. Happy for the rich memories accumulated in the last year and a half as Chuck and I have housed missionary family. What a treat, and what a treasure to have children who love and serve the Lord around the world!

But with that comes the painful separation times. But with that also comes the wonderful "Welcome Back" times. 

How much we've packed into this past year . . . 

Grandkid Circus with Grandma
Backyard fun
Dress up
Tea parties
Box creations
Beach reunion
Museum trips
Drawing together
Hide & Seek
Pumpkin carving
Home schooling
Christmas decorating
Yard sale lemonade stands
Pillow fights
Cousin joy

And funny sayings from the mouth of the grandkids. Gabe alone has provided me with close to 130 unique quips! Here are a few . . .

Gabriel and Daddy were shopping in Walmart when an old lady came up and started oohing and aahing over Gabe. Then she turned her attention to Matt and struck up a conversation. She said her goodbyes then walked away.

Gabe looked up at Daddy: "Hey, I was still talking to her!


Gabe loves to make up stories. The other day, I asked him: "Now Gabe, is this a true story?" "No," he replied. "It's a lie story.


On the way to church yesterday, Gabe sat in the backseat holding an open testament, going on at a great rate. "For the strength of the power of the Lord, in the banana, of the discipleness of the Lord. Acts 1:8a, and the lion ate his face, and in the love and thankfulness of the Lord. And I will demand you to my father's mother, and ankle bites. The End. Can I take this book inside?" 


While helping me trim the yard, Gabe (3) said, "I'm a strong man, Grandma. And I'm a patient man. And sometimes, I'm a rude man." 

Well, that's just a few of the things Gabe has said over the past year and a half. I sure will miss all his cute antics, but I'm so glad I took the time to write down the stuff that comes out of his mouth.

Life is full, and I'm so blessed to be a grandmommy! Even when it means saying goodbye. I'll always treasure the fun times we've shared and pull out all those cute sayings now and again to encourage my heart and bring a smile and a chuckle. 

Perhaps you'd like to join in! If so, my kid quip book, Out of the Mouth of Gabe, would make a wonderful gift for the mom or dad in your life. And for you! Check it out at the following location: