Saturday, October 31, 2009

Heritage Keepers

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Trailblazers . . . founding fathers and mothers . . . faithful examples of Christ-likeness . . . treasured church members . . . beloved family members . . . our heroes of faith.

Faithful . . . not always perfect in performance . . . not super saints . . . but FAITHFUL!

A generation characterized by strength, perseverance, integrity, hard work, courage, devotion to family - and a deep, abiding love for God, country, and their brothers and sisters.

Sunday we celebrated the fruits of their labors; we called it homecoming, and it was a wonderful day. But all the while, we were so very aware of the homegoing of so many of them. How thankful we were that Aunt Minnie, Uncle I.B. and Aunt Lizzie Belle were able to worship with us! We missed Mr. Cecil, Mr. Herb and Uncle Johnnie, who weren't feeling well enough to attend. We've named this group our Heritage Keepers, and they've lived up to that title in an exemplary way! Each year, though, their number is smaller, their collective voices are weaker and their footsteps are slower. But that fact does nothing to minimize the impact they've had on our lives! What a legacy! Their undying faith in God and His Word and His plan for their lives speak volumes - in spite of declining health and advancing age.

These precious folks have truly kept our heritage alive. And we do have "a goodly heritage" as the Psalmist said so long ago. When the last of their generation has gone on to celebrate the never-ending and greatest homecoming of all, I wonder who'll fill their shoes? Which of us will be worthy to be called a Heritage Keeper? It's a sobering thought . . . a challenge for my generation . . . a call to examine our lives and our commitment. We . . . I . . . can't fail to keep our Godly heritage alive. So much is at stake! So many, including our own children and grandchildren, are depending on us! And so is God . . . who has called us to be faithful! Not perfect . . . just faithful! With His help, we can do it!

"Faith of our fathers (and mothers) . . . holy faith. . .
We will be true to thee 'til death."

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Just One!

Just one! Just one brilliantly colored leaf! But against the cold, black asphalt, its simple beauty shines . . . giving testimony to the splendor of autumn.

Just one! Just one Christ-like individual radiating the beauty of Jesus in our sin-darkened world . . . giving testimony to The Light of the World.

Just one! Just one "only begotten Son" who made the ultimate sacrifice for our sins - once and for all . . . giving testimony to the immeasurable, everlasting love of God.

Just one! But, oh, the power of one!

"It is enough that Jesus died and that He died for me . . . "

Monday, October 19, 2009

He's a God of Surprises!

On Friday the fall foliage was bursting with color even though fog shrouded the mountains at the higher elevations, and rain drizzled now and then.

The next day the season's first snow blanketed the reds, oranges, and yellows that God had splashed all over the hills and valleys.
What a surprise for tourists like us - and for those who lived there, since snow doesn't usually fall in Tennessee/North Carolina in mid-October! For John David and I, it was an unexpected bonus to an already-wonderful week. Although rain had fallen most of the week, our spirits had not been dampened nor was our sightseeing hampered too much. But on our last day to experience the awesome beauty of the spectacular Smokies, we had hoped that the day would be clear and sunny for our last drive up the mountains into North Carolina. So, we were just a tiny bit disappointed when a cold drizzle was the forecast for the day.

Nevertheless, we decided to drive up to Cherokee to visit the farm museum. Needless to say, we didn't know that God had a huge surprise for us up on the mountain . . . even better than sunshine and colorful mountainsides! We had not driven too far when a few snowflakes began to fall . . . and we were as excited as little kids at Christmastime! The farther we drove, the more the snow intensified . . . along with our excitement. When we arrived at Clingman's Dome, which is 6000+ feet in elevation, the atmosphere was electrified as vacationers tried to take in the unbelievable beauty - some in their shorts and many, like us, wishing for warmer clothing!

It was a magical time and one that we will long remember. I like to think that God looked down from heaven with a smile on His face and delighted in sharing His awesome creativity with us. It was a simple thing for Him to cover the beauty of fall with snowflakes in all shapes and sizes. (I'm reminded that no two snowflakes are the same!) And I believe He enjoyed turning our disappointment into joy and our last outing into an unforgettable experience. It was a perfect ending to a special week . . . almost like an early Christmas gift! Without a doubt, every good and perfect gift is from above . . . just like the snow!

And speaking of surprises: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. Now that's one surprise I'm looking forward to . . . when rainy days and disappointments are forever gone . . . when I climb the last mountain . . . and soar to heights unknown!

"I can only imagine . . . I can only imagine."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Simple Gesture . . . A Heart Touched

"A picture is worth a thousand words!" As an amateur photographer, I believe that. But so is a bouquet of wildflowers handed to you by a little boy with a big smile on his face!

"I saw them when we were riding over there (and he pointed), and I picked them for you!" That's all he said. But words weren't really necessary. The little bouquet said it all!

I gave him a hug, told him he had made my day, and off he and his friend rode on the four-wheeler. A simple gesture . . . yellow and purple wildflowers . . . a little boy pleased with himself . . . and my heart touched!


"Reach out and touch somebody's hand (heart). . . Make this world a better place . . . if you can."

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Rose Is Not Always Just a Rose

"A rose is a rose is a rose" may be a well-known quote, but it's not always true! Not when it comes to the Confederate Roses now blooming in my yard! The fluffy, delicate pink beauties are not just any rose . . . for they have a very special meaning to me. My brother Charles, who died from cancer in 2005, rooted limbs from his trees and gave them to me to plant. And so each year since then, I eagerly await the first bloom on my two trees.

Yesterday was the day for three huge blooms, the one above and two others, to push back their protective green coverings. (I know those green coverings have a name; I just can't remember my science lessons on plants!) It was a gray, rainy morning, but that didn't stop the cycle that God has put in place. Even though they didn't open completely yesterday, their unfolding blossoms brightened the sunless skies . . . and my heart. The roses would have bloomed rain or shine!

You've heard the saying, I'm sure: Bloom wherever God plants you. I believe we will be blessed . . . and encourage others . . . if we carry that thought a step farther: Bloom wherever God plants you - in the sunny times and in the dark, rainy seasons. That last part . . . the dark, rainy season part . . . is not so easy. In fact, it is a challenge that only God's abiding presence and grace can accomplish in us. Lord, help me to abide close to You because others are watching how I react in the difficult times.

One more thought: Memories of Charles came alive with the blooming of the roses, but these special flowers that remind me so much of him will soon wither and fall off the stems. But those memories I've stored in my mind's scrapbook will never die. His influence on my life will always live on!

And so will my influence live on . . . and on. That's the one thing I will leave behind. I pray that it will encourage and brighten the lives of those who follow me . . . on bright, sunny days . . . and when it's pouring rain.

"May all who come behind us find us faithful . . ."

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Timely Lesson

As I threw three months into the garbage can, I was struck with a sobering thought: Those days are gone, and I get get them back! Actually, I had just torn off the pages for the months July, August, and September from a little calendar that hangs on the side of my refrigerator. Obviously, I don't check it often!

Where did the summer go? What did I do with those 92 days? Was the Lord pleased with my use of them? I thought of the Scripture that speaks of "redeeming the time because the days are evil." The Message says it this way: So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! (Ephesians 5:15-16).

I don't believe this means we are to be constantly checking our every step; that's not what the abundant life is all about. Rather, when we commit our days to the Lord and do our best to keep in touch and in step with Him, He will guide us. It is His design that we keep all the necessary aspects of life in perspective: family, work, play, worship, rest, service, and quiet time alone with Him. Learning how to do that takes maturity, discipline, and a commitment to be good stewards of our time. As the kids song says: He's still working on me . . .

Because He loves me, He jolted my attention today. I don't think for a minute that He, The Great Life Coach, did not plan this "life lesson" for me. With countless people and problems on His mind, He took the time to speak to me. He always uses His time wisely, and not for a moment does He forget me! Lord, help me not to "throw away" the moments you give me, and teach me to live a balanced life.

"Take time to be holy. Speak oft with thy Lord.
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends with God's children; help those who are weak.
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek."
-William D. Longstaff, 1882-