Tuesday, August 8, 2017

MAKIN' MEM'RIES and LEAVIN' a LEGACY







MAKIN’ MEM’RIES and LEAVIN’ A LEGACY 

This week Summer celebrates her 10th birthday. Ten years ago, on August 9, 2007, she arrived, making me a grandma!  I can still remember the joy my heart felt as I caught my first glimpse of her, the first time I held her, the first time she smiled at me, and the day she named me “Ma.”  I never knew my heart could feel so much love.  

Of all the hats I’ve ever worn, I cherish most the one that says “MA.” That role has challenged me to be at my best, making the most of the time we have together and creating special moments that will make a treasury of happy mem’ries for her to look back on.

As she stops to reminisce, I pray that she will remember a grandma who always had time for her, reading and playing and laughing and singing, and all the while passing down to her a legacy of love and faith and hope that will anchor her and enable her to know throughout all her years - Life At Its Best.

Somewhere in her first days, I sat down and wrote out a list of things I wanted to pass along to her as we journeyed along together, things that would prepare her for life and equip her for making a difference in her world, things that would show her glimpses of eternity, and expose her to the God who designed her and has a special plan for her life.  These are the things I wrote:

First of all, I would pass along the collection of biblical truths and spiritual principles that have given my life meaning and direction and purpose, aware of the awesome thought that just perhaps, some of her first impressions of who God is could be what she sees of Him in me.

I would teach her the importance of a relationship with Jesus and that God’s Word and prayer go hand in hand in nurturing that relationship, her spiritual growth, and her usefulness to Him.

I would teach her that she is God’s special creation, the only one of her kind, gifted to do the special work that He had in mind for her to do before the foundation of the world.

I would teach her the importance of attitude and her outlook on life and encourage her to live beyond the level of mediocrity, choosing to soar through life, modeling excellence in all that she does.

I would hand down to her a strong work ethic based on one of my life verses, “Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Colossians 3:23).  I pray that work for her will never be a burden but a blessing to enjoy.

I would hand down to her a grateful heart, an attitude of gratitude, and a positive spirit that will enable her to see and appreciate God’s goodness and blessings.

I would teach her to trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
I would pass down a tender, caring spirit that would make her a help and blessing to others and always look for the best in them.

I would pass along a special love for animals, that she might know the joy and companionship of animal friends throughout her life.

I would teach her the importance of character, integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, pure motives, and to choose the right even when it’s not popular.

I would teach her to be an observer of life and nature and an eager learner throughout her years.

I would teach her to stop often to smell the roses, to find pleasure in the simple things of life - the sound of falling rain, the blue of the sky, the beauty of a rainbow, the smell of a magnolia blossom, a sweet gardenia, and honeysuckle, the warmth of a fire, the taste of hot chocolate, the touch of a hand that says, “I love you.”

I would teach her to be a player in life instead of a spectator, to explore and find her interests, to follow her leanings and develop her gifts, to find her own special place at home and school and church and within her circle of friends where she can blossom and make a difference.

I would help her discover the gift of solitude.  In a noisy, fast-paced world that doesn’t place a lot of value on silence, I would remind her of the need to pull away from the busyness of life to enjoy time for rest and reflection and renewal.  

I would pass along to her a love for the sound of music and an appreciation for the songwriters and singers and musicians who write and sing and play the music she loves to hear, so that perhaps one day, she’ll be making music of her own.

I would teach her that God has planted eternity in her heart and has created a special place in it to be filled by only Him.    

I would teach her the Bible stories and verses and songs that I taught her daddy many years ago, praying for her as I prayed for him, that one day she’ll walk in the truth she’s been taught, a beautiful child of the King.  

Out in the margin of every Bible I own, I have written Summer’s name, alongside her daddy’s.  Forty-five years ago John’s words best expressed the longing of my heart for him, and again, now, they express my heart’s desire for her:  “I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.”  

As I write these things again, ten years later, I’m thinkin’ - these are still the things I would choose to pass along to her, and I’m wondering - How have I done?  In my heart I feel we’ve made good progress in these ten years.  On Friday morning, May 26th I was so blessed to be with Summer to hear her pray to accept Jesus as her Savior and Lord, and now, she’s ready to be baptized!   I could ask for nothing more!


Monday, November 21, 2016

HAPPY THANKSGIVING



HELLO FRENDS,


FALL IS IN THE AIR, Thanksgiving Day is in a couple of days, and I pause to thank God that life is good and my days filled with so many blessings!  My spiritual blessings are immeasurable, and my material blessings too many to count.

















THIS YEAR the constant awareness of His Presence, Power, and Peace - the consciousness of His love and involvement in the daily affairs of my life - the promise that He cares for me and hears my every prayer - and the presence of my family and so many special people alongside me on my journey - are riches beyond description.

HIS WORD continues to reach into the very center of my days, touching my life with wisdom and guidance for every problem and challenge I encounter.

IT BECOMES my Map when I feel lost - my Light when darkness surrounds me - my Hope when doubt and fear cloud my vision.  

WHEN I FEEL myself becoming entangled in the Temporary -  trivial things that would consume my days and acclimate my mind to worldly thinking - it is there to point out my failures and to get me back on track to the Eternal.   

A CHILD-LIKE FAITH and HEART KNOWLEDGE of the SCRIPTURES keep my relationship with JESUS fresh and growing - and every new day an exciting Adventure of Faith.  

THE TIMELESS BIBLICAL TRUTHS and SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLES that have anchored me for so many years - continue to hold and enable me to know Life At Its Best!















SOMEWHERE IN MY EARLY YEARS at FBC in McRae, I memorized Psalm 100.  I’m so glad the words still come to mind:

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.  Serve the Lord with gladness:  Come before His presence with singing.  Know ye that the Lord, He is God.  It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise:  Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name, for the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His Truth endureth to all generations.”

WHEN I THINK OF His love and forgiveness and salvation and all of the grace and mercy He has poured into my life, I feel something of what Andrea Crouch must have felt when he wrote his beautiful song, My Tribute:

“How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me - Things so undeserved, and yet You give to prove your love for me - The voices of a million angels cannot express my gratitude - All that I am and ever hope to be - I owe it all to Thee -  To God be the glory - To God be the glory - To God be the glory for the things He has done - With His blood, He has saved me - With His power, He has raised me - To God be the glory for the things He has done!”

WHAT A WONDERFUL time of year!  In our excitement and anticipation of the Christmas season, let us not skip hurriedly over Thanksgiving.  It is such a special time for being with family and counting our blessings!

I PAUSE NOW to thank Him for YOU, my HEART to HEART friends!  Young and old, old and new, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”

MAY OUR HEARTS be filled with so much of His love and such a spirit of joy and gratitude that it will spill out into the lives of those around us to bless and pass along to them a spirit of thanksgiving!

GOD BLESS!  MUCH LOVE!  CHERYL



Wednesday, July 13, 2016

FRIDAY NIGHT AT THE BOWLING ALLEY

MY MIND GOES BACK to a Friday night in October of 1962, the 19th to be exact.  I was in my Junior year at Telfair County High School.  The new boy at school had asked me out for a date, and we were having fun at a little bowling alley in Hazlehurst. 

LITTLE DID I KNOW that Friday night date would forever change life as I'd known it, nor that it would be the first night of a lifetime of years together.  And little did I know that this "son of a preacher" would one day be one, too!  

OUR 54 YEARS TOGETHER (48 married on June 1, 2016) HAVE COME AND GONE SO QUICKLY.  Our marriage could be characterized by the little saying, "Marriages are made in heaven, but so are thunder and lightning!"  There has been a lot of thunder and lightning mixed in with the sunshine.  Looking back, I realize the stormy times are what brought us closer to the Lord and each other, and that He has been the glue that's held us together all these years.

TODAY, my high school sweetheart is still my favorite preacher and still the love of my life.  At this age,  more aware than ever how rapidly life passes by, how short life is, how uncertain our time here is, and how unpredictable our days are - we don't take a day together for granted.  We wake up every morning, thanking God for another day together and asking that we live it in light of eternity, living it to the fullest, and squeezing it dry of every opportunity to make a difference while we're here.

OUR LIST OF THINGS THAT REALLY MATTER continues to grow shorter - our relationship with Jesus, our family, our friends, and the opportunities He brings our way to help and encourage those alongside us on this journey of life.

THE OLDER WE GET, the more we enjoy sailin' down the river of mem'ries back to our roots and where we've been on the way to where we are today, remembering the people and places that have been a part of each age and stage of our lives, and because of our faith in our Lord Jesus,  believing THE BEST IS YET TO COME!





Friday, May 6, 2016

AMERICA - MY HOME SWEET HOME




I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG 
OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AND TO THE REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS
ONE NATION, UNDER GOD, INDIVISIBLE,
WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.

I LOVE LOOKIN’ AT THIS PICTURE OF SUMMER and rememberin’ that beautiful fall afternoon in 2011 when she marched around in the driveway with the garden flag saying those words I had begun each school day with for all of my thirty-four years in the classroom. They were ingrained in me, but new to her, and she was proud she had just learned to recite them. Around and around she went, repeating the words, though not really understanding their significance, especially “one nation under God.”


LAST NIGHT I WROTE THESE THOUGHTS IN MY JOURNAL: “My heart is troubled tonight at the thought that our country has endorsed abortion and put its stamp of approval on same-sex marriage, two issues which are in direct conflict to what God says. 


AS A NATION, we have chosen to okay taking the life of unborn children created by God, and we have chosen to ignore God’s definition of the family as one man and one woman. It is clear that we have turned our backs on God and on the principles upon which our country was founded. How could it be that a nation who has for years sent missionaries to other countries proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ has turned into a mission field itself?


WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO OUR STRONG, GOD-FEARING NATION?











FROM THE AMERICAN PATRIOT’S BIBLE  


THE JUDEO-CHRISTIAN ETHIC

WHEN OUR COUNTRY’S FOUNDING FATHERS wrote the first documents, they leaned upon a common acceptance of the Judeo-Christian Ethic, a system of moral and social values that originate with the Old and New Testaments of the Word of God. They embraced 7 Principles as the basis for a civilized nation. Note the first 3.


PRINCIPLE # 1 - THE DIGNITY OF HUMAN LIFE


THE DIGNITY OF HUMAN LIFE is not just a principle of the Bible - it is the first principle of any civilized society. If a nation does not grant ultimate respect and protection to both the born and the unborn, all other professed morals and values are meaningless.


PRINCIPLE # 2 - THE TRADITIONAL MONOGAMOUS MARRIAGE


OUR SOCIETY HAS BEEN BASED on God’s plan for the holy union between one man and one woman. When that plan is lost, marriage and family become meaningless, and a nation and its people will follow the road to ruin. World history has proven it again and again. Preserving the traditional family is vital to the future of any great nation.


I SHARE THESE THOUGHTS TODAY - certainly not as an expert on national and world affairs, and certainly not as a Bible scholar - but out of convictions that run deep in my heart as a child of God with a childlike faith and a heart knowledge of the Scriptures - and years of walking with a God who has been faithful to me - a God who has given me confidence and stability in life and enabled me to stand firm among the strong currents of these troubled and ever-changing days.


IN A WORLD WHERE IT MAY NOT BE POPULAR OR POLITICALLY CORRECT TO STAND - in a nation that has - as in the OT prophet Jeremiah’s day - ignored the WORD of GOD - I pray that I will never be ashamed of my Savior and never ashamed to share the Love and Light and Life of His Glorious Gospel and the Hope I’ve found in Him.



THAT IS MY PRAYER FOR EACH OF US - as we live to poke holes through some of the spiritual darkness around us - that many around us might come to know Jesus and Life At Its Best!





“Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, 
shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 
 Hold firmly to the Word of Life." 
 Philippians 2:14-16





































Thursday, May 5, 2016

HE SET MY HEART TO MUSIC



He set my heart to music

He gave me words to sing

He set my heart to music

I hear His praises ring


DURING MY EARLY YEARS there were three songs that in a very distinct way helped shape my impression of who God is.

THE SONG “HE” painted for me a picture of a God big and powerful enough to speak the world into being,  but small and personal enough to come and live within my child’s heart.   

“I BELIEVE”  became a personal expression of faith in the God I was coming to know.  

“YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE” gave me needed assurance that God was always with me.

“HE” was written in 1954, the music by Jack Richards and the lyrics by Richard Mullan. Al Hibbler was the artist who made it popular. 






I WAS EIGHT YEARS OLD IN 1954, the year “He” was written.  I was thrilled one summer afternoon when Mama surprised me with the record.  





I REMEMBER PLAYING THE SONG over and over again and how God seemed so near as I sang the words.  I didn’t realize then that this was one of  my first real worship experiences.


He can turn the tides and calm the angry sea
He alone decides who writes the symphony
He lights every star 
that makes our darkness bright
He keeps watch 
all through each long and lonely night.


He still finds the time 
to hear a child’s first prayer
Saint or sinner call and always find Him there
Though it makes Him sad 
to see the way we live
He’ll always say, “I forgive.”


He can grant a wish 
or make a dream come true
He can paint the clouds 
and turn the gray to blue
He alone knows where 
to find the rainbow’s end
He alone can see what lies beyond the bend


He can touch a tree 
and turn the leaves to gold
He knows every lie that you and I have told
And though it makes Him sad 
to see the way we live
He’ll always say, “I forgive.”

“I BELIEVE” was written in 1953 by Ervin Drake, Irvin Graham, Jimmy Shirl, and Al Stallman.




I FIND THE STORY behind this song interesting.  A lady by the name of Jane Froman introduced it on her television show, making it the first hit song ever introduced on TV.

TROUBLED BY the uprising of the Korean War in 1952 so soon after World War 11, she asked these four writers to compose a song that would offer hope and faith to America.  Frankie Lane was the artist who would first record it.

THE WORDS boosted my faith every time I heard them and still do today.

I believe for every drop of rain that falls
A flower grows
I believe that somewhere in the darkest night
A candle glows
I believe for everyone who goes astray
Someone will come and show the way
I believe, I believe

I believe above the storm the smallest prayer
Will still be heard
I believe that Someone 
in the great somewhere
Hears every word
Every time I hear a newborn baby cry
or touch a leaf or see the sky
Then I know why I believe.

“YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE” was a show tune from the 1945 Rogers and Hammerstein Broadway Musical, Carousel.



ONE OF MY FAVORITE GROUPS, THE LETTERMEN, recorded it in 1965 and closed out each live performance with it for many years, always singing it A Capella.

THE LYRICS always brought me a very real sense of peace and instilled in me hope that no matter my circumstances, I would never walk alone.

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
There’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone.

TODAY my favorite artist of all three songs is Tammy Wynette.  

THERE'S SOMETHING about her sad country voice that brings back the sweetest memories of the days when these three songs first touched my heart and brought God so near.