"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Beaten Path

My husband and I took a little day trip a couple of weeks ago to Providence Canyon -- also known as the Little Grand Canyon here in Georgia. It's really quite a fascinating place, especially if you've never had the opportunity to see the real mama of all canyons out in Arizona, which I have not. I'm not sure a 100 degree Saturday is the time to go, but nevertheless, we did, and we enjoyed it. I also didn't realize a lot of walking might be the order of the day, so I didn't actually dress for a trek. But whereas it kept us from actually hiking to the bottom of the canyon, it didn't keep us from some serious sight seeing from the lookout decks situated around the park.

Even with the trees and shrubbery in full season, we were able to grasp the beauty of the rock formations and the powerful landscaping. I can't tell you if a proterozoic or paleozoic strata was evident, but I can tell you the soft canyon soil was beautiful. And whereas The Grand Canyon supposedly took 6 millions years to form, the massive gullies at Providence Canyon were caused by erosion due to poor farming practices in the 1800's.

But this is what really caught my attention. To the undiscerning eye, it's just a trail going around the bend. But on closer observation, one notices that it's a trail dropping off onto the canyon floor below. You see, the canyon continues to expand, and what use to be a safe passage is now almost certain death. What at one time was the beaten path is now a leap to destruction.

God says that His Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105), and that as He directs me in that path of His commands, I will find delight (Psalm 119:35). And as I see it, any other way is just a step off into a pit.

Just an ordinary moment...

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Fragrance from the Past

A funny thing happened today on the way to prepare for VBS. I was going through my buffet that my great-aunt Mea left me in her will some 25 years ago looking for my Seder cloth so I could teach the children about Passover, (Don't worry, that's just a portion of the lesson. It all leads up to "Don't be afraid!... He is risen from the dead!") when I realized something very familiar. I smelled my aunt Mea's house and, wow, did the memories flood my senses and emotions. After 25 years, it "smelled" like yesterday -- and was very precious. You see, she and my uncle Bernie had no children and I was theirs! They bought me my first piano, my first high heeled shoes, and when I turned 13, my first bottle of real perfume: Chanel #5. Oh, my!

Yes. I spent many a day being catered to at their home which was only around the corner. In the meantime, she also taught me many of my social graces: like no "sopping" in public (but at her house it was okay); like "ladies don't chew gum in public," and like when the Mateuse runs out at the women's garden club meeting, fill the bottle with cheap wine and keep pouring. Yes, sweet memories...

But it does make one wonder: what kind of fragrance will I leave behind?

If Mea were alive, she'd die if she knew I was putting this picture out for all to see. Even though it hung over her living room fireplace for decades, she never really liked it. I've heard it was because the photographer showed the portrait to her "best" friend first before he showed it to her. They were funny that way.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Robert!!!

Today marks a special day. God knew our family would need a fresh perspective on life, and so He granted us Robert Thomas McLendon. One thing that characterizes this boy is his complete inability to be in a hurry, and that morning of June 12, 1986 was my first indication. His older brother had made his debut in 5 hours, and his younger sister would take 6. But, again, not one to get in a hurry, Robert dragged his entrance into the world to a good solid 9 hours. Thanks, son.

God endowed Robert with many gifts and talents with a most prominent one being his quick wit and the propensity to make others laugh. He taught us that even serious moments can hold an element of frivolity. God also added a color of sensitivity to Robert's make-up that allows him to feel another's pain as well as celebrate in their joys. He gifted him with a sharp mind enabling him to think deep thoughts and discern God's ways. But more than anything, the Lord gave to Robert a heart to know Him -- and that has been his passion for almost all of his 23 years.

On a spring night in Vidalia, GA in April of 1990, Robert said he wanted to ask Jesus into his heart. Of course, I was all over it. I suggested we get down on our knees and pray, but before I could hit the carpet, that 3 1/2 year old was lying prostrate on my bedroom floor. Feeling a little uncomfortable about that at the time, I suggested again, "Maybe we should just get down on our knees," to which he responded, "No, I want to do it like this." And "like this" is what we did, and the Lord Jesus Christ came into that precious heart and made Robert His child. And now some 20 years later, Robert still rarely misses an opportunity to share Christ, whether it be with words or without. He is just as likely to promise a homeless man in Miami a beer if he'll just listen a moment and allow him to pray with him as he is to offer a young man in the youth group in his church an afternoon of hanging out.

Robert, you offer this world a flavor of God of which most have never before tasted. May your and Kristin's lives, together and individually, continue to be characterized by a holy passion and an extravagant affection for Him as you go into the world and incarnate Christ.

I love you so much! Happy birthday, son!!!

Only one life will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last. -Unknown

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Where God Hangs Out

I’ve said for years that God hangs out at the beach. Why? Because every time I go, I seem to encounter Him in a fresh way. Of course, when I was in the mountains this past November, He seemed to meet me there, too. And today I discovered a new place. In fact, I think He showed up first.

My husband had a business-of-sorts meeting today to the botanical resort of Callaway Gardens and asked if I wanted to go along for the ride. The drive over would be nice and I figured I could find a spot to sit and read and enjoy nature. So I agreed, packed me a bag of books, some bottled water, not to mention a bag of fresh cherries and a square of chocolate, and my trusty folding chair. Oh, and I prayed. I asked God for His favor – and a place to park (not the car; me) for those 4 hours of waiting while my husband’s meeting was going on.

Upon arriving, I inspected the area and thought maybe I ought to stay at The Discovery Center instead of venturing too far and risk getting lost. So I retuned to the truck and retrieved my “gear” and headed to the back of the Center where there was not only a beautiful lake setting, but a deck and a restaurant. (Note: I still ate my cherries and chocolate – but opted for tea instead of bottled water.)

Checking my options for repose, my eyes fell upon an empty table with only one chair pulled up to it. I thought, “That’s it.” And so I settled in for the next 4 hours.

This was my view.

Though there were a number of tables in the area, only 3 were in this particular location and on this specific deck. At the middle table was a family of 7. Two adults and their 5 children ranging from about 10-20 years in age. They had brought their coolers and were having lunch when the dad pulled out a “storybook” Bible and said he was going to read the account of Creation. And so, instead of pulling out my own reading material, I settled in for story time.

What a treat! Here I was sitting outside on a lake on this beautiful Spring morning, ducks literally waddling around my feet, fish and turtle swimming below me, and bubble bees flying all about me, and I get to hear the Creation story read out loud to me! Now just tell me: is God not the coolest?
I'm sorry I don't have a picture of the bumble bee. I just wasn't thinking.

And that was just the beginning. As I sat there those many hours, people came and went, and I took note of every last one of them. (What can I say? I’m a people watcher.) And without exception, every family, or friends, or group that sat down at those tables, said a blessing before their meal. Without exception, I said! In a day when all we hear is the decline of faith and the family, it was the most refreshing thing to watch. Sometimes it was the grandfather who said grace. Another time, it was the wife. One time, a young woman just lowered her head for a moment in silent prayer. A husband who removed his beret-like cap before bowing his head and praying with his wife. But my personal favorite: a child singing, “God our Father, God our Father, we give thanks. We give thanks…” My heart just about burst.

And that was a good thing, because of late, my heart has felt empty, and I have undergone a sense of worthlessness; even uselessness in ministry. But today I got a taste of a bigger picture; something larger than myself. A worship scene in heaven even.

What is it about a change in scenery that tends to give us a change in perspective? Does where we are geographically truly affect where we are spiritually? Could it be that new places open us up to new experiences. That they get us out of our routine and help us see God with new eyes. Maybe that’s why I always seem to run into God at the beach or at the mountains. Because geography really does affect spirituality.

Interestingly, I only got to a small portion of the material I took to read today. But it was a fitting fraction. It was eight timely articles on … worship.

Today was made to spawn such as that. After all, God hangs out at botanical gardens.

This is Bess. She hung pretty tight with me the entire time. She was usually under my chair.

I think it's because Bert was making a play for her.