Hugs from Heaven
It’s a beautiful spring day. The temperature is perfect, not too warm and not too cool. I came outside to try and see if my mama’s hummingbirds had made it back this year, but my eyelids felt so heavy, I had to close my eyes.
Oh, the sounds of God’s creation. The sunshine brings out the most beautiful sounds from nature. It’s as if a new song is being composed as I listen. The beat is rhythmic, slow, and steady. It reminds me of our breath, when we are breathing as we are meant to. Inhale, 2, 3, 4; Hold, 2, 3, 4; Exhale 2, 3, 4.
There are two birds in the distance that seem to be vying for a soloist spot, but they wind up performing one of the most incredible duets ever. The rest of the birds in the neighborhood chime in like the perfect backup singers.
The wind blows gently, cooling my skin and playing a tune of its own on the many windchimes hanging on my back porch. The rustling of the wind through the palm leaves is incredibly soothing and the sun’s warmth on my face is like beautiful wrapping on the best gift ever. It feels like a sweet hug from Heaven, and I can’t imagine it getting any better.
But wait, what’s THAT sound? Is that a humming sound coming from the direction of the hummingbird feeder that hangs outside my mom’s old window? Could it be?
Yes!!! I opened my eyes to see that the first hummers of the season have arrived as if right on cue. I’m quite sure that some are my mom’s old friends, including her favorite blue/green little guy with the ruby throat. He and his friends look incredibly comfortable and familiar.
Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll make sure they always have plenty of fresh food. We miss you here on earth, but I’m thrilled you are now watching the show from the best vantage point ever!
My day, my week has been made. *Happy sigh.*
Friends, if you are stressed at all, I hope you will go outside and just drink it all in, if for only a few minutes. It’s almost physically impossible to be stressed and out of sorts when you let God and nature fill your soul and senses.
We are blessed.
Amen and Ehmen.
Joy for the Generations
As I walked along with my one-year-old granddaughter today, I was overwhelmed with love and gratitude. I am so thankful that God chose me, first, to be my baby girl’s mama and now this baby girl’s grandmama.
I see little pieces of many generations all melded together into one beautiful work of art. Each time I see the twinkle in her sparkling blue eyes and the joy that fills the room every time she smiles or giggles, I see the perfect blend of all the goodness of all the generations who came before her, all wrapped into one little bitty joy-filled package.
It makes me sad to know that, in this broken world that just continues to get more and more broken, it won’t be long before the enemy tries to snatch the joy from her. But, as her grandmother and a Christian, I pledge to do my part to help teach her that the joy of the Lord has nothing to do with what happens around us. In fact, the joy of the Lord abounds despite what happens. Hard stop. Read that again. The joy of the Lord abounds despite what happens.
Let me keep it real, though. Unfortunately, I’m not walking around emanating joy 24/7. I’m still a work in progress, too. I don’t always succeed at feeling or expressing the joy of the Lord when bad things have happened. Trust me, our family has had our fair share over the generations, and I used that as an excuse to not draw closer to God for many years.
Thankfully, though, He makes a way to bring good out of whatever evil throws at us. He never gives up on us and that means He never leaves us. I have seen this so many times in my own life and that is why I am a full, devoted believer of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I need to experience things personally, and, mercifully, the Lord understands that and obliges. But it’s also good to take His Word for it to begin with.
The Bible says in its very first chapter, in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”
And, in Romans, 8:28, His Word says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good for those that love Him, to those that are called according to His purpose.”
Trusting the Words in scriptures such as these is what brings us the Joy of the Lord; an unyielding joy that
radiates from us, just like it does my one-year-old granddaughter; a joy not dependent on circumstances.
Lord, I praise your patience with me as I learn from and grow in Your Word and in the Holy Spirit. Thank you for never giving up on us and for pursuing each of us as if we were the only person on the planet. And thank you for the beautiful gift of family, children and grandchildren. May You always remain at the center of our lives and may Your joy follow us throughout our generation and the generations to come.
In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen and Ehmen.
Going All In
It’s amazing how many times and how many ways the Holy Spirit tries to get our attention. But, what’s more astounding, is the lengths some of us will often go to ignore Him.
Sometimes He whispers and sometimes it’s as if He is standing on the runway of life, trying everything to wave us down and get us to the right place. But how do we often respond? If you are like me, you sometimes look the other way and then come up with every excuse in the book for your state of total oblivion.
“Sorry, I didn’t see you,” you say, knowing full well both of you know that’s a lie from the pit of hell.
“I don’t have time right now,” you whine, knowing deep down that His timing is always perfect.
And, sometimes, you question Him or, worse yet, just downright ignore Him
We’re human. We all do it at some point. Some of us, more than others. But we are warned, this is a very dangerous practice, particularly when we do it for too long. For, if we do it too long, our hearts can become hard of hearing.
I cannot imagine forever living without the two-way communication we get when we accept Jesus and His Holy Spirit comes to reside in us. What comfort there is in knowing that we are never alone. No matter what is going on around us, He is there to guide us and give us wisdom, to protect us, to comfort us and to empower us to share our God-given talents and gifts with the people of the world so that they, too,
can see Him through us; so that they, too, will want to partake in the joy and power that comes from knowing Him.
In being completely transparent, I have been very sporadic in allowing the Holy Spirit to fully guide me during the tumultuous parts of my story that have unfolded over the past few years. Don’t get me wrong here, though, He has been with me every step of the way during this time, comforting me and giving me everything I need. Thankfully, no matter where we are, He is always all-in with us. The real beauty happens when we are all in, too!
This morning, as I breathe in all the peace and love that He has to offer me, I desire to bring myself to that same all-in status. I want to hear and feel every word He has for me; I want to embrace every bit of direction; every bit of promise and light and hope and joy and love.
Stop with me for a moment. Turn off all screens, close your eyes and breathe Him in. His breath is healing and full of abounding energy. It is rhythmic and melodious like a beautiful symphony. What’s that I hear? Ahhhh, it’s the clock keeping time, synchronizing its rhythm too. Oh, and the sweet birds outside the window are joining in the chorus.
What do you hear?
Breathe. Breathe. He loves us so much. Thank you, Lord.
Amen and Ehmen.
Stopped In Their Tracks: It’s Going To Be All Right.
Writer’s Note: I first recorded this blog entry in February 2016. It was during a time of storms and health scares and God showed up to comfort me in a miraculous and undeniable way. I share this again because God continues to guide me through a series of other storms, bringing my mind back to this very event. Thankfully, He continues to comfort me and let me know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He is right here with me and it is indeed going to be all right. I don’t necessarily know the details of how it will all work out, but He is PATIENTLY teaching me that I don’t have to know. I just have to know and TRUST Him. If you are going through anything at all right now, if you feel scared, alone, or simply need something to boost your faith, I hope you will read this. God loves us, y’all. He really, really does!
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.—Hebrews 11:1
What a beautiful, hope-inspiring verse. It flows like honey from the lips of whomever recites it and gives comfort to all who struggle with the troubles and tribulations that are guaranteed to come as long as we continue to live and breathe this side of Heaven.
However, when you are in the midst of those troubles, most of us would be less than truthful if we said that we did not ever doubt. Indeed, sometimes our confidence in what we hope for DOES wane. Sometimes we’re NOT so assured that the things we cannot see are fully under the control of a loving God who will use them for our good.
The fact is, sometimes, when life gets hard, uncertainty will often fuel fear instead of hope and, if you are like me, it becomes more about survival—just putting one foot in front of the other—than it does about resting in peace and hope. It becomes more about drifting in seclusion and fear than living in the presence of God and trusting His promises fully and completely.
Truth be told, as much as I love God and as much as I know in my heart that He is always present and always worth trusting, I have still loitered in a self-imposed seclusion at times; wandered aimlessly through shadowy valleys where cares and concerns take the form of dark and menacing shadows hell-bent on blocking the light in my life. In fact, over the past few months, it feels like I have stood frozen and wrought in fear more than I have walked in peace and rested in trust and faith, even though I absolutely know better.
Thank God I know better. Thank God for the proverbial and omnipresent life-line that He continually invites us to grab hold of and uses to pull us back to a place where we can see Him, hear Him, and feel Him. Thank God, He never gives up. No matter how many times we drift away and lose sight, He just keeps offering Himself to us over and over and over, repeatedly reminding us that He is right beside us and worthy of our trust.
So, as I continued to occupy that valley between fear and worry and complete trust in Him, God started pulling me back to Himself. And, just as He often does when there is something He wants me to really hear, He began putting the subject in my path so many times and in so many ways that it was simply impossible to deny. It seemed that He used practically every thing I read and heard to assert the same truth. Trust Me, He said again and again.
And, trust me, I had heard quite a few messages in the last couple of weeks. Realizing my spiritual and prayer life was collecting dust, I had recommitted myself to the daily habit of spending my half hour drive to and from work either praying or listening to podcasts by various preachers and teachers. It’s something I had enjoyed for several years and I was hoping that it would get me reconnected and out of this cycle of fear and worry which I had fallen into. And, of course, never one to disappoint, God Almighty, the Teacher of teachers, showed up and picked up right where we left off.
Now, I don’t want to say that He harped on and on about that one thing that I was obviously needing most at this point in time, but I will say He was quite persistent. Days turned into weeks and podcast after podcast, sermon after sermon, in one way or another, all dealt with same subject: trusting Him; living in His presence; walking and dwelling with the Holy Spirit; not fearing; and, finally, believing in His good plan for my life, no matter what.
Everyday. It didn’t matter who was delivering it, the message was the same. Steven Furtick. Andy Stanley. Joyce Meyer. Louie Giglio. Over and Over. I couldn’t hide from it. Though, truth be told, I really didn’t want to.
I wanted nothing more than to honor God and find that place of peace for myself where my trust in Him is unbridled. And, so, on my way home one day, after hearing Joyce Meyer preach on the Holy Spirit, I turned off my radio and began to pray. From the Eisenhower exit to Hartley Bridge, I prayed for God to once again heighten my ability to sense the Holy Spirit as well as my ability and desire to follow His lead. I asked to hear His voice loud and clear and to once again be able to trust that everything in my life would be used by Him. I asked for reassurance that it—that I—really was going to be okay. “God, show me that it’s going to be okay,” I pleaded.
As I rode along praying from the deepest reaches of my heart, I suddenly became overwhelmed with this feeling that I was in danger. Completely out of the blue, I sensed that there were deer in the woods parallel to the interstate I was driving on and that, at any moment, that they were going to dart in front of my car. I can’t explain it, but it was so real and so intense that I began to feel panicked.
My first instinct was to brake and slow down, for I figured that slowing down would either keep me from hitting them or, at the very least, lessen the impact. However, when I looked in my rearview mirror, there was a car practically tailgating me, rendering that plan null and void. Next, I considered changing into the middle lane, thinking that I could perhaps put a little more distance between myself and them, but, yet again, a car was fast approaching there as well.
Finally, I did the only thing I could think of left to do, and I blurted out the following plea, “Lord, please just stop them in their tracks! Stop them in their tracks, Father!”
Just like that, the feeling of looming danger dissipated just as quickly as it had started. I took a deep breath and thanked God for this unseen, but deeply felt occurrence. The sense of danger had been so real, but, thankfully, this peaceful, safe feeling felt just as real. That in itself was enough, yet my impromptu lesson on trust wasn’t quite over. Just as I was exhaling a breath of relief, my eyes were almost magnetically drawn to the woods just beyond the road’s shoulder. I couldn’t believe what I saw. There, standing tall, his body half in the woods and half out, was a deer! Head held high, looking in my direction and poised like he had literally been stopped in his tracks!
Though I would have been content with the feeling of relief I experienced a split second earlier, God knew that I needed to see it with my own two eyes. In fact, if you recall, I had just asked Him to come close and to show me that it was going to be okay; that I was going to be okay; and He did just as I had asked! Astounded, I immediately began to gush words of thanksgiving and praise.
Oh, how very much he taught me in those precious seconds and in the hours that followed as I recounted this beautiful experience.
For one, my initial response, as you may recall, was to try and do something myself. I checked the rearview mirror to see if I could slow down and then checked the side mirror to see if I could change lanes. Then and only then did I call out to our Lord to take control of the situation. I don’t know about you, but I do that all the time. I try everything in my power first, when I could save myself a whole lot of trouble by just asking God for help to begin with.
Secondly, I fully believe the woods are symbolic of things that have been going on in my life. Unknown things, such as my health, have been weighing heavily on me and causing angst. But, in just a few moments while driving down I-75, our beautiful Father in Heaven sent me a reminder that just like He controlled that deer in the woods that He was also in control of my health, my future and anything else that I might not be able to see. All I have to do is call out to Him.
Lord, I will never be able to thank You enough for answering me when I call out to You and for being relentless in Your pursuit of me. No matter how many times my trust falters, You never, ever leave my side. Thank you for SHOWING Yourself to me when I need it most and doing so in such a way that I know, without a doubt, that it is You. I shall never forget the image of that deer standing on the roadside, half in the woods and half out, obviously stopped in his tracks just by my asking. Your word says, “Ask, and it shall be given; seek, and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.” And, as always, you are true to Your word. My dear sweet Jesus, I promise to work on trusting in You completely; to remember that You see everything that is going on—even the things behind the scenes—and that, no matter what, you will use it all for my good, all because I’m your child and I love you. Thank you for loving me so and for teaching me to look at everything through eyes of faith and trust. Oh what a difference it makes. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen and Ehmen!
Beauty in Promise
As I lay here looking out my bedroom window, comforted by the view of the trees that help make my home, I am moved by how beautiful they are, even in the winter as they stand stark and naked. I guess in comparison to the lush greenery of spring and summer and the breathtaking colors of fall, others might not think they are so spectacular. But I do. Because I know what lies beneath and inside. I know what is to come. And so it should be with all of life. We should focus on the beauty in today, no matter what the season, for it is the knowledge of what is to come that makes the difference. All things adorned in hope and promise are a sight to behold. Amen and Ehmen.
Hummingbirds from Heaven
My mama loved hummingbirds. In fact, one of her very favorite pastimes was sitting in her recliner and watching as the little cuties dipped, dived, swooped and hovered while sipping the sweet nectar we prepared and put in the bird feeders hanging just outside her window.
She could tell you which little birdies were repeat visitors from previous years and which ones were new to the neighborhood. She could tell you which were the most aggressive and which were a little on the sweeter side like the nectar they enjoyed.
But, for me personally, perhaps the most memorable thing about my mother’s love for hummingbirds is the times when they were absent. I will never forget that day in May 2020. Like pretty much everyone on the planet, the pandemic was taking a toll on my mama, and she wanted nothing more than to see her beloved hummingbirds once again dancing in the air around the feeder. But, for some reason, sans the two that visited a few times that March when the feeder first went up, there had been no little bird visitors that year.
She was so disappointed, and I was disappointed for her. So, on the morning of May 15, 2020, as she sat sleeping in her chair, her face turned towards the window as if she had fallen asleep looking for her little friends, I began to pray and asked God to please send her a hummingbird to brighten her day.
Sure enough, just a few hours later, as I delivered her some lunch, she was beaming as she excitedly announced she had finally seen a hummer! Was it a coincidence? Absolutely not! That was all our loving Creator. When I told her about my prayer, she sat smiling for hours, a few tears of joy trickling down her cheeks. You could tell she felt His love. I did too
The birds disappeared again after that day, but I think that, too, was by design, giving Him another chance to show the two of us just how much He really cares about us. Fast forward to July of 2020. Mama had not been feeling good for several days and I was very worried. She had some cold symptoms and, of course, COVID was top of mind. So, as I was outside on my lawn tractor mowing the grass, I began to pray fervently.
I asked God for protection for her, for Billie and the sweet baby we had recently learned she was carrying, for my brother who was fighting cancer, and for me and all my family and friends. The pandemic had been so overwhelming. As I prayed, I also asked God if He could send us a sign that everything was indeed going to be okay. Then, I decided to be even more specific. I still remember the words that came from my heart: “Lord,” I prayed, “please let mom see a hummingbird. When I have asked before, You have always faithfully sent her one, so will you please send at least one more?”
I came back in the house and honestly forgot about it until the next day when I went into her room to check on her. As I stood in front of her asking what she wanted for breakfast, she began to grin from ear to ear.
“Oooooh, I forgot to tell you, I saw a hummingbird yesterday. It’s the first one I’ve seen since May,” she said. “It was just the one, but he seemed to really fill up at the feeder and hovered in front of the window for a while.”
I could hardly speak. This time tears rolled down my face as I told her about my prayer. We both felt Him whispering in our ears, “It’s going to be alright. I’m here.”
Today, the day after we laid her to rest, I still hear those words, “It’s going to be alright. I’m here.”
I love you, mama.
Just beyond the waves…
Sometimes it feels like I’m standing heart-deep in the ocean. I see the horizon, the keeper of hope and dreams, in all of its glory. Below it is sparkling waters beckoning me to come in. Above it is a vast expanse of clear blue sky, Heaven’s doorway, it seems.
But just underneath the surface, there is an undertow so strong that it sometimes feels like I can barely stand, much less move forward. I know it is the work of the enemy, life’s antagonist, and yet I still sometimes let it take me under.
What I have to remember is that it doesn’t have to. All I really have to do is breathe in purposefully and deep, take the hand of my Father and face that fear head on, sometimes standing firm, sometimes powering through and sometimes dipping just below the surface and re-emerging in that sweet, glassy calmness that lies just beyond the waves. For our Father knows that once He gets us far enough out, to the point that we can longer touch bottom, to that that place where we are no longer fastened to the world, the undertow has no more power over us.
The horizon, the keeper of hope and dreams, awaits our arrival as the doors of Heaven fling open wide and the glory of God shines for all to see.
It’s a God Thing!
Read 1 Corinthians, Chapter 3, this morning before I headed off to work. Verses 16 and 17 hopped off the page.
“Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy and you are that temple.”
God lives in me! Why in the world do I worry about such trivial things? Perhaps that phrase, “in the world,” is a clue. I must quit thinking so small and acting as if it is all up to me or the people around me. It is a God thing. I am a God thing. I have nothing to fear. Thank You, Jesus. Amen and Ehmen.