marymcleary

Covering my angst with the soothing wisdom from my mother's prayer journals


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God Is Answering Your Prayers

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While writing Heart Whispers from the Old Testament, I heard God say, “I have a Promised Land for each of my children.” Claiming it requires a faith that comes from knowing the Truth of God revealed in His Word.

As I scanned my social media pages, it was easy to see how many friends and family members were struggling to reach their destiny when this line popped out, God is working in your life, right now, in ways you cannot imagine. Which to me translated, He is answering your prayers, and I Immediately thought of people I regularly pray for:

  1. The granddaughter starting her college career in a far away city.
  2. The grandson who started a new job.
  3. The daughter with a new class of fourth graders and an active family.
  4. The daughter finishing a chemistry degree while working full-time.
  5. The son-in-law working toward a winning season for his football team.
  6. The son-in-law finishing a difficult job away from his home and family.
  7. The friend fighting cancer.

Throughout the Old Testament, God provided ways for His people to overcome and be victorious, but they had to be bold and courageous in order to claim their blessings. That courage came from knowing the mighty God and obeying His instructions.

Those instructions still apply today, and I hope those I pray for will obey them.

Be careful what you look at, read or listen to. It is easy to let something attractive lure you away from your destiny. It can happen in a heartbeat so be watchful.

Watch and learn from others. The Bible says, “By their fruits you shall know them.” Watch how people act and what outcomes those actions produce. Learn from them.

Anybody striving for the best will run into people who hurt and disappoint them. Learn from the situation, be smart enough to avoid repeating the problem, but most importantly forgive those who harm you. Holding a grudge only takes your joy.

Even when we experience difficulties, God can use them to teach us that He alone is God, and that is a valuable lesson!

Mother wrote in her journal, “Faith is the communication link between heaven and earth. It is on this link of faith that God’s messages of love travel so quickly that even before we ask, He answers.”

Every day is full of important decisions that determine whether or not we achieve all that God has planned for us. When I pray for the people I love, I need to also have faith that God really is working in their lives, right now, in ways they cannot understand.

 

 

 


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Bette Stevens Interviews Mary McLeary About Heart Whispers from the Old Testament

 

Bette Stevens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today I would like to thank Bette Stevens for inviting me to her blog, 4writersandreaders.com

Bette and I have many things in common and after meeting her on Twitter, @BetteAStevens, I knew I had found a kindred spirit.

A retired teacher, Bette lives on a 37 acre farm in Central Maine. She is an award-winning author who also enjoys reading, nature and advocating for children and adult literacy.

Her books include Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too, a children’s activity book. The Amazing Matilda won a Purple Dragonfly Book Award. She has authored articles for various magazines and periodicals along with a YA short story, Pure Trash.

Find out more about Bette on her Amazon Author page http://www.Amazon.com/author/betteastevens, but first join us at Bette’s blog where we discuss Heart Whispers from the Old Testament.

You’ll find us here: on her blog http://4writersandreaders.com/2015/07/30/meet-the-author-mary-mcleary/

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The Book, @Sticky Jesus, and Seven Reminders of Keeping Humility Online

 

One of my summer traditions is to make tomato chow-chow with Stacy (our oldest daughter). Last week we gathered all the ingredients, jars and tops and as the tasty concoction simmered, we visited. That actually is my favorite part.

When there was a lull, one of the grandsons said, “Meme when we come to visit we always talk about your friends, food and flowers.”

My first thought was, “Well current events are depressing,” followed immediately by, “Goodness, I’ve turned into Mama Lilly Bell!”

My grandmother introduced me to all her friends, told me about all her favorite foods and led me around her yard each summer showing off her various plants and flowers. Though bored to tears with the information, I loved my time with her knowing she shared what she loved.

Another thing she shared was Bible stories. Snuggled up next to her, I heard about David and Goliath, Noah’s ark, Peter trying to walk on water and all of Jesus’ miracles. One story was about the Tower of Babel.

From Genesis 11, this story tells of a people who tried building a tower to heaven. God knew their purpose was to glorify themselves instead of glorifying Him so he scattered the people and gave them different languages.

For some reason this story came to mind recently when Facebook blew up over gay marriage and the Confederate flag. There are hundreds of thousands of Facebook users and nearly everyone voiced his/her thoughts. That week I realized the diversity of my friends’ views because my Facebook page “looked like a battle broke out between the Confederates and a Skittles factory”.

Several years ago Mother gifted me her prayer journals. I wanted to share her wisdom so I started blogging. A few months after writing my first blog, I attended a conference in Nashville where I received a very timely book by Toni Birdsong and Tami Heim titled @Sticky Jesus, (how to live out your faith online). In the title, Sticky is a term in advertising for a product that catches on and lingers. As Christians, we want our lives to make Jesus stick and linger.

Though it is sometimes easy to sound prideful when stating an opinion, a belief offered with a humble spirit can draw others to Him. When writing about maintaining online humility the authors offer these reminders:

  1. There’s only one who is truly famous, and His name is Jesus.
  2. Love must define your presence online
  3. Reach out, forgive and be inclusive.
  4. Discern your tone to avoid the pitfall of pride.
  5. Humility is one of the most powerful weapons on earth.
  6. We don’t preach ourselves but Christ.
  7. If we exalt ourselves, we will be humbled eventually.

In her journal Mother wrote, “Proud notions or people will eventually fail because they fail to recognize God as the ultimate power. Focus on the goodness of God.”

Our grandson noticed that I talk with him about what is important to me. I hope that’s also reflected in what I post online.

 


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Product Marketing, Jeff Bullas and Seven Things Not To Do In Retirement

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On the way home from a totally impromptu trip to Whole Foods grocery in Memphis, I accessed my Twitter feed and found an interesting article by Jeff Bullas. He presented ideas on how to get more readers to share your blog.

I’ve been blogging for a while and it’s always good when people share a post. I was interested in the idea that people like to read and share blogs that tell them how to do something. I was feeling healthier from our recent purchases, and other pleasantries of retirement were fresh on my mind so I decided to share some ideas on how to enjoy retirement.

I asked my sweet spouse for some ideas, and his response was less than enthusiastic. “We aren’t really experts. I’d say our retirement is more a work in progress.” And with that he went outside to do battle with the Japanese beetles attacking the Knockout roses.

Unfazed, I jotted down some ideas that turned into seven things not to do when you retire. Read them with the knowledge that, though I am not an expert, I have several years of experience in the area.

  1. Don’t mistake a day full of options for one of idleness. There’s a big difference.

Psalms 118:24 says, “This is the day that the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it, and as my eighty-eight year old Uncle Fred says, “If I’m breathing and able to be upright then it’s a good day.  Focus on the pleasure of sitting by a window during a summer rain, grabbing your Bible and listening for a Word as you drink that second cup of coffee, taking a walk if you’re able, reading a good book, writing down stories you want to share with your grandchildren. Live in the moment and enjoy each day.

2. Don’t bring along debt. Spend your money on doing what pleases you instead.

Romans 13:8 tells us, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love on another, for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” Dave Ramsey, a financial wiz, encourages people to live like no one else today (while you are working) so you can live like no one else tomorrow(when you retire). He also tells people never to take more than a fifteen-year fixed-rate loan and never have a payment over 25 percent of your take-home pay. In other words, be wise with your money so you can better enjoy your life.

3. Don’t reminisce too much. The old days were great – but not magnificent or you would probably still be working.

Isaiah 43:18-19 reminds us not to live in the past. “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” This is now one of my favorite scriptures because it is so full of hope. This time in life is full of new things that the Lord Himself has planned. Wow.

4. Don’t ruminate. Dwelling on and worrying about past mistakes only gives the devil a playground in your mind and insures unhappiness.

Romans 13:12 is a wonderful reminder that we are new creations in Christ. The old things have passed away and new things are here. A certain amount of wisdom comes with age and it is normal to have some regrets, but constantly replaying past mistakes is not healthy. When tempted to participate in the devil’s mind game, read your Bible instead. You will literally be safe under His wing and near His heart.

5. Don’t over obligate your time. You are in charge of your calendar now.

In Psalms 90:12, Moses prayed, “Teach us to number our days, so that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” I want a heart of wisdom not one full of anxiety. For me, anxiety comes from having too much to do. If the calendar is packed it’s my own fault. Using my heart of wisdom helps me know what’s necessary and pleasing to Him. Those activities are scheduled in, but anything else is optional.

6. Don’t think of yourself as unnecessary. You are marginal by choice, but you are not unnecessary.

In Matthew 11: 28-30, Jesus said come to Him if you’re tired and He will give you rest. He said, “My Yoke is easy and my burden is light.” He knows exactly where we are and will nudge us when we’re needed.

7. Don’t worry that you’ve been forgotten. Even if no one is calling in, you can reach out anytime you want to.

Mark Twain quipped, “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” And that idea teams with the Golden Rule in Luke 6:31, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

If you feel lonely, reach out to others. This is a time in life where all you’ve learned in church comes together.

Mother wrote in her journal, “Faith in Jesus means trusting Him to decide what we need and to supply that in His Own way.”

God has been faithful in each stage of my life and retirement is no different. He is doing new things and I’m grateful.

 

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C. S. Lewis, Questions about Christianity, Heart Whispers from the Old Testament

 

As a junior education major, I took a children’s literature course and read C.S Lewis’ classic, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. The author provided a reading experience that took me along with its characters into the magical land of Narnia and introduced me to the magnificent lion, Aslan.

I remember exactly where I was when I realized who Aslan represented, and at that moment I became a lifelong fan of C.S. Lewis, the atheist academic turned Christian.

Recently, Maston (a grandson) visited for a week and one lazy summer morning after chocolate chip pancakes, we looked for a movie to watch and found The Chronicles of Narnia which is based on the book.

We watched the children become entwined in the evil witch’s attempt to rule Narnia and Aslan’s plan that thwarted her. When the climax came Maston said, “I can’t believe he did that.”

I remember I felt the same way when I read the book, and realized Aslan’s actions reflected what we as Christians believe Christ did for us on the cross.

Lewis’ thoughts are often quoted by Christians because he was an unbeliever until late in his life and approaches his faith as one who recalls being strongly opposed to Christians and Christianity.

There have always been people opposed to Christianity. The Bible is full of stories about them and it is easy to read scriptures and think, “Good grief! These folks are a mess!” Yet for every instance of outrageous wickedness, there is someone to whom God speaks.

Last January I intended to read through the Bible. I started in Genesis and never got past the Old Testament. With each chapter God seemed to show me how He was, is and always will be in control no matter who makes the choice to believe or how wicked the rest of the world becomes.

As I read and wrote down scriptures, I added my thoughts along with entries from the prayer journals Mother gave me. The process became a book, Heart Whispers from the Old Testament and it comforted me because I was feeling pretty sad for our modern world.  My time in the Old Testament showed me that we are no better than those guys, but, thankfully, we have a Savior.

A letter to the editor in today’s paper reflected the world’s disbelief and doubt in our faith and cited several stories in the Old Testament which caused the writer confusion and doubt. She is not unique or special in her feelings. She merely stated how she and, (according to research from the Pew Research Center) many others feel about religion.

She is right in saying, “Many others are asking some hard questions about the Christian faith.”

This isn’t new or unique either. Christians are always expected to prove our faith, and that can best be done through our actions as Lewis states so well,

“When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world. The war-time posters told us that Careless Talk costs Lives. It is equally true that Careless Lives cost Talk. Our careless lives set the outer world talking; and we give them grounds for talking in a way that throws doubt on the truth of Christianity itself.”

As Mother writes in her journal, “We must develop skills in right living because our behavior attracts attention to God.”

After years of doubting and ridiculing Christianity, God spoke to C. S. Lewis and his subsequent writings attracted attention to God. That’s just how it works.

 

 


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Two Types of People – Hummers and Horseflies

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A few weeks ago Nash (grandson) and I were on our way to Bible School when we heard what I thought was a giant horsefly caught behind the blinds in the garage window. Since we were in a hurry, I didn’t actually look behind the blinds. I assumed it was a horsefly and hoped it would get what it deserved.

Hours later my assumption about a horsefly was proven wrong when Nash and Don came in with a tiny, lifeless hummingbird retrieved from under the garage window where it lay lifeless.

We headed outside and held the tiny thing up to one of our three feeders. Within seconds of drinking some of the nectar, it was revived and moving about. Something was wrapped around a wing, but when that was removed it flew off to the nearest forsythia bush.

Each May we get six or eight hummers. They are lovely, feisty and seem unafraid of us as we watch their antics around the feeders. When we only had one feeder, we got buzzed for refills when it was empty. One of us headed to the kitchen for the water and sugar mixture. We love these guys!

Horseflies are another story. We loathe them. They show up in hot weather buzzing and stinging any creature they find outside. The females are blood suckers and the males feed on pollen and nectar. They are pesky and unpleasant. We do not look forward to their arrival. Instead we arm ourselves with fly swatters and try to bag as many as possible in a day.

My personal best is fifteen. Thankfully, horseflies don’t stay long. I don’t know why, but they move on after a few days.

In my opinion there are two types of people: hummers and horseflies. The hummers are appealing. They look good, they bring a smile, they dance around, they take care of themselves and only ask for help when they really need something. They are pleasing.

The horseflies come in angry, gruff and intimidating. If you let them stay too long they suck your blood or take your pollen. They never say please or thank you. They get on your nerves, but as unpleasant as horseflies are, they have a purpose, besides being good protein for spiders, they pollinate.

Yes, there is something good which comes from horseflies – flowers.  I did not know this until I did a little research and found out more about them. I still can’t stand them, but I have a tiny bit of appreciation for their existence.

In her journal Mother wrote, “There is something to be learned from everyone – either what to do or what not to do.”

The hummingbird people are a joy to be around and even the horsefly people can have a positive trait. Just be careful when you look. You might get stung.

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Heart Whispers from the Old Testament – My New Writing Project

 

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Everybody needs a hobby and writing is mine. When Mother gifted me her prayer journals the Christmas before she passed away, I realized her wisdom needed to be shared so I started a blog of family faith stories each ending with an entry from Mother’s journals.

I had no confidence in my abilities as a writer and was reluctant to put my name into the blogosphere so I wrote under the name of my imaginary childhood friend, Ann Cocktale.

For two years I blogged every day and eventually the blog posts became my first book, In My Mother’s Words. With the help of my best buddy, Don McLeary and life-long friend, Polly Spencer, we uploaded the book to Kindle. A few months later, In My Mother’s Words became available in paperback, and the lovely Leah Ashby held a book signing at The Potter’s Garden ( I miss her!)

Self-publishing made me an Indy Writer (independent) which meant I could “piddle” around on various internet author pages. It also gave me the opportunity to have a Twitter interview which was not only nerve-wracking but disconcerting as well. The # and @ along with short answers did me in. Before ending the interview and suggesting I stick to Facebook Q &A’s, the interviewer asked if I had other projects in the works.

Before her question, I hadn’t thought about another book, but on the spot I decided I did have a project in mind and replied, “Yes, I’m going to write a devotional book and use more of Mother’s journal entries”

I just finished that devotional book, Heart Whispers from the Old Testament. I intended to write an entry for each day of the year using scriptures through the whole Bible and match each one with an entry from Mother’s journal, but I never got out of the Old Testament.

Like us, those folks were a hot mess. As in our society, God spoke to those who took time to listen. While I read the ancient scriptures, I heard whispers of hope I wanted to share. Heart Whispers from the Old Testament was written with my grandchildren in mind.

Mother wrote in her journal, “Life always has more questions than we have answers, and we must constantly go to His Word for fresh insights in to life’s dilemmas.”

I pray that God’s people will hold to the confidence in Him and go to the Bible for wisdom and fresh insight. He always speaks when we listen.

If you would like a copy of Heart Whispers from the Old Testament, click on the link below.

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B009UX7X12

Thank you and I pray you continue hearing His whispers.

Mary McLeary

 

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