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

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A Trip to Destin and My Friend’s Intentional Obedience


It is exciting to receive God’s blessings as a result of another’s obedience, and that happened on a beach trip to Destin with friends last summer. We were an hour from home when we stopped for breakfast and one of the women said, “Wait a minute, I want to tell you something the Lord laid on my heart. I’ve prayed about this trip and I want to pay for all the gas, meals and extras.”

Immediately there were shouts of, “Oh no you won’t!” from three of our group while I raised my hands and said, “Thank you, Jesus.”

Our benefactor smiled, “Thanks, Mary. I knew I could count on you.”

I was all about a blessing and was ready to receive what the Lord laid on her heart to give. I had no clue how humbling that would be.

That week, the friend practicing intentional obedience was joyful in her largess. Those who initially resisted became grateful and the one (me) who was so willing to receive became acutely aware of how undeserving she was.

Every acquisition during the week required me to adjust my thinking. I became acutely aware of every purchase, but not in an uncomfortably way. Her thoughtfulness made me careful, and by the end of the week I was just as eager to become the giver as I was to receive.

As always, Jesus’ words proved true, it is more blessed to give than to receive. In a world with so many needs, it is easy to become cynical about giving. I’ve heard, “I can’t give enough to do any good.” Or “If I give to this organization, I’ll get a mailbox full of requests for more.”

Our week at the beach instilled a renewed desire in me to give, and the opportunities abound:

A time of respite to a caregiver

Some money to someone in need

A card or call of encouragement

A kind word to someone who usually gets on your last nerve

Comfort for someone who is hurting.

Recently I notice a quote that read, “There are two kinds of people: the givers and the takers.” That may be true but I want to swing to and fro between categories. I want to get every blessing He has for me from whomever He chooses to deliver it, but I also want give.

Mother wrote in her journal, “From the time of Abraham, people learned that when they obey God’s voice and surrender to Him whatever they hold most precious, He multiplies it thousands of times.”

My friend’s example of intentional obedience reminded me that keeping a faithful relationship with Him will open my heart to His specific tasks and He will equip me to perform those tasks. I can choose to be obedient.

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Against the Odds


Joshua 23:10

One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, as He has promised you.

When an underdog in a sporting event fights hard and gives his/her opponent a scare, it is called a moral victory. He/she fought the good fight and came out a winner of sorts.

If a person takes an unpopular stand against overwhelming odds and doesn’t get demolished in the process, that is also a moral victory.

A teenager who lives her faith may lose popularity, but her witness through the years could impact thousands.

In her journal Mother wrote, “Victory depends not on strength or numbers but on obedience and commitment to Him.”

Heavenly Father, I thank you for strength when the odds are against us. Help us to have the courage to do whatever You ask us to do. Amen


God Is Answering Your Prayers


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.





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,

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, 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


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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.



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


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.






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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