marymcleary

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


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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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Heart Whispers from the Old Testament – The Lord Your God is With You

 

 

We gathered around the dining table on Mother’s Day and I felt so grateful. Each person seated at the table puts on the whole armor of Christ each day. They face their struggles with a boldness that comes from knowing He has their backs.

The world is a tricky place and unless you have a holy boldness you’ll be paralyzed with fear and uncertainty.

With that in mind, I wrote a little devotional book with my grandkids in mind. My blog post today is from that book.

 

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you, “Be of good courage; do not be afraid nor be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go?”

As a child I memorized this scripture, but the verse took on a special meaning for me when our son was born with severe multiple handicaps. I have claimed this promise on many occasions since that diagnosis over forty years ago.

Our church recently finished a series of messages on Grace and the congregation watched videos of members sharing their grace experiences during difficult times. Their stories reflected the hope found because of the grace of God.

In her journal Mother wrote, “Even in our sorrow and calamity, God can bring great blessings.  Trust God.  He will be with you in the hard times.”

Dear Lord, Thank you for grace that gives us strength to endure.  Please be with those who are today wondering if they can make it.  Help them be of good courage, and know You are always with them. Amen

 


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Birthdays, Karma and Grace

gift wrapped : Gift box with pink ribbon and box from flowers

“Well, I got a great lesson in Karma the other day,” my friend, Ann, began.

When Ann calls I mostly listen and today’s conversation was no different.

“Sue Ellen stopped by with my birthday gift. It was in a pink bag and stuffed with about fifteen pieces of rose-colored tissue paper. She’s so sweet. Well we talked awhile and then she told me to open her present.

I pulled out the paper and inside was a decorative box and inside the box was a lovely silk scarf.”

“Aw, that was nice.” I injected.

“Yes, it was. Actually I was speechless. That scarf had all my favorite colors in it and would look great with many of my outfits.”

Ann paused, but before I could add anything she continued.

“In fact those were the thoughts I had when I saw it in the mall and bought it for Sue Ellen a couple of years ago on her birthday.”

“Are you kidding?”

“Nope, she couldn’t have given me anything I liked more. Thus the lesson about Karma: What you give out does come back to you.”

“Did you remind her?”

“No, she would be mortified and besides I wanted that scarf.”

After we finished our conversation I googled “Karma” and found the word has its origin in Hinduism and Buddhism referring to action seen as bringing  inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or the next. Actually, being rewarded or punished according to ones deeds.

The concept is similar to “Do unto others as you want them to do unto you,” or “As you sow so you reap”.

The moral of Aesop’s fable, The Ant and the Dove, is a good example of Karma in action.

A tiny ant wants a drink of water so she leans over a rushing stream, loses her balance and falls in. The current carries the little insect downstream to where a dove sits on a tree branch.

Seeing the ant’s peril, the dove nips a leaf with its beak and tosses it to the ant who latches on to the leaf and is saved. She sails to safety.

Later, a hunter sees the kind, fat dove and desires to kill it for dinner. Placing an arrow in his bow, the hunter takes aim, but the tiny ant happens to be nearby and attacks his ankle. The bites distract the hunter and the dove is saved by the actions of the tiny creature.

Obviously, if the dove had not saved the ant the ant could not have later saved the dove.

What goes around comes around.

My faith teaches that we are saved by grace not Karma. God’s grace through Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross ensures my next life.

Mother wrote in her journal, “Obedience to our inner conscience brings the power of God into our lives.”

It never hurts to send out the good.

 

 

 

 

 


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A Spring Break Visit: Captain America, Discovery Park and a Treasure Hunt

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Two weeks ago one of our grandsons came for Spring break. The school district ran ahead of the calendar so the weather required us to spend Monday and Tuesday inside playing Monopoly and watching movies. One was the action packed Captain America.

This WW I hero has an experience that enhances his abilities and extends his life to the present time. He possesses a special shield that rests in a holster on his back at the ready should he need protection from an enemy assault.

Wednesday, the weather was perfect for a trip to Union City and a visit to Discovery Park of America.  It is aptly named. We made a multitude of discoveries about outer space, the sinking of the Titanic, the military, vintage automobiles, geology and ecology. We only had a day so we will make more discoveries another time.

Thursday was rainy, and we decided to spend it inside Butler’s Antique store. Fearing that might sound awful to a ten-year old, I described our outing as a Treasure Hunt.

Before picking up my friend who joined us, I told Maston (the grandson) that I felt comfortable letting him roam freely in the antique store and challenged him to search high and low until he found something special for the money he had in his pocket.

Taking my advice, he burst through the front door like Indiana Jones looking for the lost tomb. When he resurfaced twenty minutes later, he was the proud owner of some impressive loot and money to spare. Apparently he’d done a little haggling with the proprietor.

Tired and hungry after our adventure, we took a lunch break and Googled his find. It was selling on Ebay for twice what he paid.

After lunch we had time and money for another stop, and that’s where he unearthed the Captain America shield. Our outing was a success and we headed home.

The rest of the break sped by.  I sat down for my quiet time the following Monday and read Psalms 91:4,

“His truth shall be your shield”.

Images of Captain America flashed through my mind. Raising his magnificent shield, he warded off any attack: throwing it, he knocked out foes; resting in the holster, it protected his back; just knowing he possessed such a weapon gave him confidence.

God, in His infinite wisdom, provides a shield of protection for is children. With it, we can withstand any attack the enemy launches against us.

In her journal Mother wrote, “Doing the impossible is everyday business with God.”

 


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A Long Winter, A New Book, A Beautiful Snowfall and (Hopefully) Winter’s Last Hurrah

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I hope some of you noticed I that I haven’t posted for a while. That’s because I finished writing my second book and was editing and rewriting. This new effort is a book for my grandchildren. There are scriptures, short life lessons, entries from Mother’s prayer journals and prayer prompts. It should be available before summer. I’ll tell you more about that later.

Here’s today’s post.

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Living in the south means a good snowfall always gets our attention. Schools are let out so buses full of wiggling children don’t accidently slide off a rural road and into a ditch. The local news channels broadcast hours of redundant footage and remind their viewers to stay home if they can.

Grocery stores love snow because people rush to the bread and milk aisles grabbing sustenance for the duration of the storm. I also grab whatever chocolate is within reach before rushing home to fill the tub with water in case the ice (that usually paves the way for the actual snow fall) breaks power lines and causes the electricity to go off. Then we “hunker down” for few days until the stuff melts.

This year February hosted two significant snow events, and I’m thinking surely this week’s snowfall is winter’s grand finale.

Nature out did herself Wednesday night with rain, sleet and finally the pristine layer of white icing so deep it covered even the stalks in last summers cornfields.

Thursday’s deepfreeze was capped off by a spectacular sunset seen from the back windows and an orange-sherbet full moon rising over the black silhouettes of oak trees in the front. The result was spectacular and caused a flurry of pictures on Facebook.

Friday morning’s sun directed its rays with the precision of Stephen Spielberg and perfectly lit each snow-covered tree so the branches sparkled like the arms of stars on Oscar night.

With a cup of coffee in hand, I roamed from room to room and as (Mama Lilly Bell would say) “mirated” over each vista.  Don was doing the same thing and from the window by his desk he called for me to come and look.

The wispy elm and birch trees between our house and our neighbors’ were liberally sprinkling glitter from lower branches to the blanket of white below. A bird lit on a nearby forsythia bush causing a bucketful of glitter to cascade from the branches.

It reminded me of the dozens of bottles of man-made glitter my students sprinkled on hundreds of snowflakes cut from folded paper and then stapled to bulletin boards every January.

But the art activity outside the window came straight from the Master Creator of the universe and the effect was stunning!

The winter scenario made me realize that any little flake can sparkle if the sun (Son) shines on it. The Son’s light is surely my only hope.

This morning we woke to an azure sky and  dozens of noisy robins devouring berries on the tree by the front porch.

I don’t know where they’ve been, but either Hitchcock is doing a remake of his spooky movie The Birds or they know winter has had her last hurrah.

I’m hoping it’s the latter.

In her journal Mother wrote, “It is enough for me to know that my name is written on the palm of the Creator of the world.”

Me too.

 

 

 

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