marymcleary

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


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Don’t give Trump so much credit, America

This says what I believe so I’m passing it along. A better tomorrow starts in our own homes.

Purpose on the Prairie

In less than 24 hours since Donald Trump has been named the President-elect of the greatest nation on this earth, it’s become apparent he’s being given far more credit than he’s due.  There’s anguished cries of, ‘How will my children grow up knowing not to discriminate?’ or, ‘How can I look my daughter in the eye and tell her she has purpose?’  Really?  Really, America?  You have given Donald Trump, a mere mortal man, far more credit than he deserves, especially considering the man hasn’t even taken office yet.  Trump does not have the power to mold our families, that is our flat-out our responsibility.

Your children will learn to love or hate, be respectful or disrespectful, wise or foolish, not by the character of the family in the White House, but by the family in their house.  May I submit to you that your sons and daughters will be…

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Doobie Brothers and a Birthday Thought

Recently one of our grandsons bemoaned what, in his opinion, were the unreasonably high standards his parents held for him. Because his parents are wise, they realize how small the window of opportunity is for raising a good man and are diligent in guiding him to achieve all of which he is capable, and they know even when parents have done everything right, they can lose their good kids to bad situations.

There are parents today praying for their prodigal son or daughter and claiming Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he/she should go and when he/she is old he/she will not depart from it.”

My brother was one of those kids who was raised right yet lived with lots of regrets. His birthday was last week so I had him on my mind. It wasn’t in a melancholy way; he was ready to go. His last few years were spent in a nursing home because of his severe medical needs.

It was a little before noon that day when I went to Lowes to grab floor polish and Windex. I was the only one on the cleaning aisle and all was quiet when over the sound system came a song from the 1970s by The Dooby Brothers, Old Black Water.

The lyrics along with some killer guitar stopped me in my tracks. Before a stroke left his hand too weak to cord, Mike loved to play and sing this song. I instantly thought of the time he tried teaching me the last part to sing with him. He played and sang perfectly, but I never got it.

After the piece played all the way through, the sound system shut off and it was totally quiet again. It could be coincidence, but I think coincidence is a messenger sent by Truth. My heavenly Father loves me so much He gave His only son, Jesus, to save me. If He would do that He would also send a coincidence. The message I received with it was, “Your brother is doing just fine!”

 Mother wrote in her journal, “As one’s eyes are more and more opened, one sees more in them and it excites wonder.”

Our children fill us with perplexity and angst, but they can also excite us with wonder. Pray for them 24/7. The world needs the people you’re preparing and God is always doing new things even in the lives of prodigals.


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It’s Great to be A Tennessee Vol!

035I Said It’s Great

To Be

A Tennessee

VOL!!

Cheering for the Tennessee Vols is one of my favorite pass times. My favorite Vol wore #36 as a member of several championship teams from 1966-1970. Because he coached for over twenty-five years, he attended his first game as a spectator when he was in his fifties. He had no clue it was a social event and worried that the fans were not as focused on the game as he was.

My thought was, “Thank goodness!”

I was accustomed to watching his games with other coaches’ wives. Watching with my coach was, well, a whole new ballgame. We made the necessary adjustments, and have for many years enjoyed home games in Neyland Stadium.

Saturday we both attended the UT/Florida game but he attended with his three brothers while I got to go with my daughter.

By now everyone knows Josh Dobbs completed five second-half passes for touchdowns. It was Tennessee’s first victory against the Gators since 2004. The atmosphere was electric the second half, but the first half resembled a disaster movie and I’m not just talking about the game.

As we wound higher up the ramps to our seats, the walkways resembled scenes from a disaster movie. Many early bird fans overheated and sat or lay along the way. At least four times we plastered ourselves against the walls of the narrow passages so emergency vehicles could get through.

The anticipation of a girl’s football weekend totally eclipsed any recollection of the usually sweltering atmosphere of Neyland every time Tennessee plays host to Florida.  I also forgot I was three years older than the last time I was required to access seats in a section nearest heaven, but anytime I get to gallivant with a daughter, I’m in.

With enthusiastic Florida fans to the left of us and rowdy Rocky Toppers on the right, we watched as the Tennessee Volunteers gained momentum for a win that took them one step closer to the predicted SEC playoff game in December. Though it is a long season with worthy opponents ahead, Saturday the Vols looked like Champions in that checkered arena.

Football requires commitment from the fans as well as the players and winning is how we are all rewarded. As a teacher, I can’t resist a teaching moment. Lessons do abound in losses, but I prefer to teach from a win so FYI:

 

  1. There is no reason to pass out or freeze to death at a game so Google the temps. Assuming you’ll be fine might eventually put a burden on your companions. Take precautions. You many look cute in those jeans and cowboy boots, but you’ll look sad passed out from heat.
  2. Arrive at the game sober and stay that way. If you’re drunk you will be a pain in the rear for someone who may embarrass you or themselves. Everybody around you paid good money for their seats. A drunk does nothing to enhance the experience.
  3. Have faith. Josh Dobbs didn’t give up on his receivers. He came out the second half and threw to guys who couldn’t catch cold the first half. Some fans lost faith after Florida’s two TDs in the first quarter and went home. Look what they missed. Those who stayed till the end shared an amazing experience.
  4. Appreciate the power of redemption. At halftime the receivers asked Coach Jones for another chance. “Coach, throw to me.”
  5. A wise coach forgives past mistakes and allows for redemption.
  6. Step up and refuse to be beaten. The entire team responded to the coach’s challenge at halftime.
  7. Take on responsibility not excuses. Juan Jennings was one of the receivers asking for another chance. Josh sent that chance his way. Juan later said, “When I saw the ball coming I knew it was all on me.” A life lesson would be, “You may have dropped the ball many times, but you can still be spectacular.”

Mother wrote in her journal, “A reminder: Keep dreaming and believing and expect impossible things to happen In your life because sometimes the unlikeliest thing can come true in the twinkling of an eye.”

 

 

 

 

 


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Benefits of Gratitude are Scientifically Proven – Increase Your Doseage

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An article in Psychology Today listed seven scientifically proven benefits of gratitude:

  1. It opens the door to more relationships.
  2. It improves physical health,
  3. Gratitude Improves psychological health.
  4. It enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
  5. Grateful people sleep better.
  6. Gratitude improves self-esteem.
  7. It increases mental strength.

I know all the above, yet I often pass up opportunities to practice appreciation and have had the same feeling one of our grandsons shared after opening Christmas presents several years ago.

He sat amid the shreds of red and green wrapping paper looking forlornly at a pile of age appropriate and unnecessary gifts. Feeling concerned I asked, “Didn’t you like the things you got?”

He replied, “Yes, but I was hoping for more.”

It was an honest answer and I understood because the Christmas of my fourteenth year left me with the same adolescent disappointment. There were so many things I wanted and so few gifts at hand. My ingratitude reflected my immaturity.

I’m not sure when I began seeing the glass half full rather than half empty, but I know Mother was an agent for that change. She recognized a blessing and was quick to point it out. Our trips back and forth from my grandmother’s house were full of oohs and aahs over every pastoral scene down HWY 45 South even though we’d made that trip hundreds of times. As a child of the Depression, she could have easily become bitter and negative, but she intentionally chose gratitude.

When our beautiful baby boy arrived with severe mental and physical challenges, he became my gratitude guide. Though I was a reluctant participant at first, his gleeful shrieks and unfailing persistence made me realize how much most of us take for granted. We were grateful for any hard won achievement no matter how small or how long it took to accomplish.

When he was three he woke us in the night humming Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. No words, just a perfect melody. The next Christmas Mother gave him his first of many radios that became his lifeline.

He has quite a repertoire. He will hum a few bars of one of his favorite songs then stop and wait for someone to finish the tune. It’s our version of Name That Tune most often played when we’re traveling. Recently his first request was Jingle Bells. My Bass Singer and I immediately identified that tune and commenced a hearty rendition.  It pleased Matt and when we finished he followed with Jesus Loves Me.

As we responded to that lovely song, a little blessing was revealed in the form of a sweet spirit of gratitude, laughter and joy. I didn’t “hope for more’.  This was more than I deserved.

In her journal Mother wrote, ”The only genuine source of happiness is God, and we receive lasting joy only through expressing gratitude to Him. Seek God and live as he directs you and true joy will soon follow.”

Making gratitude a daily practice confers a whole host of health benefits from improved immune systems, to feelings of connectedness.  I just have to take regular doses.

 

 

 

 

 


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Take Care of Thanks – A Grandson’s Lesson

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While looking through some of my appointment books from past years, I came across the following entry written in March of 2007:

I am worn out! My first graders are falling apart and there are a thousand teaching duties each day.  I want to do them well, but they must be done while I give “differentiated” instruction to all eighteen of my six year olds.

 It’s too much, and every time I open my mouth I’m griping.  When I don’t open my mouth I’m thinking awful things that make me worry about my spirituality and my sanity.

As I read Matthew 23:26 pondered how to clean my heart and mind one of our four year old grandsons,  approached carrying his sister’s cast off baby doll.

Holding it out to me he said, “He wants you to keep him.”

“What’s his name?” I asked.

“His name is Thanks. Take care of him.”

Well, as they say, from the mouths of babes. This precious little boy had brought an epiphany.  I’m supposed to keep Thanks.

Just as I would care for a child, keep him in sight at all times, feed, love and nurture him, I must tend to Thanks so that he will grow and be strong.

Well I am just as busy as ever, but since I took on the care of Thanks he has helped me to think on the good things so I gripe less about my duties which, as it turns out, are actually mostly blessings.

Mother wrote in her journal, “God gives in abundance. He takes whatever we can offer Him in time, ability and resources and multiplies its effectiveness beyond our wildest expectations.”

Caring for Thanks has helped me see that though I have many tasks to do, He has given me the resources to do them and I am blessed.

 


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Starting Today With Mustard Seed Size Faith

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Not long ago I found a tiny mustard see encased in a plastic charm. This was a gift from a friend when I was in seventh grade, for some reason Mother kept it in her jewelry box which I now have.

It’s funny how a familiar scripture can suddenly take on new meaning, and as I looked at my reclaimed gift, I marveled at Jesus’ wisdom when He said faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain. I start many of my days with mustard seed faith. Today was a mustard seed day.

Along with a cup of coffee, I brought a tiny faith to Mark’s gospel where I read about the rich young ruler. Mark 10:17 is where I planted my seed and there it grew.

The young man in this passage is always referred to as the rich young man, but this morning I realized he was a seeker whom Jesus looked at and loved. Jesus knew his heart and his circumstances. Jesus was not surprised at the young man’s desire to follow Him and enter the kingdom.

After a short conversation, Jesus gave this seeker explicit advice, “Go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Verse 22 says that the guy went away sad because he had great wealth. This is where my mustard seed started to grow. I watered it with a few sips of coffee and reread Mark 10: 21, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”

Our Master knows the value of every creature and He knew the material worth of this man and his worth to the kingdom. The young man had a choice, this morning the Holy Spirit took my tiny faith and revealed enormous possibilities.

What if, like the widow with her jars and oil in 2 Kings 4, the rich young man determined to give until all he had was gone, and what if each time he thought his wealth was depleted he received even more to share. What if he gave to the poor again and again yet he received more and touched hundreds, maybe thousands of lives.

This morning instead of reading about a selfish man of wealth, I saw possibilities. That is what Jesus saw and, “He looked at him and loved him.”

That verse touched my heart and I substituted “him” for my name. “He looked at Mary and loved her.” Then I went through my whole family name by name . . “and He looked at ______ and loved (him/her)”.

The gift of faith reflects God’s omnipotent power. Every word Jesus speaks forms thoughts that are higher than I can imagine. The Mustard plant grows to a remarkable size in comparison to its seed, and this morning I planted my little seed in scripture and it grew til my heart was overflowing with gratitude at life’s possibilities.

Mother wrote in her journal, “God can do the miraculous. Trust Him to provide the resources. He can take what little we have and turn it into something great.”


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Restored – Furniture, People and St. Peter

buffet

RESTORATION: TO BE RESTORED. THE ACT OR PROCESS OF RETURNING SOMETHING TO ITS ORIGINAL CONDITION BY REPAIRING IT, CLEANING IT OR PAINTING IT. AN IMPROVED STATE.

One of my favorite words is restoration. I love old stuff and when I scan my house I see many old pieces of restored furniture.

The steamer trunk my Aunt Gina retrieved, repainted and gave to me is a treasure. My grandmother’s buffet from the 1940’s was once painted an off- white then years later touched up to stand proudly on a kitchen wall.

While having lunch with friends I was reminded that detours can be restored to direct destinations. A boy on crutches took a fall in the middle of the restaurant. He looked embarrassed, but unhurt. Before anyone moved to help, two strong hands reached down and lifted the child to his feet and in a second handed him back his crutches.

“You okay?” his dad asked.

Looking restored the boy said, “Okay!” and followed his father to their original destination.

St. Peter speaks of restoration in 1Peter 10:11, “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Simon Peter, the big, strong fisherman, decided to accept Jesus’ invitation to, “Follow me”.  Peter witnessed the life of the Savior first hand. He heard Him teach, pray and saw the miracles performed. Peter laughed with Jesus, ate with Him and helped Him feed a multitude.

Peter, a respected man of character with strong ties to his community, became a follower and a student of Christ. As Peter learned his role in the kingdom, he also came to know his Master. But Jesus, being God, knew not only who Peter was but who he would become. Jesus knew too that Peter would break and need restoring.

When Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus wasn’t surprised, but Peter was devastated! Our messes devastate us – not Jesus. Though our failures may set us back, they don’t disqualify us from a relationship with Him.

If Jesus is our Savior, restoration is always possible and often necessary. It usually takes place after a hard lesson and before a shinning moment.

Mother wrote in her journal, “When truly wise people turn to Jesus they can depend on Him for guidance.”

We can always be restored and not just back to the original but to something even better than before. God has something special when we’re ready.