marymcleary

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


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My Faith Family is My Lighthouse in the Fog of Life

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The day was crystal clear until midmorning though we could see fog rolling in from the ocean. By noon it engulfed the beach and invaded the patio of the condo where we enjoyed the beautiful Alabama coastline. Since we didn’t want to miss a daily walk, we headed to the water’s edge despite the limited visibility.

We didn’t realize our mistake until we looked up to get our bearings. There were none. The fog hid the flags on the ground and the blue pelican sign we counted on to lead us to the building we currently called home. We had sense enough to cut our walk short and make our way back before we became totally lost.

The world seems to be currently fogged up in opinions, misinformation, and “fake news”. I need a lighthouse and I find one every Sunday when I worship with other Christ followers. The fellowship, music and truth shared through the scriptures keep me from getting lost.

Our lighthouse of choice Sunday was Romar Beach Baptist Church whose catch phrase is “The Lighthouse on the breach making a stand in the sand”. After meeting folks from Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Alabama and Louisiana, we proceeded to the choir loft to sing old and new songs of praise.

The pastor then preached from Ephesians 10 and this is what I got from his sermon: Being a child of God is who I am and therefore, what I do. I am an heir of God. He chose me (and praise God, my children) I, in turn, received his free gift of grace and mercy. That makes me His self-expression which is a tremendous call.

I need for my eyes of understanding to be open and clear so I can receive the power of the Holy Spirit and victory in Jesus. My call is to be filled with the power of Christ. How? Put off the old and put on the new every day – repent and revive!

The pastor closed with something Mother could have written in her journal, “Oh the best thing in life that I ever did do was to take off the old robe and put on the new.”

Life, like the beach, isn’t foggy every day, but when it is I need a point of reference. I am grateful for faith walkers who gather as The Church and provide that very thing.

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Worship Will Open a Child’s Heart to The Father

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Attending worship service Sunday pointed the New Year in the right direction. The seasoned pastor with fifty plus years at the pulpit and nineteen or so grandkids spoke with authority about blessing future generations through worship.

We watch in amazement as our teenaged grandkids race to adulthood while we mosey toward our Twilight Years. Our parenting now consists of prayers for our daughters and their spouses who are in the thick of parenting in a complicated world.

As I watch them maneuver this slippery slope, I’m filled with gratitude because they do such a good job, but since I am “aged up” I know that sometimes well-raised kids from faith filled families still wind up like the prodigal in the Bible. They are deceived and become dissatisfied with what they have. This starts their journey towards the pig sty.

Praise the Lord, many quickly realize their folly and run back home where they are received by thankful families, but others spend a life time wallowing in slop. What about them and what about their parents who prayed over them, showed these guys the love of the Jesus and watched sons and daughters baptized as children only to walk away.

Sunday, while listening to the first sermon of the New Year I received a “heart whisper”. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Bring up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

In John 10:29 Jesus tells us, “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”

What my heart heard was, “When parents show their children My love through worship the hearts of those children are opened to Me. I dwell in them and they receive the promise of eternal life. They may be deceived for a life time, but they will come Home to Me for eternity.”

Mother wrote in her journal, “The pressure of everyday life may persuade us to focus on the here and now and forget God. That is why worship is so important. It takes our eyes off our current worries, gives us a glimpse of God’s holiness and allows us to look toward His future kingdom.”

If you are parents of young children, take and keep your children not just in church, but in WORSHIP so their hearts will be opened to the Savior and their eternity will be secured. The world will try to deceive them and sadly it may succeed, but they will eventually run home to the Father.

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Gifts of the Spirit

 

 

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Christmas plans changed for our family this year. We are a flexible lot and everyone was willing to monitor and adjust to gather a week early. It was no problem for me to have the house decorated since I started as soon as the Thanksgiving dishes were put away, and I ordered gifts online and wrapped them as soon as they were delivered.

Last Sunday everybody enjoyed the meal and the company while periodically stealing glances at those gifts that lay nestled underneath the tree. The most beautiful tree in the world would not be complete without the gifts.

When I was eight or nine years old, I asked Jesus into my heart, and since then His Holy Spirit lives there. Christians, like presents, hold something special inside. We call them the Gifts of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Though we may decorate at a certain time of year we can give and receive these gifts anytime.

Several Sundays ago my small group leader reinforced this when she said, “We take Him wherever we go”, and I remembered an incident a few weeks earlier.

Our favorite football team had a playoff game in a nearby city. As we entered the stadium, members of the ROTC Color Guard walked in behind us and for a little while I stood next to one of the guys. Standing straight as an arrow, it was apparent he took his appearance and his duty seriously. In fact, he looked a little intimidating, but before I thought about it I leaned over to him and said, “I have to tell you. You look very handsome.”

His brown eyes stared at me suspiciously for a moment before turning his head slightly and smiling the most glorious smile I believe I’ve ever seen. It was an “Aw shucks!” moment as he thanked me and turned to go carry our flag.

It isn’t my habit to tell young men I don’t know they look handsome. I think the Holy Spirit prompted me to acknowledge his effort. His reaction was priceless and I was thankful to witness it.

Mother wrote in her journal, “The order of the Divine mind is beautiful. What should we do but try to produce it in our daily lives.”

The colors, the lights, the music and the gifts all make Christmas wonderful, but it’s The Baby that makes it a wonder, and if you’re sad this season because of loss of health, wealth or loved ones I pray you’ll receive kindness, gentleness, love and patience until you feel like sharing again. It can be anytime of the year.

 

 

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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.