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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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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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.

 


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Life, The Journey to Our Promised Land

Deuteronomy 4:14

And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments that you might observe them in the land you cross over to possess (The Promised Land).

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Each of us has a journey to The Promised Land. It’s called Life and God intends for us to boldly claim our futures. He gives us judgments and statutes (rules and regulations) that prepare us for success, but without Him we won’t attain the lives He planned.

A comment from a friend has been running around in my head for a month. In essence she said, “You cannot do everything it says in the Bible to do.”

We were with a group who loves a lively discussion on politics and religion. We are diverse in our thoughts and opinions, but we agree to disagree and still love each other. So when my friend made this comment, I considered her point of view.

She’s right. The Bible doesn’t provide my daily itinerary, but as I read it each morning, I see it as a map (or GPS) guiding me to my Promised Land. I need it because I can easily lose my way.

Yesterday I shared an article on a timely topic which drew a reply from a Face Book friend whose ideas I respect. He disagreed with the author of the article and very kindly questioned its wisdom. I pondered his point of view.

Because I believe God puts people and situations in my life for a reason, I embrace these folks, along with many, many others as vessels He uses to broaden my horizons and check me now and again.

Having traveled this far on my journey, I want to make the trip easier for my kids and grandkids. I don’t have the luxury of assuming the next generation will automatically follow my faith path.

Mother wrote in her journal, “When you leave God out of your life, you may be shocked at what you are capable of doing. We will lose the battle if we gather the spoils of earthly treasure rather than seeking the treasure of heaven.”

This shrunken world has brought a multitude of options and opinions that bombard and perplex. All I can do is offer my map, the Bible and my Guide, Jesus.

Dear Lord, Help us effectively apply your map to our lives  so we reach the Promised Land you have planned for us. Be our Guide. Amen

 

 


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Ask For a Word Not a Sign

 

 

066Last month we opted out of winter in Tennessee and headed for the Gulf Coast where we visited with friends, walked the beach and read several good books.

Morning meditations were accompanied by coastal colors and sounds that added awesome reminders of the Creator.

We attended a nearby church where there were no visitors, just “friends we haven’t met yet.” The choir loft filled up with snowbirds who offered surprisingly good (unrehearsed) special music each Sunday. To paraphrase the Psalmist, “Where ever we go, there He is.”

My journal is full of heart whispers and reminders of His presence. One of those reminders came in a text from a friend who had an exciting opportunity and she wanted prayer.

I’m just going to list the events as they happened. They aren’t earth shattering, but they are reaffirming so I want to share.

I asked the Lord for a scripture to pray over this situation before “randomly” opening my Bible.

The scripture was Psalms 22 which is basically asking God for protection from all the enemies of the Psalmist. It was not what I thought we needed, but then I remembered that when this particular friend had righted a serious wrong, she made several people angry. Those people might be in a position to undermine her efforts in this situation.

I kept reading on into Psalms 23 until I came to this verse, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presences of my enemies.”

So, I thought, even though we might be surrounded on all sides by enemies, our God will still prepare a feast for us right in the middle of them!

I claimed that scripture and prayed it until I felt a peace about the situation.

Later in the morning I looked on Facebook where my cousin in Chattanooga posted a picture of a beautifully set table ready for a banquet, and under the picture was the scripture I claimed, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

After FB, I checked my emails. Another friend sent a devotional entitled Why Keep Praying? The writer notes that though God’s character is perfect and unchanging, He listens to our prayers and, as with Moses and Jonah, He hears and will heed our pleas for others.

I felt encouraged to keep praying.

Back at our home church last Sunday, the lesson was on signs and the bottom line was, “Ask for a word from God, not a sign. Asking for a sign shows lack of faith.”

Mother wrote in her journal, “Putting out the fleece is a poor decision-making method. Those who do this put limitations on God. Don’t let a “fleece” become a substitute for God’s wisdom that comes through Bible study and prayer.”

When I asked for a word, God gave it. Now I’d like to say the prayer was answered, but we won’t know for a few more weeks what the answer is. My point is, ask for a word and He’ll give it.

 

 

 

 


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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.