Monday, September 24, 2018

And He Made the Stars Also

"Stars: blessed candles of the night."
William Shakespeare, 1564-1616 

It sounds like an unimportant addition. God made the sun and the moon, and, oh, He made the stars also. Genesis 1:16.

We're studying the first chapters of Genesis in Sunday School. When I first looked through the study book and saw it was on Genesis 1 I thought, "this is going to be boring." Thankfully, there were smarter people than me writing the lessons.

When we got to the creation of the "greater light and lesser light" our teacher made a point of saying, "Oh yeah, he made some stars also," like it was an unimportant statement. And then he recommended a DVD called: The Star of Bethlehem, and encouraged us to watch it. And I'm so glad we did!


Way beyond my human mind, it is an amazing documentary involving the constellations and God's Word and how they line up.

A lawyer and Christian, Rick Larson, was stirred to study the stars when his daughter wanted to put the three wise men in their front yard for a Christmas display. "What about the bright star they followed?" he asked himself. So he began an extensive study of astronomy based on references to stars in God's Word, using "Johannes Kepler's discovery of how the solar system works, improvements in our knowledge of first century history and the spread of computers."

"With software which incorporates Kepler's equations, we can create a computer model of the universe. We can animate the universe in real time at any speed we choose, make months pass in moments or wind back the clock. We can view the sky as it moved over Jerusalem 2000 years ago." Website: bethlehemstar.com

He quoted a number of times from God's Word, and the words matched the sky in the constellations God created. We've watched it twice and will probably watch it a few more times. Another view of the amazing and awesomeness of our creator God.

I'm not even going to try and go into what is explained on this DVD. It is far above my understanding and knowledge. But I was able to understand enough of it to realize the awesomeness of our God and His perfect creation.

If you'd like to see and hear a little more about the stars God made I recommend this DVD: The Star of Bethlehem. 

The first year of our marriage Jerry had a star named after me in honor of Valentine's Day, 1986. I still have the certificate, below, with my name and the location of my star.



And He made the stars also. Just a little thing from the hands of my big God.

"Everywhere I find the signature, the autograph of God."
Joseph Parker, 1830-1902

Monday, September 10, 2018

A Banner Season


This has been a banner season like no other! I'm talking about fawn. Fawn in my backyard. Fawn to photograph and enjoy. Yes, this post is pictures of my fawn!

For the past 8 weeks I've been snapping pictures of the fawn that visit our backyard. Each evening I would sit in our dining room for an hour or two waiting for the fawn to arrive. I'll also see them at different times during the day.

I wasn't getting many snaps driving around early in the morning early July, so when I spotted the fawn at home I devoted my time to watching for them to come. You must indulge me once more as I post some of my favorite snaps from this banner season of fawn watching!





























And this last one is one of the only ones I got out driving around early July.It's been a "fawn"tastic season!



Monday, August 27, 2018

A Special Tribute

I've had this on my mind for awhile now and just have to put it down. It's only been a few weeks since I wrote about "My Kind of Champion." We all have heroes. But this one person is the one who started it all for me, and I want you to know him. So indulge me as I remember a very special person during a very special time in my life.

I was saved at the age of 28 in a revival service at a church close to my home. Earlier I had told God I was sick of life and sick of being heartbroken. If there wasn't anything good about life then I didn't care to live.

An older friend at work told me "You might find what you're looking for at church." So one Sunday morning I walked into Montrose Baptist Church, in Rockville, MD, holding the hand of my daughter. My life would never be the same.

Robert Crowley, pastor of Montrose, was the preacher for the revival that began just a few weeks after I started attending. I gave my heart to Jesus November 14, 1978, on a Tuesday evening. That date is very special to me. This November 14th will be 40 years since I found salvation.


I didn't have a good father figure during my growing up years, and Pastor Crowley became one for me. December of that year the church started a Single's Ministry, and I attended. That first year Pastor Crowley was the teacher.

We were privileged to learn under his care, many of us broken. I was surrounded with individuals just like me, trying to live in a world that had beaten them down. I was asked to write his name in the Bible we gave him after that first year, and he always remembered that. Such a little thing, but big in my eyes.
 My writing started at Montrose with "The Single Experience." That's me, with my dear friend, Clara, who I lost this year.

The Single's ministry was where I met Jerry. As we tell it, we met in an alley, a bowling alley that is.

Every year Pastor Crowley taught a class on Wednesday evenings for new Christians. It was a nine month class on the "Sermon on the Mount." Every Wednesday evening I was taught verse by verse how to live a life that is dedicated to and pleasing to God, free from hypocrisy, full of love and grace, full of wisdom and discernment.

The ground rules were laid out before me of the life of a Christian. I had solid ground in which to grow as a new Christian.

For two years on Wednesday evenings the church fellowship studied the book of Romans verse by verse. It took over two years. The book is an inspirational masterpiece written by the Apostle Paul, explaining God's plan of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It is often considered his most important theological legacy.

My training under Pastor Crowley gave me the knowledge and inspiration I needed to continue living this life. I am blessed to have received great knowledge under his care, of the Bible and how to live a rewarding life with Jesus. I don't say that with pride. I'm humbled to know God provided the opportunity to learn under a great man, and that I was smart enough to listen.

I also worked on The Messenger, a monthly newsletter. I wrote many articles as I learned under other writers at the church. I was never criticized when I'd make silly errors such as writing "apond" for "upon." I was nurtured, and confidence grew so that one day I would become a published writer in a number of magazines.


 Montrose is where I received my first note of encouragement from a women in the fellowship. It changed my life. That's when my own ministry of note writing began.

I attended Montrose for seven years before I married and moved to the country. A few years after I moved, I was hired to work in the church office at Montrose, and I continued to be encouraged by Pastor Crowley. I remember when I first started attending Montrose. I walked past the church office one time and thought to myself: "I'll never be able to work in the church office. I'm divorced." I was also accepted.

Montrose is where I produced the first copies of my book on note writing. Pastor Crowley was happy and proud of my accomplishment, and I enjoyed giving him a copy of the book.




It was a giant miracle to be accepted and wanted, even in a church office. I worked there until Pastor Crowley retired, and soon after I went on to the Baptist Convention of MD/DE, where I met many of my champions. (August 2, 2018 post)

Many people have fond memories of a family member that helped them grow and live as a Christian. But there are many of us that didn't have that experience. Pastor Crowley was the first person who influenced my life on this special walk as a follower of Jesus.

Through the years I've sent him letters thanking him for his walk with God, and how he changed my life. I'm thankful that I wrote him a letter three weeks before his death, to let him know I will never forget his life and how it affected mine.

He died February 14, 2011, a most fitting day for a well loved person.

This year I will celebrate 40 years of living for Jesus. I bought myself a special pendant and had it engraved with the date I gave my life to Christ. It is indeed, well with my soul. Thank you, Pastor Crowley. I will never forget you.









Wednesday, August 15, 2018

My Day In Court

"Learn the luxury of doing good."
Oliver Goldsmith, 1730-1774

I've enjoyed taking pictures of "my" fawn in our backyard. For the past 4 weeks, each evening I sit in the dining room looking out the window, for an hour or two, waiting for them to arrive.  Hope you like the snaps

It's a notice most everyone hates to see in the mail. Certainly not a warm and loving note. "You have been summoned to jury selection."


 
At 69, I've been summoned twice before in MD. I was excused with a doctor's note both times. Now here in PA, the summon arrived. Being retired, and in fairly good mental state, I decided to go.

"I'll tell them I'm extremely emotional and subject to depression and headaches. Surely I won't be seen as a good juror selection." Silly me. Wrong. "You are juror #5," the judge said. I was not happy.


I received this news last Thursday morning at 11:30. "Be back at 1," I was told. I immediately took an Advil in hopes of stopping any headaches. (Seriously)

I called our church office and requested a prayer alert go out. When I saw the email come up on my phone and looked at it, I started laughing. People all the time spell and say my last name with an "r" in it. McGriffin. I've even received checks with the wrong spelling.

In all the confusion of our secretary's time off work for a family emergency, in this email my name was spelled: McGlovern. I laughed! That's just what I needed to get me settled down. I smiled and told God: "You know who I am so just hear all those prayers and remember me."

The fawn are in their natural setting and don't know I'm watching them. The doe look in the windows often because they've seen movement. Another thing that gives me away is a white light blinks when I press the button to focus. But I usually have free reign of snapping without being observed.

It had been a long three hours of sitting and waiting to not be selected Thursday morning. But at 1:30 I was sitting in the juror's box in the court room and listening to open remarks by the attorneys. Surreal. That's how it felt all afternoon. I was stunned to be sitting there listening to a case. I was in another world.



The judge was a jolly man. He smiled frequently and had an expression of "let's be happy." He certainly didn't have the appearance of TV and movie judges. That's all I could compare him too. He took every opportunity to tell us to stand up and stretch while each witness was brought into the court room. One time he did several jumping jacks. I wanted to giggle a few times, but managed to keep a straight face.

Although it was a criminal case, it wasn't gruesome or sickening. It was difficult knowing some body's future was in "our" hands.

We were back Friday morning at 9 and was finally sent to deliberate at 7 that evening. I pulled into our driveway at 10 p.m.



A serious civic duty. I think my life would have been just fine without taking part. But I did it. I survived my day in court. But let's be reasonable. I don't want to do it again.

The judge said we couldn't be called again for three years. Let's see. I'm 69. That would make me 72. What joy! I can opt out at 72.


 Oh, the joy of enjoying something fun!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

My Kind of Champion

The doe was surprised when it came to eat corn to find a turkey family passing through!

"There are some men and women in whose company we are always at our best. All the best stops in our nature are drawn out, and we find a music in our souls never felt before." 
William Henry Drummond, 1854-1907

My dictionary  defines "champion" as "a person or thing that has defeated all others in a competition. Or, a person who fights, argues, or speaks in support of another or of a cause." We all know people we might consider to be a champion: a best selling author; a famous singer, a football or baseball hero, a world class chef. There are a lot of people one could call champion.

But the champion I'm writing about is not that at all. My champions are people who live a daily life for God and who are doing His work. They are faithful saints [champions] of witnesses who try to live their life according to the Bible.

The simple joy of a little vase with lovely flowers!

I'm attending a Bible study on Tuesday mornings at my church, officiated by my pastor. We are studying David Jeremiah's study called: A Life Beyond Amazing. In the chapter about endurance, it is noted that we need champions of our faith to encourage us. And that's when people started telling about the champions in their life.

Usually I hear how this family member or that family member encouraged them and helps them as they walk through life with Jesus. Sometimes the entire family and grandparents are shining examples that bring them joy and hope. Having a family member(s) who you've been able to learn from and watch as they live their life of faith is a wonderful thing. But if you don't have a family member who lives or lived a life of faith, you sometimes feel sad that there is no one for you to celebrate.

My first garden in Maryland will be in full bloom now. It was a joy to walk through it in the early morning. I was always refreshed and quiet, listening to the sounds of morning.

This is what happened to me. There was nobody in my immediate family or extended family who lived a life for Christ. I found Christ at the age of 28 and started my walk in faith with no knowledge of walking with Jesus.

In the early years of my walk in faith, a number of lovely women became friends, and I watched and learned from them what it means to walk with Christ. I still cherish those ladies today.

But on this particular day, while listening to others tell of their champion(s), I was reminded of the champions of faith in my life that I learned from and continue to learn from. I was 44 when God lifted me up and placed me in a work location that was filled with champions of my faith. And I've been learning from them ever since.

I worked for the Baptist Convention of Maryland and Delaware for 16 years and was surrounded by people of integrity, wisdom, and knowledge about my faith. I saw how they interacted with one another, helped one another and used their special gift(s) from God to encourage others.

As human beings, we're not perfect, and these champions weren't perfect. But I saw them do their best to be a living example of the Savior I gave my life too.

Since retiring, I still have contact with a few individuals who continue to encourage me in my walk with Christ. And, I hope, that one day I will be a champion for someone else.

And this is the other end of that refreshing garden.

We've all heard the saying to be careful who you associate with because you will probably become more like them. That statement is indeed true. That's why learning from a champion of your faith is so important.

Biographies and accounts of faithful men and women of God can also help you live your faith. Build yourself up with examples of people who lived faithfully for God. Learn about their struggles and how they overcame.

I may not have been fortunate to be born into a family that lived by faith, and provided examples of His work for me to learn from. But God provided a substitute to help me.

The second garden I created will also be blooming now. How I miss the joy they brought me.

Surround yourself with champions. " . . . We need living, breathing champions around us today as well as others who have gone before us. " David Jeremiah

"Who is the greatest saint [champion] in the world?It is not he who prays most or fasts most; it is not he who gives most alms, or is most eminent for temperance, chastity, or justice; but it is he who is always thankful to God, who wills everything that God wills, who receives everything as an instance of God's goodness, and has a heart always ready to praise God for it." William Law, 1686-1761


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Dig a Well

 I remember when I saw this doe and fawn. It's the smallest fawn I'd ever seen. Must be a day or two old. I found it in the backyard of my favorite deer watching neighborhood in Maryland.

Recently I was made known of a song I'd not heard of before. "Leave a Well in the Valley." I love the words, especially the chorus, and several groups sing it on YouTube.

"Leave a well in the valley
your dark and lonesome valley
for others have to walk that valley too
what a blessing they will find
the well of JOY you've left behind
leave a well in the valley you go through."

Gordon Jensen, Lyrics 

These words struck a cord in me. As a note writer who wants to encourage those that I write, I definitely believe sharing what God has done for you will help others. You can encourage, inspire and motivate a person who is walking through their own valley.

And this was the first time I saw a fawn nursing. Same neighborhood. What a thrill!

The phrase "leave a well in the valley" signifies hope and joy. That you made it through and others will too. My dictionary defines "well" as "a spring serving as a source of water." Such as "streams in the desert."  Isiah 35:6.
 
There is also a book by the same title by Dale Peterson. I appreciate these words he said: "Emotional and spiritual stamina begins with the tiniest seed--thoughts of hope deep within the recesses of our hearts and minds." How true. That word hope matters. Hope. HOPE! GOD'S HOPE!

"But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more."
 Psalm 71:14

Hope is a big word for me. I live it. I trust it. I believe it. Sharing that hope with others makes a difference. 

These are some of the buck that started coming up to our back gate morning and evening from July to October after I prayed and asked God to give me some opportunities to take pictures of buck the previous November. We had eight to enjoy each day.

I also like these words Dave Brown said in the description of this book on Amazon: "God prepares deep valleys for some of us to walk through in order to touch many lives with His love and grace . . . Instead of allowing Peterson's troubles to destroy him, he dug wells in his valleys that would not only refresh him but also water the lives of those his life touches."

I believe strongly in leaving a well in the valley so others can be refreshed. The second verse says:
"Blessed is the man who has learned to understand
He's to be the hand of God to those in need
then all the tears that you have shed
with God's help become instead
a precious balm for those hearts that bleed." 

This doe and twin fawn were one of the first that started coming up to our back gate when we started feeding deer in Maryland. The snap where both fawn heads showed was too blurry. But it's been one of my favorite snaps of doe and fawn.

My life verse identifies with the words "leave a well in the valley:" Proverbs 11:25: " . . . he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."  In Matthew Henry's Commentary he speaks about Proverbs 11:25:

 "The liberal soul, the soul of blessing, that prays for the afflicted and provides for them, that scatters blessings with gracious lips and generous hands, that soul shall be made fat with true pleasure and enriched with more grace . . . He that waters others with the streams of his bounty shall be also watered himself, God will certainly return it in the dew, in the plentiful showers, of his blessing, which he will pour out, till there be not room enough to receive it. (Malachi 3:10)

Our first family of triplets! What a thrill to watch for them each day.

I'm so thankful for the joy that is ours because of the creative gifts of writers who fill our soul with good things to read. I'm so glad I was introduced to this song. It is encouragement to me!

And that well you dig in the valley? It may just refresh you again, for we all walk through many valleys in our lifetime.

This is the first fawn I found lying down in the woods. I was turning a corner in my car and spotted it about 30 feet into the woods. I was able to get out of my car and walk to the edge of the woods and take pictures. Another great thrill for this amateur photographer. 

Yes, He does give you the desires of your heart, even when you just want to take a picture of buck, doe and fawn! "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4