Thursday, July 30, 2015

My Personal Retreat Day

Yesterday, I enjoyed a personal rejuvenation retreat at the Peaks of Otter in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. For 35 years, this peaceful place has served as a respite for me and my family.

Camp outs when the children were young
Nature walks
Hiking to Sharp Top
Anniversary dinners overlooking the lake
Meeting friends to share a quiet breakfast
More picnics than I can count

Grandchildren forging new territory in the rippling creek beds
Ranger talks
Early Sunday morning church services in the amphitheater
Long, lazy talks around a crackling campfire
Gooey Smores
Hunter's Stew
BBQ chicken wrapped in foil and placed in hot embers
A raccoon sneaking Cheese Nips from my husband's hand
A banana peel neatly left on the stone table (also the work of a raccoon)

Laughter in the tent.
Awkward trips up the gravel path to the bathroom, a single flashlight beam piercing the darkness.
Thoughts processed, Scripture read, favorite book highlights discussed while gazing into the fire.
Tears of joy at the Creator's work in and through our lives.
A deer family frozen in the brush, eyeing us, we eyeing them.
Then a graceful bound, rustling leaves, and no more deer.
A snake warming itself on a rock in early spring.
A spontaneious escape from cabin fever in February. Patches of snow. Garbage bags retrieved from the car trunk. Multiple runs down the small slope. Squeals of delight. Cheeks ruddy and plump.
Hot cocoa in the lounge, fire blazing, checkers waiting.

So many rich memories! My personal retreat day welcomed them all back, savoring them like a fine chocolate.

In need of rest and refreshment, I packed a water bottle, lunch, satchel filled with my Bible, journal, camera, other enriching books, camping chair, and good shoes, and set out.

Forty minutes later, I pulled into a quiet spot overlooking the serene lake. Overcast skies gradually cleared to blue while I read, slept, jotted notes, prayed, and reflected on my journey over the past year and a half--a rich time of housing our grown missionary children, each family in various stages of their ministry. With seven grandchildren and two foster grands adding excitement to the mix.

What laughter, joy, and yes, frustration and exhaustion at times.

But I wouldn't trade any of it for any amount of money!

Yet, an intentional day away proved exhilarating . . .

Placid water with gentle current.
Lush greenery.
Rambling trails.
Gift shop full of locally-designed and fired pottery, cards, lavender saches, and miscellaneous confections.
A walk. A pause to study a fern leaf or a giant oak with branches stretched heavenward.
A yearning. A cry to God. A filling.
Peace. Joy. Love.
A new dream that only God can bring to light.
A calm assurance in God's hand at work in those I love.

Ah..h.h.h.h.h.h.......a perfect personal retreat day. 

Peaks of Otter official website

For your personal retreat or group retreat

Friday, July 24, 2015

Winnable War: Major Companies Reject Planned Parenthood

From my first college debate on the Supreme Court ruling of Roe vs. Wade in 1973, I felt passionate about preborn life. A few years later, my passion increased after I lost two babies at four months gestation.  As I held those tiny, perfectly formed bodies, my heart wept for women who were duped into thinking the babies they carried were merely globs of tissue easily discarded. 

My concern led me to volunteer as a phone counselor for the Liberty Godparent Home in Lynchburg, VA. I talked to several young moms calling from phone booths while their mothers stepped into a store. Secretly, they reached out for help, not knowing where to turn. Thankfully, they’d picked up a card with our number on it. 

On the heels of this effort, my family and I teamed up with other concerned Christians to pray at abortion mills, a.k.a Planned Parenthood. This opportunity led to several face-to-face encounters with girls coming to the clinic to discuss terminating their pregnancies. Again, thankfully, our team was present to stand in the gap between life and death for these babies, and to assure these hurting and confused moms that other options existed. 

In more recent history, my burden increased for post-abortive mothers and their babies, which led me to write a novel titled, Laughing with Lily. This story profiles a special ed teacher who's hiding a past abortion from her husband. He desperately wants children, but she can't bring herself to tell him she's infertile due to the horrendous procedure used in the killing of her baby. She can barely come to terms with it herself. Her struggle to release the past involves disturbing dreams, painful flashbacks, an unexpected encounter with a person from her past, a special friendship with an older woman, a new romance, and another surprise (I won't give it away) that she definitely doesn't see coming, nor do many readers.

When all is said and done, in this case written, my heart is to reach out to women hurting physically, emotionally, and spiritually as a result of abortion, to exalt human life at every stage and in every circumstance, and to help those who haven't experienced abortion offer grace to those who have. 

Check out the article below for one take on 
the current cultural atmosphere concerning this front-line issue.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Faith, Friends...and Chocolate!: Beach Beatitudes

Faith, Friends...and Chocolate!: Beach Beatitudes: Beach season is upon us! Perhaps your family plans to head off for your annual “chill-out” or should I say, “burn-out” since the...

Thursday, July 2, 2015

America, Land That I Love?

As I type this post, I hear my grandchildren singing at the top of their lungs, "You're a Grand Ole Flag!" And tears come to my eyes.

For I wonder, Is this a land I continue to love? Perhaps, it's because I love America that I weep. Weep for what she used to be. Weep for what she's become. And weep for my innocent grandchildren.

You see, I just contacted my state officials to ask them to respect and uphold First Amendment rights. As a result of the supreme court ruling legalizing same-sex unions (I can't call it marriage, because God defines marriage as between one man and one woman) in all 50 states, county clerks across our land who honor God's design and refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples are at risk of losing their jobs or going to jail. 

Yet, they are standing firm, and many state representatives are standing with them! Hats off to them!

What will the decision of five unelected justices mean for the future of America?

In keeping with many conservative voices, I agree that the June 26 ruling is merely the tip of the iceberg. The ACLU and others desperately want to stamp out any and all reference to religious belief and expression. Still, millions of Americans do not share their hatred for the godly principles that made this Nation great! And many are standing firm on what they believe.

Those who honor the God who chose to bless America because of her allegiance to Him will prayerfully continue to honor Him. Sadly, their commitment will likely reap serious consequences for them and their children, who are left to pick up the pieces of a fractured America. 

In reality, it has always been so. From America's inception, leaders like John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, among others, were willing to stake their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor on birthing a nation who acknowledged God, the Creator who rules in the affairs of men. George Washington's journal is full of prayers to God, His Savior, and his love for and leadership of America bore evidence of his devotion to God.

John Adams, the second President of the United States, is quoted as saying, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."*

The Bible says, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD . . ." (Psalm 33:12a, NASB). 

Building our country on His principles reaped the fruit of blessing. Conversely, restructuring a country on other than His principles reaps turmoil and destruction. 

Clearly, this is not what He desires for us and our children. 

We as believers realize that America is not our real home. We are citizens of a heavenly land. But while we are here, we are called to be salt and light. We are called to perpetuate His godly principles in a land grown dark and cold.

The hymn, "Rise Up, Oh Men of God," comes to mind. Men and women who shed God's light on this needy land. Who take seriously their call to lead their churches, families, and communities in righteousness.

Because marriage is the best visual aid of God's love for Israel and Christ's love for His Bride, the Church, it comes as no surprise that satan would target this divine institution. In this wicked endeavor, he's targeting the very heart of God, the Gospel. 

America, land that I love? Yes, but I hold an even greater allegiance. To God. 

In the words of the contemporary song, "May all who come behind us find us faithful." 

And may we gift our children and grandchildren a country that honors the Author of freedom.   

* Quote from the following source: Adams, John (2004). Cited in Kerby Anderson, America’s Christian Roots (online). Probe Ministries. In reference to a letter to the officers of the First Brigade of the Third Divison of the Militia of Massachusetts, October 11, 1798. Charles Francis Adams (Ed.), The Works of John Adams—Second President of the United States. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, & Co., 1854, Vol. IX, pp. 228-229.

The End of One Story, the Beginning of Another

I flip through the calendar, a gift from my missionary daughter. Family face after family face jump off the pages. Grandkids roasting mar...