Devotional

Tuesday’s Devotional

“When you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking.

If you have anything against someone, forgive  only then will your heavenly Father be

Inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.”  Mark 11:25

I use to kneel down for prayer time thinking that I was doing the right things to get everything I ask of from God. Believing that I was doing all the right things, God would definitely hear and answer my prayers. The paradigm went something like this: First, I would attend to my own private space or secret closet to talk with God. Second, I would always include the Lord’s Prayer. Next, my mantra would always be, “God, if you love me, please give me this, or give me that.” Third, would I pray for someone who wronged me??? Yes, by saying “God, you get em.” 

See, I had a dislocated heart and the prayer lines were broken because I did not want to forgive others. Today, not only do I pray for those who I might consider have wronged me, but also I pray forgiveness for those that I have wronged. Today, I spend much time in meditating on scripture, and praying for every good thing to come to those who I believe has wronged me! I received relief, because God so graciously placed a spiritual cast on my dislocated heart and now it has healed. I know the workings of the Lord, and I am being served a six course dinner in front of my enemies. Yet, God has given me a cup that is running over with goodness. I still hurt when wronged; I still hurt when I am misunderstood or when I think a person dislikes me. Do I?  YES, YES, YES.  However, I have found such a mystical release through praying for others that even when I have to shed tears, I know that I am sharing my tears with the one who loves me unconditionally.  Try praying for your enemies and you will see what God can do.

Devotional

Tuesday Devotional

Trust God from the bottom of your heart. Don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go.  He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all.  Run to God! Run from evil!  Proverbs 3:5-7

 

It takes a lot to grow up in a sinful world.  First, we learn the “Golden Rule” and then we learn the “Platinum Rule” and then we find out neither rule works all the time.  One of my professors at Trevecca Nazarene University told my class one time “The more you know, the more you’ll find out you don’t know.”  Therefore, it is that I spend half of my days, saying, “I didn’t know that.”  I grew up as a very insecure little girl, called out of my name mostly because of my ugly facial features. Mentally shielding a secret that caused terrible headaches and premature bedwetting until the age of seven years old, I considered my life so onerous and torn.    What happened to me made me ashamed, and I felt unlovable. As I grew, I grew to hate myself, the mere imagine in the mirror caused me to turn away in disgust. The reason I grew to hate myself was that I thought I should have had control, but I was only a little girl.  I had to learn to forgive in a BIG way.  After reaching adulthood, I went in search of answers, ALL THE TIME, and came to rest upon the words of Jesus.  I thought Jesus had forgotten about me when all the time the abyss that I fell into Jesus was there yes when the bottom fell out of my life; He was there at the bottom to catch me.  I’m glad I learned that Jesus will go to the depth of Hell to rescue one of His own.  For that thing that happened to me so long ago, wounds healed because I forgave the other person and God allowed me to forgive myself.  The devil tried to do permanent damage, but the Lord took that muck and made me whole.  If you are suffering something, if you are in a place that seems lonely and dark “don’t let nobody tell you that God ain’t there with you”!

 

The Giving Garden

Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times.”  Matthew 13:8

 

The Giving Garden

 

The Giving Garden is located on the North Campus of Franklin First United Methodist Church.  While waiting patiently for the move to a larger faith facility, some of the people of the church use the land to draw closer to the community through The Giving Garden.  As they witness God’s wonderful creation, they share in His splendor as they plant crops that produce fresh vegetables to nourish. Their days in The Giving Garden start with shovels in hand digging in dirt, donning hats made of straw and wearing rag like bandannas to keep the sweat off their brow. Stirred up dust clings to their cars and vans, as they drive down a long tree lined road to the one

bend in the road, they proceed and find an open gate where God is inviting them in.  Awakened by the sound of human intruders snakes crawl under rocks, deer run for the safety of the trees, and birds hush their singing so that they can listen intently.  Beckoning, the aged barn sits begging to be used as a storehouse for God.  The old boarded up farmhouse that once heard  

the laughter and the tears of years gone by, stands quietly waiting for what comes next. The people plant here so others can share in the blessing of their harvest and know how the Lord truly is able to supply.  With carefully gloved hands, they pluck weeds and pray for good crops with the thought of how this work will enrich the lives of others.  As the hot sun beats down on the backs of those who believe in the faith of our fathers, they trust in the Lord. Humble are the workers as they watch and see God in all His glory.  They marvel at the way the Lord transforms the good earth to yield to the movements of their working hands.  Everyone is able to share in the plentiful harvest, even if the workers are few.  Arriving are the trucks with non-profit logos

affixed to their doors to gather the harvest to feed those who have less. The vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, some tattered and battling age and another sporting a cardboard sign on the windshield that reads, “We feed the hungry.”  No matter what the reason for the visit, everyone leaves with something. Therefore, you see, the progress in The Giving Garden is due to the blessings inspired through the hard work of those making sure that the garden is green and ripe with giving.  You’ll find no magic in The Giving Garden, the miracle you’ll see is how God provides a bountiful harvest for His glory from the hard work of His people. At the center, The Giving Garden is more than a place for vegetables to grow.  God has provided this cornerstone as a place for healing, restoration, and fellowship.  As the sun sets, the hushed conversations encourage the birds to sing and reach their heavenly quota, as everything under the sun has to earn its keep.  Still hesitant, the deer watch carefully from afar. The snake coils around lush green leaves matching its color for a day in the sun.  Everything is as it should be in The Giving Garden.

   

In many ways, our churches are similar to The Giving Garden.  Some attendees are hesitant and hold back not sure, if this is the place that will hold the answers they are seeking. Others suffer in silence; indeed the world has not been kind.  In the same way the Lord sends a gentle rain on The Giving Garden, the ministers shower us with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  With carefully gloved words from the gospel, the weeds are pulled from our lives.  The church gives us room to

 

grow so that we can give and love from the abundance God has provided.  Many come looking for something fresh to mend their brokenness.  Some come without hope and are lonely, just looking for a place to feel and believe. Thank God, the church helps with our unbelief!  There is room in church for all no matter how tattered and soiled our hearts, no matter what the battle.  Those seeds of faith help us grow.  Like in the garden, at church we find healing, restoration, and fellowship, as well as the grace of God so freely given. Thank God for the Giving Garden and thank God for the church! 

 

Naomi T. Drake;

Franklin First United Methodist Member and Certified Lay Speaker

Giving Babies Food When Their Hearts Are Wide Open.

Giving Babies Food When Their Hearts Are Wide Open.

The other day I attended a funeral of a young man the age of 18. While life is so fragile and many of us do not want it taken away, this young man found the need to take leave.  I walked into a religious environment that was all too familiar from my childhood days of visiting as often as I could St. Theresa’s Catholic Church down the street from my childhood home.  How I loved arriving there with my playmate, Maurice who lived with his grandmother around the corner from my home, and yes, who was Catholic with all of his believing!  Spending Sunday morning at Catholic mass with Maurice listening to a sermon in another language that I could not understand; yet the words were so beautiful.  Yes the words were beautiful to my ears, and I considered the Holy water to hold some mystical substance that caused me to behave during the remainder of the week.  On the rare occasions my parents permitted me to attend mass with my playmate Maurice, I found the exercise of genuflecting my least favorite religious ritual.  However, no matter how often I graced the doors at St. Theresa’s, nothing ever prepared me for the sights and sounds of a comforting place layered and steeped in tradition, ritual, and stone life like statues that graced my presence.  One of 26 parishes that closed in 1989, still standing St. Theresa’s is no longer operating under the banner of a Catholic Church.

This evening I enter another catholic church, but to no avail none of the old familiar sights and sounds that once thrilled and excited aroused me back to childhood.  Yet, one would not hesitate to find certain absences but certain familiarities too.  Outgrowing the childhood memory could be the cause for the ambiguous debate that I am having with my mind.  Perhaps because as hard as I tried to bring back the significance of my childhood, I begin to feel the extreme amount of emptiness sequester between the sadness of two parents who had recently lost their child.  The mother was in an embrace immediately following the greeting of one who came to pay their final respects.  Entering we were greeted with the sound of a deep howl and cry of a wounded animal.  The noise of one who would surely cry out to Jesus in their anguish “Jesus are you sleeping” resonated throughout the medulla of the soul. The grief that shook the very mystical applications of life, happiness, peace, a carefree life all the aforementioned I found missing gone, as if somehow life itself had moved away from us.  The looks of the children, precious babies dressed in miniskirts, Solettos high heel shoes; bright nail polish covers their nails; new summer haircuts.  Boys, dressed in cutoffs, some in shirt and ties looking awkward, with bewildered expressions on their faces, and carrying secrets….maybe?  Sitting alongside the parents during the service were two empty chairs, as the brother and sister circulating through the crowd of their peers were not visible.  Was it too much for them to comprehend, how does grief walk up to the innocent bystander and mingle?  The large portrait at the front of the church, blonde hair blue eyes, attractive, many would say “you lucky dog” he is laughing in the picture, it was a good day, but not now, it is too late for that, not at this moment.  Forever frozen in time.  The mother weeps silently now, as God works His miracle drugs, the administration of angels attending to the heart and the comfort of prayers from the saints.

Not a Priest but a Deacon, started addressing the babies, as they sit hunched over in their seats, teary eyed, drowning in their grief ready with urgency for a word of kindness and instruction to assist with the pain some aid of any kind, even if it comes from an adult the enemy. The air was tense with the aroma of pleading, “just tell us we are not  avant garde, tell us that we are okay kids, tell us it is going to be okay!!!…please tell us, it is going to be okay.” He tells them he is a parent of a teenager, “those of us who are parents do not want to hold you back, but it might seem that way to you as you try to establish your mark.”  From then on through the service those gathered had to put the pieces together of a private tragedy, left in limbo.  Sitting there, waiting for this preacher man to turn traffic cop, give us some directions man!!  Like pull up, slow down; pull over to the curb and rest.  Can’t you see our signals are off?? The preacher told us he did not know the young man, and that the priest told him this was going to be hard.  The father with a tribute to his son took the pulpit stood at the lectern, but also left us in limbo.  Left twice now, the babies nourish themselves. Sharing with us only that he left us too soon, adopted along with the brother and sister, brought from Russia in 1997.  The video had to do it for us, the happy times shared on vacations, the giving to children to make them happy, happy being a mother not from the womb but from the heart, wasting no time being the dad of three children willing to be loved.

Now, as we leave this place we become like the babies struggling to arrive at a point that make sense of this type of grief, looking for direction.  Leaving not having heard the poignant promises of  Jesus “ I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world, you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world” John 16:33  “So, don’t be upset and don’t be distraught.” John 14:27.  You are okay kids, you are okay.

A Nice Lady Indeed

A Fine Lady Indeed:

June 8, 2012

This morning I received the news that a dear friend and church member has passed away. A beautiful person, a beautiful soul transitioned to heaven unaware of the deep-rooted hole she has left in my heart.  Although I have met plenty of nice people, I seem drawn to those who are older than I am for their wisdom and strong scent of spirituality.   Older people seem to hold the medulla of life often times knowing what another should do in a crisis simply because they have heard the story before.  Ms. Catherine was that person to me.  Not only was Ms. Catherine close to a second beat of my heart, she would frequently shower me with her blessed chicken salad.  Her chicken salad was almost the best, if not the best I have ever tasted, along with my favorite recipe of her shoe candy.  Small pieces of candy made in a candy-molded shoe. 

Sharing entertaining conversations through the telephone mostly was a real treat for me; I do not think Ms. Catherine ever did a text message.  No, we did it the “ole fashion” way dialing one another and interacting just the way I learned to converse many years ago.  I never felt a gap in our ages even though Ms. Catherine had children close to my age.  Moreover, I never heard her say to me “I shouldn’t tell anybody” because everything she said about anybody was always so positive.  Ms. Catherine often times shared with me her life growing up near Murfreesboro Road, in Nashville, TN.  Although, behooving to me to remember them, that is their names, and the details are scant at this moment she was so fond of her colored friends that she ended up spending many of her Saturday nights at their home.  Ms. Catherine was not so much about lip service, as she was a servant of the Lord; it seemed as though she loved every one and believed that every one deserved civil rights.  At church gatherings, Ms. Catherine always made sure I had enough of her chicken salad, and she always made me a goody bag to give to Michael upon arriving home, because she said, “he is always so nice when I call.”  It is the little things that make us feel special in a big way!  Although her cats shied away from visitors still she would ask Michael and I to come pay them a visit.  One time Michael was out of town overnight, I called Ms. Catherine to inquire about whether she was afraid of staying home alone at night, and she responded with “no, I got a double barrel shotgun that will keep people away.”  I laughed so hard she gave me the impetus that night not being afraid to stay alone.

Her grandmother taught her how to cook, and what a wonderful cook she turned out to be.  I already mentioned the wonderfully tasting chicken salad, but I have not mentioned the beautiful sorority cake she baked for me.  When I first asked Ms. Catherine to bake the cake, she told me “if you want one of those fancy cakes you’ll have to employ your local supermarket to do that.”  I responded with “Oh, please Ms. Catherine, the local supermarket cannot bake it with love like you can.”  Besides the cake turning out to be super moist melt in your mouth more than one piece immediately following the first one, it was also beautiful!  Ms. Catherine had the sorority colors as the icing in blue, gold, and little women holding some of the sorority’s paraphernalia.   Fancy, Sigma Gamma Rho, Inc. letters “took the cake” no pun intended.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not tell you how much she loved family!  Whenever she mentioned Mr. Bill to me, it was always Bill Farmer never merely Bill or Mr. Farmer.  When she talked about her children, it was always the anticipation of going on vacation with them, or seeing her grandkids.  Although the girls were away she did not speak of them no less than her son who lives in the area.  I could hear the excitement in her voice when she talked of their careers, how smart each one was, and all of their accomplishments.  What I appreciated about Ms. Catherine was she was the sort of mother that let her children go and grow; she wanted them to be happy!  She knew they cared and loved her deeply too.  One of my last conversations with Ms. Catherine she told me that her daughter had come to see about her and go with her to the doctor’s office, so that “they could find out what’s wrong with me.”  While my last conversation with Ms. Catherine was awfully disturbing to say the least because she was not herself, at church she asked me where she was suppose to be, was church out and this was doing fellowship time.

I explained to her that it was time for her to attend church and that it had not started yet, she seemed so relieved.  I recently received a card in the mail from Ms. Catherine.  Ms. Catherine sent the card because she does not often see me in the 10:30 AM church service.  On that particular Sunday that I attended the 10:30 AM service, I was worship leader.  One of the functions of the worship leader is leading in prayer. Ms. Catherine wrote a note card to me stating how much my prayers mean to her, they are with passion and sincere she goes on to say that, it is always a special treat when I am in her service time.  I have received cards from Ms. Catherine since the year 2009.  I am sad that she never taught me how to make the chicken salad; my heart is sore because she is not here for me to talk to.  I am glad she is with “Bill Farmer” because I know he has missed her chicken salad, conversations, and spiritual warmth.  In one of her cards, she told me “I was her hero” I am glad Ms. Catherine brought some sonshine in my life.  In fact, because Ms. Catherine brought more of the sonshine in my life she is a fine lady indeed!