Monthly Archives

September 2016

A Cup of Hope With My McDonald’s Breakfast

September 27, 2016
Our eyes met across the room, two strangers in a crowded McDonald’s lobby, rays of golden sun filling the space between us. I was traveling solo, but I wasn’t alone. Beneath a pale blue summer hat, she smiled shyly and soon we were side by side, inching forward in the breakfast line.
For me, this was a brief stop on the journey north to visit family near the Shenandoah Valley of western Virginia, but many in the bustling restaurant appeared to be taking advantage of perfect weather, starting the weekend on Georgia’s Golden Isles, popular barrier islands along the Atlantic Coast.
The woman beside me seemed no exception. As her companions moved forward to place an order, she paused, speaking softly, initiating the slightest spark of conversation.
Just small talk at first. She didn’t care much for breakfast foods, but her husband and daughter chose the McDonald’s stop. We spoke for a few moments, chatting about nothing in particular, until a soft glow blurred the lines of her aging face, the conversation shifting to a topic close at heart.
Gaze softening, she motioned toward the twenty-something blonde at the counter.
“That’s my miracle baby.”
I smiled, glancing from mother to daughter, waiting for the story to unfold. And in tones still filled with wonder after so many years, she told me.
After years of infertility, doctors gave no hope of a child being born to the couple, dreams of the family they once imagined dissolving with the heart wrenching news, their desire buried with a stark reality.
Until the couple’s twenty first year of marriage. At age 41, long after the light of hope faded, her unexpected miracle baby arrived.
And there was more.
“She’s expecting my first grand baby,” this last bit of news came with an excited smile. Then, with a few more words, the woman was gone, moving through the crowd to a nearby table.
I stepped forward, finally placing my to-go order for a breakfast sandwich, still preoccupied by the unexpected conversation.
While many women her age were attending graduation ceremonies and weddings of adult grandchildren, this soft spoken woman delighted in the miracle of her first.
How could she know I needed her story?
Of course. She couldn’t have known, but a much higher power did. The very word miracle touched a tender place in my own soul, stirring hope for loved ones facing serious, uncertain health crises. Though our needs were not the same, the unexpected beauty shared on an ordinary Saturday morning formed a common bond, settling deep inside my heart.
I hope it resonates with you too.
Anything is possible when God is writing our story. What we view as the end of a chapter may only be the slightest pause of intermission for Him.
Can I promise you a miracle? No. But I can carry on the message of a soft spoken woman in a pale blue hat.
Expect the beauty of the unexpected when life is in His care.
Even long after the embers of hope have cooled, He may ignite a flame of desire and accomplish the impossible. And in His mysterious way, while you and I are in search of an Egg McMuffin, or the breakfast of choice, we might be surprised with a cup of hope instead.
Hebrews 11:1
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

The Secret To A Good Night’s Rest

September 20, 2016
Each day I think tonight will be the one. The one where I will finally drift into peaceful slumber as soon as my head hits the pillow. The one where I will find the calm my soul and body craves. But night after night, an overactive imagination has other ideas, refusing to put the cares of the day to rest.
 Fragments of pale moonlight slip through window blinds, the tossing, turning and adjusting of bed sheets taking their toll. A vitamin or mineral deficiency? Maybe. Too much caffeine? Perhaps. This process of finding a proper balance has been a slow one, adding and subtracting ingredients in hope of finding a solution through nutrition and exercise.
But the heart of the problem doesn’t lie in loss of sleep alone. The true unsettling is that of a restless mind.
Maybe you can relate?
When sleep hovers, but refuses to come close enough to embrace, I find whirling thoughts filter in from all angles. Hands and feet are still, but random streams of consciousness come in a steady flow.
Questions bubble to the surface. Thoughts common to many of us,  but those we rarely want to face in the light of day.
Niggling insecurities. Personal doubts and fears. The well being and safety of those we love in a world filled with turmoil.
Perhaps you’ve experienced it too. That transition between wakefulness and sleep where defenses fall, unlocking a vulnerable place for fear and worry to slip through the darkness unbidden.
If so, you’re not alone.
From my pillow, I brush at a loose strand of hair, one simple question suddenly pushing through all others.
What went well today?
Four simple words. But they are the subtle turning point I need, the slight shifting of gears on this runaway train of thoughts.
And then another one.
What blessing can I dwell upon?
A slow, deep breath and my mental focus changes direction, realization dawning. Thoughts are the seeds that set a pattern for our frame of mind, and those that are nourished are the ones that will grow.
It’s not a big secret, really, but have you noticed that important truths can get lost in the noise of life? In the darkness, you and I have an opportunity. Will we choose to multiply our problems or to count our blessings?
I am learning that we are not called to live in fear of the what if, but in the goodness of what is. And night or day, where the mind chooses to settle, the heart will decide to abide.
When plagued by feelings of past regret or taunted by future unknowns, the good may seem elusive at times, but you and I can hold the admonition of Philippians 4:6-8 close at heart.
In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of a good report; if there by any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
I’m also learning that simply letting go of unruly thoughts isn’t enough. They must be replaced, through slow, deliberate sifting. It is the difference between fear and hope, the open bridge from anxiety to peace, with a standing invitation to cross over. Can we take the first step?
With deep, grateful breaths, let’s find the good. And settle there. Unwinding with thankful hearts, let’s choose to focus on what went well and the beautiful expectation of what is possible when our focus is on Christ.
Sleep may not come right away, but the inner calm and peace of His rest will. And ultimately, that is the most important ingredient of all.