Reflection of the Heart

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                   (Photo taken by me October 31st, 2019 in Banner Elk, NC)

     Proverbs 27:19…”As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”

While writing this, I’m on an annual Autumn Sabbatical that I take in the mountains of North Carolina. Each year I’ve done this trip God has put on me a word or phrase. The first year was a phrase, and it was beat into me (like, really) relentlessly up a mountain. That story is one of the first in the history of this devotional. The phrase was, “Jesus first, Jesus in the middle, Jesus last.” That happened in June, not Autumn, but it began this annual teaching. My favorite was a year when God kept impressing to me over and over, “Great things are coming,” and while on a hike up here what does the graffiti say that I discovered while on a deep hike? “Great things are coming.” It was a pretty cool moment.

This year it’s been a singular word: reflection. That’s all I’ve got to go on, and that’s a dangerous word for person who likes to write raw without edit. Reflection is a word that can be spun into cheesy town so fast, and then down that road of not saying anything while saying something we’d be traversing. I’ve already caught myself once doing that in brainstorming, as I was watching the wind blowing leaves off the trees, and then admiring as they’d flutter lightly to the ground. CHEESE TOWN WARNING. Haha. I’m not going to write fluttering leaf metaphors today. But what am I to write? What am I to learn here on this trip?

That’s the thing…I don’t know yet. I only have questions, but I certainly don’t have any answers, and that leads me to why God wants me to reflect. Just as water reflects the face, our lives are the reflection of what is truly residing in our hearts. If our lives aren’t projecting God, then God is not inside that heart. I truly appreciate that type of straightforward teaching in scripture. I’m here for 3 more full days. This one has been a rainy washout, but quite splendid in the way that I think I needed for my brain to be prepared to tackle this reflection task. I’m relaxed, happy, and now immersed in my surroundings after a long, stressful drive to get here yesterday. The rain has worked to my benefit. Tomorrow the sun shines, the cold comes, and up the mountain I shall go. In reflection mode.

My life, in general, is in a major transition, as one daughter prepares to finish college, and one prepares to leave home and go to college. My days of full time Daddy status are over. That purpose has been successfully completed come June 2020. What’s next? It’s a huge question in my heart and that will continue. I can only surmise that the reason God has given me the word – reflection – is to help me choose the right path…his path…as the doors and opportunities open.

So, we shall reflect…about the past, the present, and what may still be to come. And we will look for God in it all, because the only thing that matters about any of this? Is my life projecting Him? Yes or No.

How about your life? If God asked you to reflect on your life, would you be able to find Him? Seems to be an important question.

Gary Abernathy

 

 

 

The Grateful Series: My Favorite Aromas

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Psalm 115: 4-8 (NIV)…But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk, nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.

In the second part of this series seeking to instill gratitude in our hearts that the Father made us the way that he did, I’m going to be honoring the sense of smell. Our creator has blessed us not only with these bodies to function with, but also with 5 wonderful senses that bring those parts to life. Unlike the endless false idols man uses attempting to usurp God, we can see, smell, taste, touch, and have ears to hear. Do we not take this for granted? For those missing one of these senses for whatever reason, they certainly do not take any of the others for granted. But we sure do. These simple list exercises help to instill appreciation and thankfulness for these miracles. I encourage the reader to make their own lists.

My sense of smell is easily my weakest. I’m not sure why, but no one would ever mistake me for a blood hound. However, it does work well enough for me to have a list of favorite aromas and memories of great smells.

It the spirit of gratitude for our Father, here are some of my favorite aromas 🙂

1. Walking in the doors of Godfather’s Pizza from 1980 to 1984 at Park Road Shopping Center in Charlotte, NC. “Wow, that’s intensely specific,” you say? Ha! That’s my favorite smell of all-time. Nothing has topped it yet. Everyone knows how great the smell is when you first walk into a pizza joint, but this one in particular was ridiculously great. At least that’s how it lives in my memories.

2. The Evergreen Trees at the summit of Calloway Peak in North Carolina. Sitting at 5,964 feet, this is the highest mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountain range. After a strenuous, long hike to reach the summit, the first reward is not the incredible view. It’s the aroma. It smells like Christmas exploded in the best possible way. The commercialism evaporated in God’s wrath, and all that remains is the pure and wonderful smell of natural growing evergreen. When you reach that peak you know you’re somewhere super special. Your nose tells you.

3. My wife’s dirty hair. “What???” That’s right, I said it. My wife’s hair when it hasn’t been washed? Dude. It smells fantastic. I stick my snout in there until she swats me away like a pesky gnat. Then I come back for more 🙂

4. The blooming Jasmine bush Easter Weekend 2019 in Savannah, Georgia. We were staying at an Airbnb on gorgeous Jones Street in Savannah, and upon checking in late at night I could smell something great but I couldn’t see what. The next day I discovered the source. A gigantic Jasmine bush/tree/whatever they are called, in the courtyard of the townhouse. In full bloom. And sending out waves of awesomeness aroma. That bush had strong smell game.

5. Smoldering wood sending smoke wonderfully wafting through the air at any real BBQ place in the Southern United States. It doesn’t matter which type of wood is burning: Hickory, Oak, Cherry, Mesquite, Peach, Apple…it’s all a delight to the sniffing senses. In my opinion, THAT is the official smell of the south. I crave the scent.

6. Freshly cut grass in the summer. Isn’t this a universal favorite smell? Have you ever met anyone that said they didn’t like that smell? No, you haven’t.

7. The aromas of the South Carolina Coast. This goes beyond the obviously great smell of salt air that we all love and identify with as the beach, but also to those unique things about the South Carolina coast that are so amazing. Shrimp boiling or frying, footlong hot dogs being served to your table, the myriad of aromas of a beach boardwalk…I could go on all day. This time next week I’ll be there once again. I always come home.

8. Play-Doh. I was one of those kids. I didn’t eat it, but I wanted to, because it smelled so freaking good to me. I could just bury my snout in the cup and stay there. (Btw, this might be one of the weirdest things about me, but certainly not the only thing). I’m not the only one in this boat I’ll have you know. If you Google, “the smell of play-doh,” you’ll get this description: “Hasbro formally describes the trademarked scent as a unique scent formed through the combination of a sweet, slightly musky, vanilla-like fragrance, with slight overtones of cherry, and the natural smell of a salted, wheat-based dough.” See???
They do it on purpose 🙂