Embracing the Storms

3450217305_542343a37e_z*I wrote this piece several years ago and used it in the August 2009 issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter. The next issue comes out May 1. If you have not yet subscribed, sign-up is free and to the right!

The phone startles you awake. Your boss asks you to step into his office. An email, a text, or phone message brings you to a standstill in shocked denial. Each of these, just moments in time, intrude with the power to change everything. A storm has hit.

We’ve all been there—most of us several times. The first half of this year alone, my own little family has weathered some mighty rough waters.

First, an ongoing health crisis with my mother-in-law dominated for months before leveling out to a more stable place. Then, with no warning, our son-in-law lost his job in an economy where jobs are few but applicants are plentiful. And finally, another—and far more tragic—unexpected loss struck close to home. A good friend and her son were killed in a car accident.

Through each of these storms, as well as others I’ve experienced over the years, I’ve been reminded that we are not alone. There is a refuge. God stands ready to be our strong tower, our anchor in the storms of life. In fact, it’s during dark times when he shows us the extent of his love and gives us incredible, personal touches. Many times it’s when we’re hurting that he shows himself most tender.

A few months ago I spoke with a loved one dealing with a very private storm. She had no idea how it might eventually pass or what the final outcome would be. I suggested that she try to get past the grief of the situation—to grieve, yes, but then to try to go on as well to embrace whatever God’s will or purpose might be. In other words, I encouraged her to embrace the storm.

We can find great peace in embracing storms. Not because we enjoy them, but because we know God is working through them. Not only that, but as he walks through the storms with us, we can count on moments when he will wrap his arms of love around us and even pick us up and carry us.

I hope I remember these truths the next time a storm sweeps into my life. I hope I can find the strength to embrace it. And when I do? I’m confident I’ll find the Master of the storm already embracing me.

“When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence.” James 1:2–4, J. B. Phillips translation

*Is there a storm you need to embrace in your life right now?

*Flickr photo by jlwo, Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: Look What God Does—Part 2

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A few weeks ago, I shared a passage of scripture that details some of the things the Maker of heaven and earth does, but guess what—one post is not enough. One Midweek Morsel simply cannot cover all that our awesome God does.

So today I give you Part 2—more of what our amazing God does. The first post highlighted how God acts in behalf of those who are in need, but today’s passage gives a glimpse of his mighty power at work in our natural world. What an awesome Creator and Sustainer he is!

“He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name . . .
He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle
and for the young ravens when they call . . .
He sends his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.
He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?
He sends his word and melts them;
he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow . . .
Praise the LORD.” Psalm 147:4, 8-9, 15-18, 20b

Join me today and go out and look for God in his creation and praise him with me, won’t you? What an amazing God we have!

*What handiwork of God’s have you noticed in the natural world lately?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out in early May. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*My photo

Praise Unending

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Has God ever blown you away with His goodness? Has he ever blessed you beyond what you’d asked or imagined? He did just that not long ago for our family with the gift of our grandsons Isaiah and James. We are all still praising him for such an extravagant gift. We are all still in awe.

I’m sure you each have our own stories of God’s extravagant love and goodness as well. Join me in praising him today, won’t you? After all, “‘if [we] keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’” (Luke 19:40) Let’s not let that happen. Let’s praise him!

Praise Unending

Oh Father, how I thank you,
how I praise you!
When I think of how you
opened wide your arms
and lavished your love on us,
how your goodness brought me to my knees
in gratitude,
I lift my face in wonder and worship
praising you with grateful tears and cries of joy.
Oh Lord, I am undone by your extravagant love.
Praise for you lives on my lips,
my tongue tells the story of your glory
like an ever fresh and flowing river.
I will never grow weary of singing your praise
for you, my Lord, inspire it each new day,
for you, my Lord, are ever worthy.
Oh Lord, my Lord, you have my praise unending!

“I will sing of the LORD’S great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.” Psalm 89:1

*How has God blown you away by his love and goodness?

*Flickr photo above by Art4TheGlryOfGod, Creative Commons License. Photo below of our sweet grandsons and our precious daughter is mine. Super cute, right? :)

IMG_1813 - Copy*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out in early May. Sign-up is free and to the right!

Midweek Morsel: My Song

3865193824_577506123d_z*Since I’ve been traveling quite a bit the past few months to help take care of our grandbabies, I’ve been sharing encore posts more often than usual. Hope this one from Feb. 2011 blesses you today!

“The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2b

Are you hurting? Can’t feel a song within your heart? During a recent time of sadness and hurt feelings, God brought the verse above to my attention and reminded me that he is all I need. My joy, my reason to sing, does not depend on others. He is my song.

If you’re hurting today, I pray that you will turn to him and let him be your strength. I pray that you will let him be your song!

“Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.” Psalm 24:7

*When has the Lord been your song during a difficult time?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out in early May. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by Dennis Wong, Creative Commons License

Confessions of a Choir Junkie

6553031375_cc47471709_z*Since I’ve been traveling quite a bit the past few months to help take care of our grandbabies, I’ve been sharing encore posts more often than usual. Hope this updated April 2009 post blesses you today!

Okay, I admit it. My name is Cheryl, and I’m a choir junkie. I’ve been getting regular fixes for nearly 45 years now. At this point, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to quit.

Yes, I started young. Like so many others, I got hooked as a teenager. It didn’t take long for church choir to become addictive. I couldn’t help it. I loved to sing. Still do. And not just the occasional choir special for a Sunday morning service. I go in for the hard stuff — the cantatas. Just this morning, in fact, our choir did our Easter musical for the Palm Sunday service. And by the way, I lost track a long time ago of how many cantatas I have under my belt. Probably between eighty and ninety if you figure two per year — Christmas and Easter both.

We choir junkies stick together. We have to. We need each other to really soar. I’m an alto, even though I’ve always wanted to be a soprano. I’ve always envied the gals in the choir who can get really high. But the rest of us — the altos, the tenors, the basses — sing harmonies that add a completely different dimension to our shared effort, that take us all to new heights. Yes, we need each other to achieve the most satisfaction, the most glorious highs.

Okay, silliness aside, know what gives choir members the deepest satisfaction of all? Giving and bringing glory to God as we lift our voices as one, as we use the talents and abilities he’s given us to honor him and bless others. Isn’t he good to let us do that?

I’d say if I have to have a habit, choir’s a pretty good one to have, huh? How about you? Anyone else a choir junkie?

If you don’t love to sing, what do you love to do? Are you athletic or artistic? Maybe you love to bake or quilt or any other number of wonderful possibilities. I’d love to hear about some of the things God has given you a knack for — the things you really enjoy doing. Go ahead and brag on God a little. After all, we are His workmanship!

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God planned in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out in early May. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by Stefan Karpiniec, Creative Commons License