How We Can Be Happy Anywhere

6481715361_5595056efc_zDo you ever long to be somewhere other than where you are right now? Maybe live in a different locale or a different home? Work a different job? Maybe even be in a different stage of life or out from under certain family obligations? If you haven’t felt this way in your life yet, chances are you will at some point. I think we all do.

The good news is we don’t have to let our current circumstances dictate our happiness. God can give us a different outlook if we take our eyes off the things we are unhappy about and instead look to him and his Word for peace and joy.

Here are a few things to remember directly from the Word of God that show us how and why we can be happy anywhere, in whatever situation we find ourselves. May we all be blessed, encouraged, and strengthened by the reading of God’s Word today!

“Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.” Psalm 119:54 NIV

“‘. . . Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’” Joshua 1:9 NIV

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10 NIV

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5 NIV

 “. . . for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11b-13 NIV

*Which of these speaks to you most powerfully today? Can you think of any other scriptures to add?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a Starbucks gift card and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by mike hamerton, Creative Commons License

God Walks With Us Through Life’s Surprises

8102465669_6712ae0022_zWonder what God has in store for you this year? You may have a general idea because of things already planned or in the works, but none of us can truly know how the details of our plans may play out. None can predict the twists and turns we’ll encounter along the way. And then, of course, things will come that will catch us by total surprise.

Last year in early January, I knew I was going to be a grandmother again, but God had a surprise of gigantic proportions up his divine sleeve.

By late in the month, we found out that our new grandbaby was in fact twins! And what made it even more amazing is that they would be our second set of twin grandbabies in just two years. That’s right, we went from no grandchildren to four grandchildren in the space of nineteen months. And they were all twins to boot! And not only that, but miracle babies in the face of infertility issues. What are the chances? A surprise only God could have ordained for sure.

We never know what God might have planned for us. My story is a perfect example. Just a little over two years ago, I would never have guessed the miraculous turn of events God had in store for our family.

Has my life changed as a result of these surprise events? You bet. I am indeed busier than ever, but I’m also experiencing more love and joy than I could have ever dreamed. And God’s with me each step of the way, rejoicing with me and giving me strength.

Of course, not all the surprises that come our way are good ones, are they? Three years ago last October, I got an unexpected call that changed my life forever. My mom had been in a car accident and just a few days later she died. And some of you—or some of your loved ones—may have at some point received an unwelcome diagnosis that left you reeling. Some may have found out that your teen daughter or son was going to be a parent. Others may have been received notice that you were no longer needed at your job. And the list goes on. Unwelcome surprises can come in many forms.

So even though we don’t know everything God has in store for us this year, one thing we can count on is that he will walk with us through each unexpected event, whether good or bad. None of it will catch him by surprise. He will be ready to rejoice with us when we rejoice and weep with us when we weep. As scripture promises, he will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)

With the promise of his constant companionship in mind, let’s look forward to the good surprises headed our way and not worry about the possibility of bad ones. God’s got our backs whatever comes.

“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14a NIV

*What surprises has life held for you in recent days or years?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a Starbucks gift card and a signed copy of my book to use personally, to give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by nixter, Creative Commons License

2017 Theme Word: Trust

15004178998_fdf4bb1e5c_zThe launch of a new year means different things to different people, but for me it means it’s time to focus on a new theme word for the year. I’ve never been big into New Year’s resolutions, but the past several years, I’ve chosen a theme word to help guide me through the year. It’s a practice I highly recommend. I can honestly say it has benefited me time and again.

This year the word the Lord kept bringing to my attention in the waning weeks of 2016 was trust. It wasn’t a word that was on my theme-word radar so to speak. Initially the words balance and simplify came to mind, but as I asked God to guide my choice, the word trust kept popping up, first in one place and then another. Isn’t it great how God gives us direction as we seek his guidance?

I’ve got to admit when I sensed God directing me to the word trust, fear tried to sneak in. Why was God leading me to the word trust? Is something bad going to happen? Is God trying to prepare me to trust in him? Of course, I immediately realized I would have to trust him even with this. I shouldn’t run from the word trust. I needed to follow his lead and yes, trust him come what may.

So, I don’t know how the word trust will play out in my life this year, but it will be interesting to see how it offers me direction, comfort, peace, and yes, perhaps even challenge as the year goes on.

Right now when I think of trust, I think of believing, resting, or staying faithful, and I know it will be good to grow in all of these areas. But who knows, God may have something in mind that hasn’t even occurred to me. After all, he works like that quite often, doesn’t he?

One thing is certain, though—God is trustworthy. So with trust as my word for the year, I’ll go forward fully trusting in him and the good work he will do in my life. Join me?

“LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.” Psalm 84:12 NIV

*Have you chosen a theme word or an anchor verse for 2017?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a Starbucks gift card and a signed copy of my book to use personally, to give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by SFB579 Namaste, Creative Commons License

Christmas Poem 2016: A Christmas Letter to God

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*Holiday blogging break details at end of post.

Believe it or not, friends, I’ve been writing an annual Christmas poem for thirty-four years now. That’s a long time by anybody’s standards, isn’t it?

Sometimes I wonder how I’ll be able to come up with an idea for yet another Christmas poem, but I really shouldn’t worry. God is always faithful to give me the seed of an idea and then guide me as I write, helping me to find just the right words or turns of phrase. Yes, it usually takes a lot of trial and error to get there, but God is faithful to help me birth the finished project.

All of our abilities come from him, don’t they? I’m so grateful he’s given me the privilege of touching people’s hearts and lives through the written word. May you be blessed by this year’s poem, my friends!

A Christmas Letter to God

Dear Lord, Christmas finds us sending greetings
To loved ones far and near,
Cards and letters filled with love
And wishes for the coming year.

This year I long to send this letter
Overflowing with thanks and love
To you, my God, my Lord, my Savior,
My King and Counselor from above.

My message this Christmas is simple, Lord,
As I think of you coming to earth,
Coming to live among us,
Bringing new life, giving new birth.

My heart and my pen cry out today,
“Thank you, Father, for sending,
Thank you, Jesus, for coming,
Thank you, Spirit, for staying!”

With love,
Cheryl, 2016

“‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” Matthew 1:23 NIV

*What’s one thing you’d want to tell God if you wrote him a Christmas letter?

*I’ll be taking a blogging break until after the first of the year while everyone is busy preparing for and celebrating Christmas. May you enjoy sweet times with loved ones and have a truly blessed celebration of our Savior’s birth, my friends. See you in 2017!

*Flickr photo by E V Peters, Creative Commons License

Season of Anticipation

5387409984_a2e741f923_z*Giveaway winner announced below!

Ah, the days leading up to Christmas… Such a season of anticipation. We find ourselves looking forward to many things with excitement — visits with family and friends, giving our loved ones special gifts, indulging in our favorite holiday treats, helping make Christmas a little merrier for a hurting soul, or carrying out our well-loved traditions. We each could add our own personally anticipated events to the list, couldn’t we?

I pray that reflecting on the coming of our Savior and time spent worshiping Him will be at the very center of our season of anticipation this year. Let’s take time each day to celebrate the fact that our Savior was indeed born so many years ago. Let’s not wait until Christmas Eve to begin our Christmas worship.

One good way to do this is with music. As you sing the carols of Christmas this holiday season, truly think about the message of each verse. With songs that have become so familiar, it’s easy to merrily sing along but fail to actually hear the messages of the carols with our hearts. Let’s not miss those messages this year. Let’s sing with our hearts.

There’s no better time to start than now. Join me in hearing afresh the message of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” as we sing our worship today! (This is one of several versions of the Latin hymn, author unknown.)

“O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high,
Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!”

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matthew 1:23 KJV

*What special things are you anticipating this Christmas season?

*The winner of the Kick Off the Holiday Giveaway is . . .  Joanna! Congrats and Merry Christmas, Joanna! I’ll put your copy of Mother of the Bride along with the Starbucks gift card in the mail today!

*Hope you enjoyed this encore presentation of one of my December 2010 blog posts!

*Flickr photo by johanneschnelldorfer, Creative Commons License