Portal of Hope: Beauty and Blessing Await

It’s not too uncommon to see rays of light shining from behind a dark cloud on overcast days, reminding us that indeed the sun is still there and will eventually break through. Such a sight offers us the extra encouragement we need to hang on until the dreary weather—or current unhappy life circumstance—passes. Those rays of light impart hope, don’t they?

The more unusual sight happens when hope pierces the clouds and forms a window, a portal to the blue skies beyond. We see not just a whisper of light but instead a crystal clear view of the beauty awaiting us. We see the azure glory behind the clouds.

And even though the window view may be small, it’s still an invitation to come and see, to look through the portal and take hope in what lies ahead—to put our trust in God and wait for his perfect timing in giving the promised blessing.

So when the skies of our lives hang low with dark clouds or when overcast days color our existence, let’s remember to look for the portal of hope. All it takes is a small window view to revive our hope for a better tomorrow. For as blue skies eventually break through the clouds, so also blessing comes to those who put their hope in the Lord.

“. . . I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” Isaiah 49:23 NIV

*For what situation do you need to look for the portal of hope and trust God?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out Feb. 4th. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo

A Message for Friends

How long has it been since we’ve told our friends how much they mean to us? Since we’ve told them how much they enrich our lives?

Why not tell them today? Below is a message from my heart to the hearts of those who have touched my life with friendship in a variety of ways.

If you feel the same way about your friends, why not forward this post to them and tell them this is how you feel about them too? I’m sure it will mean the world to them.

May the following bless you all!

Friend,

Spending time with you
Refreshes and refuels me,
Joining you in laughter
Helps heal whatever’s hurting.
When facing challenges together
I’m inspired to hidden strength,
My life is better because of you
For you, my friend, make a difference.

“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement . . .” Philemon 1:7 NIV

*How can you be a friend who makes a difference?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out today. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by ainavidal, Creative Commons License

Where Is God When Times Are Bad?

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

Nothing like a little gem from God’s Word to put things in perspective, huh?

Why is it, I wonder, we are so quick to thank God and acknowledge his presence and hand in the awesome blessings that come our way, but when something bad happens, we say, “Where were you, God? Why did you let that happen?”

When tough times come, has God really stepped away from us? When painful events descend, has he removed his hand from our lives?

If we believe the Word of God—and in particular the above verse from Ecclesiastes—no, God is not an aloof observer when our world is falling apart. He allows grief, hardship, and pain to touch our lives and will use those experiences for good in some way.

Romans 8:28 (KJV) says, ” And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” The question is will we believe that truth and trust God when we are hurting?

Let’s remember that we are dearly loved children of God (1 John 3:1), and he stands ready, just as we do with our children, to help and comfort us through our bad times. Let’s not let our trials distance us from our Father. Let’s draw close to him and let him carry us, trusting all the while that he will not waste our pain.

“Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone. ” Lamentations 3:32-33 NIV

*How has God used your pain to bring about something good?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks 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! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo

Theme Word 2020: Love

Wow, 2020 is here—and that can mean a lot of things, but one thing each new year means for me is deciding on a new theme word for the year.

I’ve never adopted New Year’s resolutions, but for the past several years, I’ve chosen a theme word to help guide me through the year. Focusing on an over-arching word—a quality, an attitude, or an action—can give me direction throughout the year and also helps me focus on more fully implementing whatever the new word is.

I usually start asking God to direct me to a theme word for the upcoming year sometime during November or December. This year lots of words came to mind, but one of them seemed to encompass practically all of the others. In fact, if I implemented that word, I would be implementing most of the others as well.

That all-encompassing word I’ve chosen for the year? Love. Scripture actually explains why I felt like the word love is an umbrella for so many others. Galatians 5:13-14 says, “serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (NIV)

Also, as in previous years, God was so good to confirm my choice. This time his confirmation came through a book I was reading at the time. In fact, as I remember, he confirmed it within hours. The author actually mentioned that her word for the year was love. Pretty clear confirmation, huh?

As usual, I’m not sure what all the Lord has up his divine sleeve this year in leading me to the word love. But as I try to let love be my guide, I’m sure to live out many other qualities and actions as well. Things like kindness, compassion, forgiveness, patience, mercy, endurance, faithfulness, helping, believing, as well as following and obeying God. I bet you can think of even more to add to the list.

One thing I’m doing to help me keep my focus on love this year is reading through Bob Goff’s new book Live in Grace, Walk in Love: A 365-Day Journey. The book actually released in October, but I didn’t discover it until December. And when I did, I knew right away it would be the perfect daily devotional for me in 2020. So yes, you bet I ordered a copy pronto.

If you haven’t chosen a word for the year yet, you’re welcome to join me in focusing on love. I think I’m safe in saying that I’ll (we’ll) be challenged by it every day. And yes, I know that I’ll fall short—and probably daily—but the Author of love himself will be standing ready to forgive and offer his helping hand and perfect example once again. Yes, the Lord will keep showing me what love is all about.

“‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.’” John 15:12 NIV

*Have you chosen a theme word or anchor verse for the year? I’d love to hear about it!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks 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! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flicker photo by Captured Heart, Creative Commons License

Blogging Break Until the New Year

Friends, I usually take blogging breaks around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this year I’ve decided to take a longer break that encompasses the entire holiday season.

Not only will this help take the pressure off during an already busy time of year, but it will also allow me to give myself grace in the continued time I need to recover from some health problems I’ve had the past couple of months. Don’t worry, nothing too serious, but I’ve had to cut way back on the amount of time and mental energy I can give to writing projects.

I’m sure you’ll understand—after all, we’ve all had life situations that require us to take breaks, haven’t we? So thank you so much for understanding, and I pray that God blesses your entire Thanksgiving and Christmas season with blessings beyond measure. I’ll see you again here in the new year! (In the meantime, please feel free to check out the November and December archives for refreshment and encouragement. Hope they bless you!)

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you . . .” 3 John 1:2 NIV

*How will you take the pressure off in your life during the upcoming holidays?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out Nov. 1st. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by bjimmy934Creative Commons License