Tuning Our Ears

Do certain sounds capture your attention while escaping the notice of other people? For example, a distant cry of “Mom!” may find you turning your head instinctively. Or if you’re my little grandsons, the sound of the garage door opening is not just another outdoor sound, but it means that Daddy is home. And they hear it every time. Their ears are tuned for it.

While hiking and exploring recently in Colorado, my ears perked up to the songs of nearby birds, but my traveling companions didn’t take particular notice of them. For them, birdsong was just a pleasant part of nature’s backdrop, but for me, it signaled a chance to capture some photos of birds I may not regularly see. Since I enjoy taking photos, my ears and eyes are tuned to opportunities, just like my grandsons’ ears are tuned to the sound of their daddy coming home.

We tune our ears—and our eyes for that matter—to the things and people important to us, don’t we? Since we have different loved ones and different interests, it follows that our ears will be tuned to different things for the most part.

For those of us who are believers—children of God—let’s ask ourselves if we’ve made sure to tune our ears to his voice. Whether he’s speaking through his Word, through the voice of the Holy Spirit within us, through the wind or the waves or the birds singing overhead, or through the timely word of a friend, do we hear him? Do we take notice? Are our ears tuned to God?

Let’s tune in. We don’t want to miss hearing from our Savior and our God!

“. . . love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 30:20 NIV

*What helps you tune in to God’s voice?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out earlier this month. 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.)

*My photo

Instead of Tossing the Bridal Bouquet

Mother of the Bride, some brides may be looking for an alternative to tossing the bridal bouquet. Have you and your daughter talked about that age-old tradition yet? If not, strike up the conversation with her and find out if she’d be interested in doing something a little different.

One option I’ve heard about is that instead of tossing the bridal bouquet to the single gals in the crowd, the bride gives each one a flower from her bouquet and takes a moment to pray with her, asking God to help her wait on the man God has for her. Each young woman or girl goes home with a meaningful memento and memory of that special moment with the bride as well as encouragement to wait for the best.

If your daughter wants to keep or preserve her bridal bouquet, simply order a tossing bouquet from the florist and use that one as the giveaway bouquet. The bride’s gesture will be just as meaningful and create special memories just the same.

So go ahead, MOB—share this idea with your daughter and see what she thinks. She may want to stick with the age old tradition—and that’s fine—but she may get super excited over such a meaningful alternative and say “Let’s do it!”

*You might also be interested in Green Wedding Trend: Rent and Borrow More Items.

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out earlier this month. 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.)

*Flickr photo by Flower Factor, Creative Commons License

Just Married Sign and Photo Idea

Mother of the Bride, many newlyweds want their photographer to take a special photo using some sort of Just Married sign. If your sweet couple hasn’t mentioned this to you yet, you might check with them to see if that’s something they’d like to add to their list of photos for the photographer.

I found this super-cute idea for a movie clapboard Just Married sign recently and just had to share it with you. Isn’t it clever? The wedding date can be included, and the bride and groom can have fun with listing whatever “take” they want as well as deciding on their pose in the background. They could even ask their photographer to take a shot using the bokeh effect as in the photo above and also one without to insure they end up with a photo they love.

Why not share this post with the bride and groom, MOB, so they can make plans for a super-cute Just Married photo of their own. They may like this movie idea or it may spark an idea for something especially meaningful to them personally. And when it’s all said and done, you can call it a wrap!

*You might also like to read Wedding Day “Just Married” Photo Idea and Honeymoon “Just Married” Photo Idea.

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. 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.)

*Flickr photo by madebyWstudio, Creative Commons License

Guest Post: The Pruner’s Knife

I’m thrilled to share a guest post by my dad, Duane Hoy, today. He is eighty-three years young and has known the Lord since age twelve. May his insightful words and message bless you in a special way today!

The Pruner’s Knife

As I sit at my breakfast table and look out the sliding glass doors, I’m able to look a few feet beyond my patio and see my new young Royal Star magnolia.

It is not to be confused with other large varieties of magnolia trees. It is more naturally a bush but can be trained to grow more like a tree by cutting all but the strongest trunk and letting it grow like a small tree. It’s a very early bloomer being covered with snowy pure white blooms, this spring starting in mid-February.

My landscaper planted mine a year ago in the spring after I spotted it at a nursery in west Tulsa on the other side of the Arkansas River.

My heart was immediately set on getting one for my backyard, fulfilling a very long-held desire. I enjoyed three wonderful weeks of glistening snow-white blooms this last spring.

I am so wonderfully reminded of a beautiful individual who had a small to medium size Royal Star magnolia in his backyard.

Bro. John Howard and his wife Grace lived in a small block house on N. Grand in Pittsburg, KS, where our young family had moved in the early 1960s.

After thirty years of missionary service in India, Bro. John and Grace came back home to Pittsburg. He never owned a car but walked his routes in  Pittsburg, still being a missionary for another thirty years.

A very kind and gentle man, he would walk to our house way out on the north end of town to pay a short visit and pray for us and especially our four little girls—that they would develop into the godly women they are today. Then I would drive him back home. Needless to say, he was indelibly printed on my heart in a forever way.

As I observed my magnolia a few weeks after its blooming, I noticed the new growth was coming out in more of a horizontal direction. As it is yet only four to four and one half feet tall, I wanted it to grow in an upward direction, so I took the sharpest blade on my knife and made several studied cuts, removing the end growths on some limbs, hoping for the best. Some weeks later here in mid-June with plenty of rain, quite a bit of new growth is flourishing. Sure enough it is reaching in an upward direction.

This caused me to reflect on my own life and maybe you too have experienced some difficult circumstances, ones that might cause us to wince and cry out in pain.

Could it be that our master gardener is seeking some upward growth in our lives, reaching up to Him?

“‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener . . . every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.’” John 15:1-2 NIV

How has God used his pruner’s knife in your life lately?

The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. 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.)

*My photo

Ever-Ready Refreshment

Have you noticed how we set our sights on the summer months for periods of rest and refreshment, for times to recharge? We take breaks from regular activities and make efforts to get away from home for a while, whether to a vacation destination or a trip to see family or friends. We long for a change and a chance to catch our breaths.

Sometimes that works for us and sometimes it doesn’t. Life may have other plans. We may not get to go on that getaway. Or sometimes we go, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t provide the rest and refreshment we desired and needed.

Whether our plans to refresh and recharge work for us or not, we can take comfort in the fact that nature’s ever-ready refreshment is within our grasp each day. And that, my friends, is a truth that inspires poetry. Hope my latest blesses you!

Ever-Ready Refreshment

Just outside my door I find it
nature’s own remedy,
a ready retreat
an instant vacation
the ever-ready refreshment I need.
When my body needs fresh energy
or my spirit needs a lift,
when my soul cries for God’s own touch
the great outdoors soon beckons me.
A few steps and moments later
the very air around me changes
as I pass from indoors to out,
as I breathe in nature’s tonic.

The miracles in God’s world around me
never disappoint,
as I listen for the song of birds
or hear the wind sashaying through the trees.
The sights, the smells, the sounds, the feel,
and yes, the taste of God’s ever-ready refreshment
set my weary heart to singing,
re-energizes me once again.
And I found it all
just outside my door.

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Jeremiah 31:25 NIV

What aspect of creation particularly refreshes you? The ocean? The mountains? Maybe the wide-open fields or the forest? Perhaps flowers? Do tell!

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes out tomorrow. It’s not too late to receive it (though you won’t be eligible for the giveaway until the next issue.) 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.)

*My photo