Grandson Photo Fun Plus July Blogging Break

*Don’t miss a special giveaway going on over on my Mother of the Bride Blog. You don’t have to be a mother of the bride to win!

When the month of July rolls around each year, that means it’s time for some Summer Photo Fun here on the blog. And what better kind of photo fun to feature this year than Grandson Photo Fun, right? How can I not share this kind of sweetness with you!

For those of you who don’t already know, God has blessed us with TWO sets of twin grandsons! Isaiah and James are pictured above on the left (James on left, Isaiah on right) and belong to our daughter Kristin and her husband Shawn. Samuel and Silas are on the right (Silas on left, Samuel on right) and belong to our daughter Kelli and her husband Jake. Isaiah and James are now 2 ½ years old and Samuel and Silas will be 11 months old in a few days. We love these little guys beyond words. And yes, they keep us hopping!

Life is so busy for me right now—and July is always extra busy when my husband is on vacation for a few weeks—so I’m going to take a blogging  break and leave these photos of our sweet boys up here on the blog for the next few weeks. Hope you enjoy seeing these little sweethearts—and I will be back with regular weekly blog posts in a few weeks. Have a great July!

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14 NIV

Sweet Samuel

Busy Silas

*I have some family events and travel scheduled for July. Will you be doing anything special this month?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early August. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $15 cash (summer mad money!) 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.)

Casting a Shadow

Shadows. They can be scary, can’t they? They hold the unknown. They sometimes even hold danger.

In life, we encounter shadows of a figurative kind. The menacing ones seem gigantic. Things like cancer, terrorism, financial problems, loss of loved ones, and divorce. Shadows like that can nearly suffocate us.

But not all shadows in life are negative. This time of year—in the heat of summer—shadows provide shade and welcome relief. We don’t run away from them. Instead we run to them. Some we welcome with open arms.

Loved ones cast a comforting shadow when we’re hurting. Mentors provide the shade of experience and encouragement as we try to grow. Friends offer the shelter of companionship when we’re lonely or needing some fun. And the Word of God stands ever-ready to give us whatever kind of refuge we need. No, not all shadows are negative.

The question we need to consider is what kind of shadow are we casting today in the lives of those who know us? What would they say about our influence or our impact on them if given the opportunity?

Do we bring others (or maybe just certain people) down by our negative or critical attitudes and words? Do we add a dark cloud of worry wherever we go? Or instead, do we lift people’s spirits with our happy dispositions and words of encouragement? Do we cast a ray of sunshine instead of an unwelcome shadow?

If you’re like me, it may be a mixture of both. Sometimes our families get an up-close and personal taste of the negative side of our personalities. Hopefully, those are balanced out by all the positive influences we bring into their lives.

Let’s make sure our shadows—whether with family or with the world in general—are the kind people run to, the kind that provide shade and welcome relief.

Let’s cast shadows that people welcome with open arms.

“O LORD, you are my God . . . You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.” Isaiah 25:1a, 4a

*Who has cast a positive shadow in your life?

*My photo

Let’s Give Ourselves a Time Out—For Gratitude!

Too often we wait until November, the month of thanks—or even the very end of the year—to focus on things we’re grateful for, but let’s take a time out to do it today.

After all, we should have thankful hearts all year long, right? Sometimes we let life blaze past us, forgetting to truly appreciate and express gratitude for the blessings in our lives. So let’s do our best from now on to continually cultivate thankful hearts—and we can start by being intentional about it today.

Since we’ve almost reached the midpoint of 2017, let’s each give some thought to the top ten things we’re most grateful for so far this year. Limiting it to this year will help us focus our thoughts on the most recent events in our lives rather than thinking of the general things that always come to mind when giving thanks.

Here’s my Top Ten Gratitude List thus far for 2017:

  1. I’m thankful for being able to trust God for the outcome of a big personal prayer concern as well as some work-related concerns. So grateful for the peace and rest I find in trusting him.
  2. I’m thankful for the times we’ve spent with our daughters, sons-in-law, and two sets of twin grandsons. So thankful for sweet baby smiles and little boy laughter, for snuggly cuddles and precious hugs. Thankful for trips to the zoo and for seeing baby milestones achieved.
  3. I’m thankful my dad, my sister Carolyn, and I got to go meet the newest member of our extended family—Jaxon, my niece Joanna’s baby and my sister Janice’s first grandbaby.
  4. I’m thankful for God’s Word and how he has used it to guide me and to strengthen and encourage me and how he’s allowed me to share it with others through my writing.
  5. I’m thankful to have reached one of my main author marketing goals for the year—participating in bridal fairs.  This has been a challenge because of high vendor fees, but God has led me to two so far on the lower end of the expense spectrum.
  6. I’m thankful for safe travel in all my trips to see our grandkids and also travel associated with my writing. For example, on one trip to Little Rock, I had three close calls on the interstate. I don’t take safe travel for granted.
  7. I’m thankful for the beautiful job Stephanie Wheatley of Wheatley Design did on the Wedding Inspiration cards I developed. Also very thankful for God’s leading in this project as well as my daughter Kristin’s help with various aspects of it.
  8. I’m thankful for good health for Don and me through cold and flu season. Also very thankful that God kept our grandbabies protected from the flu.
  9. I’m thankful for a quick getaway to Branson with Don in May. It had been over five years since we had been there. It was so good to enjoy Silver Dollar City once again—a place where my entire family has many great memories together.
  10. And finally, I’m thankful Don is carrying a lighter teaching load in summer school this summer. Since his Microbiology class is filled beyond capacity, he could never have kept up with all the extra work that causes plus teach Anatomy & Physiology the way he normally does as well.

So there’s my top ten—how about yours? I think you’ll find that when you get started, it will be hard to stop at ten!

“Come and see what God has done, the amazing things he has done for people.” Psalm 66:5 NCV

*What are you grateful for so far in 2017?

*Flickr photo by RnD.de.Portraits, Creative Commons License

A Prayer for Your Summer Plus My May Blogging Break

As I mentioned in my Spirit and Soul Refreshment for Busy Lives post a couple of weeks ago, May can be one of the busiest months of the year. And this year is no exception for me. Probably not for you either, huh?

To do my part in allowing a little breathing room, I’m taking a blogging break the last half of this month. So no worries if it appears I’ve abandoned my blog over the next couple of weeks. I’ll be back with regular weekly posts sometime when June is bustin’ out all over. Let’s say June 6th. June should be in full bustin’ mode by then, right?

Before I break away, though, I’d love to pray for us all as we prepare to head into summer and all that it holds. May this prayer be a blessing to you as we gear up for the upcoming summer season. Feel free to keep it handy to give needed encouragement and refreshment as the days and weeks unfolds.

Pray with me, won’t you?

Lord, you are the Maker of every season and we thank you for the gift of summer. It’s a time to break from many of our normal routines and enjoy more time outdoors in your glorious creation, more time with our families and friends, and more opportunities for travel adventures. Thanks so much for such a wonderful gift.

Guide us, Lord, as we make plans. Help us not to pack so much into the fleeting weeks of summer that we end up feeling stressed rather than refreshed. And please grant your blessing, Lord, that all logistics for special activities and travels will flow smoothly so we can have truly refreshing times instead of those marked by frustration or disappointment. We don’t take mercies like this for granted so we ask humbly and thank you in advance.

Please protect us, Lord, as we do things like hike and swim and play sports. Watch over us, please, in our travels so that we will arrive safely at every destination. Protect us as well from our enemy Satan as he continues to try to undermine our relationship with you and with others. He doesn’t take a season off. Please surround us with your protection.

And finally, Lord, please bless us with lots of sweet times with you and with loved ones this summer. Grant us memories that will make us smile for years to come and also grant us periods of rest that will refresh and re-energize us to get back to normal routines in the fall. And may we shine the light of your love everywhere we go and in all that we do. May you be glorified in our summer, O Lord! In your precious name we pray, Amen.

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us” Psalm 67:1 NIV

*Do you have any special plans or activities that you’re looking forward to this summer? I’d love to hear about it!

The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out early this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*My photo (taken in the Cleveland Botanical Garden)

Fresh from God

17276672462_7b04d5b6fc_zSpring almost always motivates me to pen a new poem. Hope you’re blessed today with my latest!

Fresh from God

Spring bursts with life
fresh from God
tiptoeing in as winter retreats,
surprising with love gifts
wrapped in newness,
delighting our winter-worn hearts.
Spring’s colors splash,
look new, feel fresh,
her songs capture our attention
with the calls and melodies of birds
back from their southern sabbatical.
Ah, spring—so fresh from God.

More fresh-from-God gifts spring to mind
more love gifts wrapped in newness,
romance blooms, life partners given,
babies are born, tiny kisses from heaven,
two become three—or four or more—
new day, new year,
new strength, new plans,
new mercies every morning.
New life in Christ
new home in heaven,
the gifts of God, fresh from him,
ever fresh with life.
Ah life—so fresh from God.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NIV

*What fresh-from-God gift are you rejoicing in today?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a gift valued at $20 (shipping included) from Beigetone Soaps 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 SteveRish, Creative Commons License