Winter Trees and the Church: Beautiful Support

This may sound odd to some people, but I see a unique beauty in the naked trees of winter. Many would describe them as stark, drab, or depressing. I, on the other hand, think they have a beauty all their own when winter strips them of their leafy glory.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the leafy glory of trees as much as the next person. Watching trees bud out and turn green in the spring holds a special excitement for all of us. Summer then brings lush, full trees to pleasantly fill our landscapes before autumn arrives and sets them ablaze with color. I delight in each of these seasons and the changes they bring to trees.

But I think trees are beautiful in winter as well. Some might think it’s like looking at skeletons, but I see what looks like arms and fingers reaching for and pointing to God. I love looking out and seeing the intricacies of the branches. Winter allows us a view of the support system of the leaf laden trees we enjoy the rest of the year. Without the drab looking branches, there could be no beautiful leaves.

Winter trees actually remind me of other support systems in our lives as well. Just think about our bodies and all that’s working together beneath the surface to keep us up and running. The same can be said for just about every company, group, or organization we might name.

Consider the church. Many programs and people are highly visible, but there are just as many or more serving behind the scenes. And it’s the behind-the-scenes-type activity that makes it possible for the more visible ministries to take place. Everyone needs to do their part to keep things running smoothly—and more than that, to enable growth.

What role are you filling in your church—or life in general? Are you a part of the highly visible, leafy-glory, or is your role a part of the vital support system that’s needed? Maybe a little of both? Just keep in mind that neither is better. Both are needed and valued.

So take another look at the winter trees. Beautiful, huh?

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 NIV

*What support systems in your church, workplace, or organizations are you most thankful for?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out Feb. 1st. 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 check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Oakley Originals, Creative Commons License

*I hope you enjoyed this revised encore post from January 2008!

7 October Stress-Busters

After posting 7 September Stress-Busters last month, I thought it might be nice to offer month-appropriate stress busters each month throughout this next year. Stress certainly doesn’t take a vacation, so many of us might benefit from some fresh stress-busters at the beginning of every month, huh?

May the following stress-busting strategies come in handy in October when you find yourself in need of refreshment and relief. Be blessed, friends!

October Stress-Busters

  1. Enjoy a fun fall activity with some favorite kiddos in your life. Visit a pumpkin patch, collect colorful leaves, or carve pumpkins for Halloween. Enjoy the season like a kid again!
  2. Decompress with the beauty—and awesome autumn scents—of candlelight. Light candles in various spots in your house so their soothing beauty and comforting aromas will refresh you as you move from room to room.
  3. After the leaves change color, go on a walk in the woods (or your favorite tree-lined street or park.) Let the awesome oranges, reds, and golds fill your spirit with joy.
  4. Spend an entire day (or morning or evening) in your favorite comfy pants and cozy socks. As you change into your relaxed attire and let it comfort your body, take off the stress of the day or week as well. Let your spirit and soul relax and be refreshed.
  5. Plan a coffee or lunch date with friends and treat yourselves to some special foods or drinks offered during fall. Get that pumpkin spice latte or apple cinnamon muffin. Slow down and savor a taste of autumn.
  6. Watch for an especially cool evening and start a fire in the fireplace or firepit. Sit for awhile and soak up its warmth and relaxing beauty. And don’t forget to roast some marshmallows or make some smores. Fully enjoy this evening respite.
  7. Let the cool evenings of October give you permission to curl up on the sofa with your favorite hot drink and a good book (or a must-see tv show.) Lose yourself—and your stress—in a compelling or funny story. Enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor.

Along with these stress-busting strategies for October, let’s not forget to turn to the One who knows every stress we face and is willing and waiting to take the load from us and let us relax in his arms. No better place to be—no matter the day or month!

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble 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.)

*Flickr photo by dan.kristiansen, Creative Commons License

I’ll Be Your Wall

6076879792_800b7d9c5b_zDizziness. Vertigo. An injured foot or leg. Any one of these things can find us reaching out to someone or something for support. I’ve been there before, and I’m sure you have, too.

A friend of mine, in fact, copes day in and day out with a medical condition that makes it challenging for her to walk at times. Not long ago during an outing together, a bad spell struck. The distance to a nearby bench loomed large, but with great effort and the help of the cane she carries for just such times, she managed to make it.

After resting for awhile and taking some medicine to ease the symptoms, she felt ready to attempt the next leg of our journey. I had parked the car as close as to the building as possible, but now it felt miles away. Once again, with concentration and slow steps, she moved forward.

At one point, she paused to regroup and said, “If I just had a wall…” I answered instantly, “I’ll be your wall.” I knew she just needed a steadying influence on her side without the cane. With her characteristic good attitude, she made light of the situation, and I joined in. By the way, no matter what we get ourselves into, it seems we always end up laughing about something. I love that about our friendship.

I was glad to be her wall that day. Happy to be her steadying influence. Heaven knows, she’s been mine time and again. But I guess that’s what friendship is all about, isn’t it?

And let’s not forget, we have another Friend always ready to be our steadying influence, always standing by. Next time a bad spell of discouragement, heartache, or pain strikes you, just turn your thoughts to Him. I bet you’ll hear Him whispering, “Don’t worry. I’ll be your wall…”

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10 KJV

*When has a friend been a wall for you?

*Hope you were blessed by this encore post from Sept. 2009!

*Flickr photo by Jens Rost, Creative Commons License

A Fun Gift from the Bride to her Maids: Nail Polish!

8772269823_8b52f2a5a4_zMother of the Bride, at some point in the days or weeks preceding the wedding, here’s a fun gift idea for the bride to give her bridesmaids—nail polish! And not just any nail polish, but nail polish in the color of their dresses or perhaps their bouquets. Fun and pretty, too, huh?

Not only will your daughter’s maids appreciate this special treat, but it will help their overall Wedding Day look come together as well. Variety can look fun and festive on Wedding Day, but uniformity has a special beauty, too.

And just think of the neat photos that might result if their nails are all done in the same color. The photographer, in fact, could take a few shots with their hands in mind. Pretty shots with their bouquets, pops of the same color as they help the bride get into her gown, and even a shot specifically showing off their hands. And if they use the polish on their toes as well, you’ve got more cute photo possibilities ahead!

You or the bride might even want to take the gift of nail polish a step further and surprise the bridesmaids with a professional manicure and have them take their polish to the salon (would probably be a good idea to have purchased the polish there.) This extra treat is entirely optional, of course, but it could be a fun outing for all the girls—bride included—a couple of days before the wedding.

Worth suggesting to the bride, MOB? I think so! And why not get your nails done, too, while the girls are at it? Go ahead—have some fun and treat yourself!

*You might also like to read Polka Dot Nails for the Bridesmaids!

*Flickr photo by Upupa4me, Creative Commons License

A Wedding Favor That Pampers: Beigetone Soaps!

XPRO8554-2 (2)Mother of the Bride, if your daughter loves all-natural products or likes to pamper herself with luxurious soaps, have I got the perfect wedding favor for you to suggest to her!

Beigetone Soaps are fragrant, all-natural soap products handmade by my friend Nancy Douglas.  They come in 1 oz or 5 oz bars and a variety of luscious scents. Most are a creamy treat for the skin while others offer exfoliant action. Nancy offers a few other specialty items as well. Pop over to Beigetone Soaps on Etsy to see her current inventory. I guarantee you’ll be intrigued by what you see.

So why not treat your guests to a little gift from Beigetone Soaps, MOB? Nancy’s Wrapped Favors are 1 oz hotel size bars that last for several days. They are perfect for travel and also work beautifully as sachets and room fresheners. She will personalize the wrapper with the message of your choice as long as it fits comfortably on the label. You could feature a message of congratulations (as seen in the photos above and below), or the name of the bride and groom and the date of the wedding would be a perfect choice, too.

For wedding and other party favors, Nancy asks that you allow four weeks for delivery. Since these are custom orders, time has to be allowed for the soap to cure, labels to be made, and the bars to be wrapped and mailed.

Beigetone Soaps Wrapped Favors will definitely tickle your wedding guests’ favor fancy, MOB. Suggest them to your sweet girl—and then pamper yourself with a few before the big day!XPRO8522-2 (2)

*Find Nancy’s Beigetone Soaps on Etsy and keep up with current news, products, and specials on Beigetone Soaps Facebook page.

*Photos compliments of Nancy Douglas

*You might also like to read Edible Favors—Yes, Please!

*It’s not too late to receive the current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter. Sign-up is free and to the right!