Growing in a Hard Place

Last summer while on vacation with my husband, I witnessed one little flower after another growing in hard places—in the nooks and crannies of rocky formations above tree line in Colorado.

I spotted the flowers pictured above in the Mount Evans Wilderness area. The flowers found there (and in other alpine regions throughout the world) display a delicate but hearty beauty that seems to cry out, “Look at me! I made it! I’m growing in a hard place. I’ve survived harsh conditions and my beauty is declaring God’s glory!”

And today we each have an opportunity to be like the alpine flowers—we can grow in the hard places we find ourselves in.

Due to the current worldwide coronavirus pandemic, we have literally been thrust into harsh conditions—threat of illness and possible death of ourselves and our loved ones, social isolation as we join together separately to rob the virus of opportunity to spread, financial losses and loss of jobs for many, and an inadequate supply of medical supplies, food, and other product shortages as people panic and start hoarding. Most of us have also had to place certain plans or events on hold—some of them very important like graduations and weddings.

Some of us are dealing with living in other hard places at the same time. Some may be grieving the loss of a mate, family member, or friend. Others may be struggling to keep a marriage afloat. Some are living with chronic pain or long-term health problems and some are even battling cancer or other life-threatening illnesses.

As we each struggle with our own set of harsh conditions, let’s remember that if we hang on, the beauty will come. Persevering and overcoming struggles always serve to make us better, to help us grow. We will have the chance to declare to the world, “Look at me! I made it! I’m growing in a hard place and I’m declaring God’s glory!”

Hang on, friends. God will see us through—and oh, what beauty will come!

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 1 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV

*Are you seeing any beauty in your circumstances yet?

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

Marching Orders to Strengthen You

“March on, my soul; be strong!” Judges 5:21 NIV

I saw this verse years ago in one of Beth Moore’s blog posts. She was sharing scriptures about marching since it was the month of March, and I instantly fell in love with these simple yet powerful words: “March on, my soul; be strong!” And today in the midst of the national emergency we find ourselves in regarding COVID-19, these words take on new meaning.

Just reading or saying these precious words from the Word of God seems to infuse my soul with his encouragement and strength. I think most of us probably feel the need for such encouragement on a daily basis as we face the challenges of life, but there are times when the need for fresh strength eclipses everything else.

Are we faced with a difficult road to travel this month? Yes. Do fear and uncertainty loom ahead? Yes. Are we worried about the pandemic? Yes. And maybe some of us are facing other difficult roads as well. Maybe a continuation of an already difficult journey where no end is in sight.

Whatever the case, let’s allow the breath of heaven—the Word of God—to give us our marching orders and the strength to carry them out. Let’s march on!

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.” Psalm 84:5 NIV

*What has God done recently to strengthen you for a difficult road?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. 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 NINXIVICreative Commons License

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—For Living a Life of Courage

My monthly blog series featuring sentence prayers that invite God’s power continues today with a focus on courage.

I don’t know about you, but rarely a day goes by that I don’t need courage in one way or another. Whether facing a dreaded task, dealing with a difficult person or situation, starting something new, or facing the fear of an unknown future, I need a power and strength beyond my own to move forward. I need the Lord. And I bet you would say the same.

May the following sentence prayers help express your heart as you call on God’s power for living a life of courage. Be blessed and encouraged, my friends!

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—For Living a Life of Courage

  1. Lord, help me not to fear what the future may hold but to trust you to walk with me through every age, stage, and situation. (Joshua 1:9; Matthew 6:34; Philippians 4:6-7; Acts 2:25)
  2. Lord, give me courage to follow your leading and do the work you’ve called me to do. (1 Chronicles 28:20; John 4:34; Colossians 4:17; 2 Timothy 4:5)
  3. Father, grant me courage and perseverance to press on in the face of setbacks and hardships. (2 Chronicles 15:7; Proverbs 24:16; Luke 13: 31-33; Galatians 6:9; Philippians 3:13-14; Hebrews 12:1-3)
  4. Father, give me courage and boldness to live as a light for you and to share my faith with others. (Matthew 5:14-16; Acts 1:8; Romans 10:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:8)
  5. Lord, empower and embolden me to speak the truth in love and to take a stand for you and the teachings from your Word even when it’s unpopular. (Daniel 3:9-30; Acts 4:1-20; Ephesians 4:15, 25)
  6. Father, give me courage to admit when I have sinned against you or wronged others as well as the courage to ask for forgiveness. (Psalm 25:11; 51:1-12; Matthew 5:23-24; Luke 15:11-22; 1 John 1:9)
  7. Father, grant me strength and courage to fight temptation and to stand against the attacks and schemes of Satan. (1 Corinthians 10:13; Ephesians 6:10-11; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9)

Friends, may God shine through us and be glorified in this world as we seek to lead lives of courage!

“‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’” Joshua 1:9 NIV

*What task, trial, or situation do you need to face with courage today?

*The current 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.)

*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 prodigy130, Creative Commons License

Free Fly Like Autumn Leaves

I love to watch the autumn leaves—and not just for their colors. I love to watch them fly as well.

The leaves of fall are free flying. They’re not bound by a must-follow route or a set of rules. No one tells them to drop at a perfect 90 degree angle—or any other angle. Each one is different. Each one takes its cue from the wind at the moment it falls.

Some fall headlong, landing right below their former homes. Others venture a few feet away as they drift gently through the air before finding a new resting place. Still others fly like crazy on the wings of a major wind gust, soaring as never before, looking like frolicking birds—up and down and all around, going great distances before running out of breath. Yes, autumn leaves are free flying.

Makes me want to do some free flying myself. Anyone else?

The good news is we can. As believers in Jesus, as children of God, we can free fly on the wings of his Spirit living within us. We can abandon ourselves to his leadership, whether on short straight paths, lilting walks, or adventures of a lifetime. Following the Spirit, we’ll soar as never before.

We can also free fly on the wings of encouragement. Sometimes all we need to be spurred on to try something new or go after a dream is the confidence inspired by a friend or family member who cheers us on. Sometimes all it takes is a little push. We then find ourselves free flying and loving every minute of it.

Other times it takes a little more. It takes a major gust of courage to launch our flight. The ride holds out hope of great and mighty things—but only if we’re willing to take the risk, only if we’re brave enough to step out of our comfort zones or battle whatever problems are trying to hinder our flight.

As the leaves free fly around us this autumn season, let’s ask ourselves if we’re ready to do a little free flying ourselves. Let’s abandon ourselves to the wings of the Spirit, let’s fly on words of encouragement. Let’s be bold and allow courage to carry us to new heights. Let’s free fly!

“. . . where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV

*How have you been free flying lately?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. 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 _hq_, Creative Commons License

God Stands Near and Gives Courage

“. . . the Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Take courage!’” Acts 23:11 NIV

We’ve all been there—in situations where the stakes are immense and our courage has all but vanished. The life of a loved one may hang in the balance, a disaster may threaten to crush us, or a dream may be crumbling before our eyes. Fear grabs us by the throat and leaves us shaken in every way. We need courage and strength beyond our own.

We find in the Bible that the apostle Paul was no stranger to desperate and dangerous circumstances of his own. The instance from the passage above happened one time when Paul was in Jerusalem. A great uproar had broken out amongst the Jews over Paul and his teachings. He faced deadly mob violence until Roman soldiers took him prisoner. Then when the commander had Paul speak to the Sanhedrin—the supreme Jewish court—the circumstances turned violent again. And again, the Romans intervened and took Paul prisoner.

Just when Paul must have been wondering if he’d make it out of Jerusalem alive, the Lord came and imparted courage to him. Scripture tells us he stood near Paul and told him to take courage, that he had further work for him to do. Whether the Lord stood there physically or in spirit, he came to encourage Paul—in fact, to give him courage. And he drew near to do it.

Will not the Lord also come to us when we are in dire circumstances? Will he not also stand near us and speak courage and peace to our hearts when we desperately need it? Indeed he will. We can count on it. We can count on him. 

“say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come . . . he will come to save you.’” Isaiah 35:4 NIV

*When has the Lord drawn close and imparted courage, peace, or strength to you?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. 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 Curtis Simmons, Creative Commons License