Getting Ready for a New Challenge or Adventure

*I’ll be taking a blogging break during Spring Break so will see you back here Tuesday Mar. 27. Blessings to all!

“‘Go through the camp and tell the people, “Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan River and take the land the Lord your God is giving you.”” Joshua 1:11 NCV

The Bible is filled with accounts of ordinary people faced with new challenges or adventures. Men, women, teens, children, senior citizens, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, married, single—you name it and we can find an example of such a person who had to move into unchartered territory, step out of their comfort zone, or simply take on a new task in one of their areas of expertise.

God tasked Joshua with leading an entire nation of people—the Israelites—into the land he had promised them. After God spoke with Joshua—instructing, encouraging, and preparing him for the task—Joshua set about preparing the people for the challenge and adventure ahead. He sent officers through the camp with instructions.

Joshua’s order rang out—“Get your supplies ready.” They had three days before they would take possession of the land God was giving them. They needed to get ready for the conquest, they needed to get ready to move. Among other things, they had to prepare and pack their food as well as gather and secure their belongings.

Is God leading any of us to a new land? A new physical location or a new circumstance? Is he calling us to some sort of unchartered territory, asking us to step out of our comfort zone, or perhaps giving us a new task in one our areas of expertise?

Like Joshua and the people of Israel, what do we need to do to get ready for the task before us? The answer will be different for all of us, depending on the specifics of the  challenge. Let’s spend a few minutes considering what we should do then let’s begin preparations. Let’s get our supplies ready.

“‘Get ready; be prepared . . .’” Ezekiel 38:7 NIV

*How have you prepared in the past for a new challenge?

*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 check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by jev55, Creative Commons License

Prayer Transforms—Prayer Changes Me

You’ve heard it said that prayer changes things. Well, sometimes.

Sometimes we see God answer our prayers through changed circumstances or hearts, but other times things don’t change. The house goes into foreclosure. The divorce is finalized. The cancer rages on and finally wins the battle. For whatever reason, God, in his infinite—and loving—wisdom has not seen fit to change the thing we’ve brought to him in prayer time and again.

But one thing I’ve found to be true about prayer is that even when God doesn’t grant the change I desire— when he says “no” or “wait”—prayer still brings about change. It changes me.

As I bring my burdens to him in prayer, changes take place in my heart. Sometimes they’re dramatic and instantaneous, but more often than not, they blossom a step at a time as God does the work in my life that will draw me closer to him, that will conform me into his image.

Anxiety and worry melt into peace and calm assurance in my heavenly Father. Anger and unforgiveness grow into grace, like the grace given so freely to me. Bitterness that may have crept in gets uprooted while negative feelings about someone are replaced by compassion and love. My wisdom and need to control give way to the blessed relief of trusting utterly in him.

So even when it seems prayer is not changing circumstances the way I’d like, I’m grateful to know that coming to God in prayer is indeed doing a transforming work. I’m grateful to know that prayer changes me. How about you?

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV

*When has the Lord changed you as you’ve prayed to him?

*I hope you enjoyed this encore post from February 2011!

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out in early February. 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 check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by kabilsCreative Commons License

7 January Stress Busters

by Cheryl Barker  CherylBarkerWriter

Happy New Year, friends! What say we kick off 2018 with some January stress busters? Hopefully you’ve been enjoying—and benefiting from—the monthly Stress Buster blog series I’ve been offering over the past few months. I pray you’re finding some new ideas and also being reminded to try some strategies you may have heard of or tried in the past.

As far as January goes, some might think that since the holidays are over, January would be smooth sailing. But January holds stresses all its own.

Many are coming face to face with paying for their Christmas spending while others are paying in pounds for their holiday eating. Some may be battling the stress of cabin fever and others are dealing with the stress of winter blues and seasonal affective disorder. And then, of course, there are the regular stresses of life that plague us any time of year. So yes, Virginia, there is indeed stress in January.

May the following January stress busters help get your 2018 started off on a good foot. Be blessed as you try them, friends!

7 January Stress Busters

  1. Before getting out of bed, start each day with a short prayer. You could say good morning to the Lord while telling him you love him and asking him to go with you through the day. Or perhaps you can give your day—and yourself—to the Lord and ask him to help you be a blessing to him and to others. As you put your focus on him first thing in the morning, you’ll be more likely to turn to him when stress begins to mount.  
  2. Increase your physical activity in simple ways. Try standing or walking while doing some of the tasks you normally do sitting down. Or take the stairs at work rather than use the elevator. Think of your own routines and get creative. Let endorphins released during exercise combat the stress of the day.
  3. Take some time one evening to relax and re-read the Christmas cards and letters you received in December. Most of us are so busy during the days before Christmas that we don’t have the time to truly savor the beauty and messages of the holiday greetings we received. After reliving those greetings, go ahead and recall some of your favorite moments of the season and give God thanks. 
  4. Soak up some sunshine every time you get the chance. January can have an abundance of gray days so when the sun comes out, take advantage and recharge. Whether at home or out and about, when it comes time to find a place to sit, choose a spot in the sun. And if possible, spend some time outside when the sun is shining. Soak up the rays even if the air is still cold.
  5. Make a few simple changes in spending habits to help pay off your bills more quickly. Instead of buying bottled water or expensive hot drinks, fill up a stainless steel insulated bottle or tumbler with your favorite hot or cold drink and take it with you. Also, don’t spend your change. Save it and apply it to a bill that’s weighing on your mind. Spend a few minutes evaluating your habits and see what else you might be able to do.
  6. Make the most of the cold weather and enjoy the cozy comforts of January. Savor the warming effects of candlelight, comfy throws, snuggly sweaters, and fires in the fireplace. And don’t forget to wrap your hands around a cup of hot cocoa, coffee, or spiced tea. Enjoy!
  7. Break free and go on a spur of the moment outing. If you’ve been snowed in or are staying in as much as possible due to bitter temps, brave the elements and get away from the stir-craziness of your four walls. Go see a movie, meet friends for coffee and conversation, or go wander the aisles of your favorite home improvement store and make plans for spring and summer projects. Do something to re-energize your spirit.

Here’s to less stressful living in 2018—in January and beyond!

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NLT

*Which of these stress busters will best hit the spot for you?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $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.)

*Flickr photo by Caaru, Creative Commons License

Fall Comfort

Fall is a season of comfort for me. The comfort of comfy things, the comfort of nature’s beauty, the comfort of a Father who is always near at hand no matter the season.

When I thought of the phrase “fall comfort” not long ago, I thought “poem.” So here is my latest poem, friends, brought to you courtesy of Autumn herself. I hope it helps you enjoy the season even more than you already are. Fall blessings to you all!

Fall Comfort 

The oven-hot heat of summer
finds us longing for fall’s arrival,
the comforts of a cooler season
taunt and tease us from a distance.
Then one morning the air carries a nip.
We call “Fall is here!”
and pull out a pair of cozy socks
as we ready ourselves for the day.
If the chill lingers all the day through
we declare more fall comforts in order.
Mom’s chili in the crock pot
home-baked cookies cooling nearby,
comfy pants for easy living
and a favorite hot drink in hand.
Then add a scented candle
for the perfect finishing touch.

Of course, nature’s beauty in fall
holds a comfort all its own.
God’s splendor on display
for all to see.
The brilliant colors, short-lived as they are,
cause us to cherish autumn days
cause our hearts to be warmed.

And what comfort to be found
in our Father in heaven,
the Creator and Sustainer
of not only nature’s seasons
but the ever-changing seasons of our lives.
He is always near at hand,
he is never far away.
Comfort for fall and beyond.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,” 2 Corinthians 1:3

*What things about fall bring you comfort?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out this week. One lucky subscriber (subscribed by noon Oct. 30) 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. Giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue! (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 niseag03, Creative Commons License

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