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

How We Can Be Happy Anywhere

6481715361_5595056efc_zDo you ever long to be somewhere other than where you are right now? Maybe live in a different locale or a different home? Work a different job? Maybe even be in a different stage of life or out from under certain family obligations? If you haven’t felt this way in your life yet, chances are you will at some point. I think we all do.

The good news is we don’t have to let our current circumstances dictate our happiness. God can give us a different outlook if we take our eyes off the things we are unhappy about and instead look to him and his Word for peace and joy.

Here are a few things to remember directly from the Word of God that show us how and why we can be happy anywhere, in whatever situation we find ourselves. May we all be blessed, encouraged, and strengthened by the reading of God’s Word today!

“Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.” Psalm 119:54 NIV

“‘. . . Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’” Joshua 1:9 NIV

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10 NIV

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5 NIV

 “. . . for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11b-13 NIV

*Which of these speaks to you most powerfully today? Can you think of any other scriptures to add?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a Starbucks gift card 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 mike hamerton, Creative Commons License

Appreciation Giveaway in Every Life Notes Issue Now!

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Something new is on the horizon for all subscribers to my Life Notes newsletter—a giveaway in every regularly scheduled quarterly issue! I probably won’t do many giveaways here on my blog anymore, but don’t worry, you can still get in on the giveaway fun if you’re a Life Notes subscriber.

All current and new subscribers will automatically be entered to win each time, and I will announce a winner in each November, February, May, and August issue. Occasionally I send out a special issue with big news, but those issues won’t include giveaways—unless it’s just a surprise. Who knows, that might happen sometime!

The giveaway prizes will be varied throughout the year, but the next issue of Life Notes will come out in early November and the prize will be a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble.

The past several years I’ve had a subscriber appreciation giveaway this time of year and have given the B&N gift card so I thought I would go ahead and continue that tradition for our November issue this year. For other issues, the prize may be a book, a gift card, or whatever else I happen to decide. Fun, huh?

So, if you haven’t yet subscribed to Life Notes, why not go ahead and do it today? Sign-up is free and to the right. To be included in the draw this time, be sure to sign up by Oct. 31st. Doing the giveaways will give me a chance to show appreciation for my subscribers all year long now. I really am grateful for each and every one of you who take an interest in my life and writing. Thank you so much, friends!

“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Philippians 1:3 NIV

*How do you like to show appreciation for people in your life who support you?

*Flickr photo by racineur, Creative Commons License

A Blogging Change Plus a Bridal Veil to Consider

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Mother of the Bride, now that I’ve got lots of great help for you in my blog archives, I’m going to cut back on my new posts just a bit. I’ve been blogging twice weekly here on my Mother of the Bride Blog since June 2013 and have also been posting twice weekly on my inspirational blog for an even longer period—since September 2007. Since that’s a lot of blog posts to keep up with and since I’ve reached a point where I need to devote more time to other projects (and people—like my grandchildren! :) ), I’ve decided a change is needed.

So from now on, I’ll post weekly—generally on Tuesdays—here and also on my inspirational blog. Remember, you can find a storehouse of ideas and help in my archives. Just click on the drop-down menu to see the titles of posts that interest you or use the search feature above to look for posts by topic.

And now on to a beauty of an idea for your daughter to consider as she plans her bridal attire—a cathedral veil! A cathedral veil might not go with every gown or style of wedding, but if it might work with your daughter’s, be sure and ask her to consider it. So elegant and beautiful. And just think of all the great photos—before the wedding (as in the shot above) and during the ceremony itself. Plus, a cathedral veil must make a bride feel like a queen for a day, don’t you think?

So, MOB, give your sweet girl a royal pep talk and see if she’ll go for a cathedral veil. Then you can be the queen mother! :)

*You might also like to read Bridal Veils: The Corded Veil and Bridal Veils: The Birdcage Veil.

*Flickr photo by kudomomo, Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: God’s Call to Something New

travel-1233762_1920Has God ever asked you to do something entirely new to you? It happened to the Old Testament prophet Amos. This is how Amos described it to Amaziah the priest:

“‘. . . I was neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore fig trees. But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”’” (Amos 7:14-15)

Amos had two work roles and was probably quite skilled in each, but God gave him an entirely new and different assignment. If you’re like me, you can just imagine what his initial response might have been. Lord, I’m used to dealing with sheep and trees. Are you sure you’ve got the right guy for the job? But whatever his first thoughts, we know Amos answered God’s call and followed where he led.

Are we ready to step out of our comfort zones to answer God’s call? Let’s remember Amos the next time God gives us a new and different assignment. Let’s remember that God can use us in unlikely ways!

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

*Has God ever asked you to do something you felt inadequate for?

*CCO Public Domain Photo