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

A Grandmother’s Prayer

Since we often think about both mothers and grandmothers during the Mother’s Day season, I’d like to share a bit of my heart as a grandmother with you today.

I became a grandmother a little over three years ago, first to a set of twin boys and then seventeen months later to another set of twin boys. Yes, you heard right. And yes, we are incredibly blessed!

As with any grandmother, my joy-factor skyrocketed to a new level when our little loves were born. I’ve thoroughly embraced my new status and want to be the best grandma I can be. And the best way to express my heart’s desires as a grandmother is to share what I’d like to say to the Lord about the new role he’s entrusted to me.

And so I give you “A Grandmother’s Prayer.” It’s not so much a prayer for grandmothers to pray for their grandchildren, rather it’s a prayer for grandmothers to pray for themselves. I hope it will bless you—and that even if you are not a grandmother, you will be able to make it your own in some way. May it inspire prayers from your own heart’s desires!

A Grandmother’s Prayer

Oh Lord, what a gift you’ve given to me, what a trust. The chance to be a loving grandmother to precious and dearly loved grandchildren. My heart leaps and sings for joy just thinking about it. Thank you for this awesome privilege.

I pray, Lord, that my sweet grandsons will never question my love for them. May they always know how crazy I am about them and that I’m in their corner. And more than that, I pray that my love for them will be a picture of your unconditional and unfailing love. May my love and presence in their lives be one of the things that draws them each one to faith in you.

Help me, Lord, to be a winsome example of how to live a life that honors you and encourages others. Whatever happens in my life, help me conduct myself in a manner worthy of you. (Philippians 1:27) And from that, Lord, may my grandsons see traits and qualities they adopt and develop in their own lives.

Finally, Lord, remind me continually that time is short and that these little ones will grow up in a flash. Help me to be an involved grandmother who invests my time, attention, and affection in the precious grandchildren you’ve given to me. Please bless me, Lord, with year upon year of making memories with them and with watching them become men who love and honor you.

All this I pray in your name, Lord. May it be so!

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.” Psalm 89:1 NIV

*How can you pray for one of your heart’s desires?

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*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 daughter Kristin’s photo

Pre-Ceremony Wedding Day Prayer Idea: The Mother of the Bride Prays for the Bride

Mother of the Bride, before your precious daughter says I do on her wedding day, why not send her off into her next stage of life with a prayer? What could be more meaningful than a prayer falling from the lips of the one who has loved her, watched over her, taught her, and encouraged her from the moment she was born? Yes, dear MOB, you are that treasured. Your prayer will bless her in a way that no one else’s can.

On the big day, after your little-girl-turned-bride is all dressed and waiting with her bridesmaids for the appointed time to get into place, have everyone get in a circle and hold hands while you pray for your darling daughter and the love of her life.

You may want to give your prayer some thought ahead of time and make mental note of the things you want to mention so you won’t forget something important to you. After all, your brain may be on overload by the time you reach go-time. Or on the other hand, you may prefer to let it all come naturally in the moment from the overflow of your heart. Do what works best for you. There is no right or wrong way.

One thing is certain—your prayer asking for God’s blessing and protection and for encouraging their total, sold-out commitment to each other and to God will undergird your sweet girl with strength and love and send her off into her new life with the complete support and blessing of her mom. What better gift could be given? I only wish someone had suggested it to me when my girls got married. We missed this special time together because I simply didn’t think about it. But you don’t have to miss it, Mother of the Bride. Now you’ve heard the idea!

So MOB, gift your daughter—and yourself—with this once in a lifetime moment and memory. And rest assured that God will use your send-off prayer in mighty and wonderful ways!

*You might also like to read A Prayer for the Newlyweds, A Prayer for the Bridesmaids’ Luncheon, and Wedding Resource: Prayers for the Mother of the Bride

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*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.)

*Stephtphotography photo of my nephew’s beautiful bride Kaitlynn and her sweet mom Shannon

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

My Life in One Word: Blessed

Two sets of twin grandsons (left to right – Isaiah, Silas, Samuel, James)

(Fyi, I won’t be posting during Thanksgiving week. Everyone enjoy your time with loved ones!)

Have you noticed the challenge on Facebook over the past few weeks to describe your life in one word? Because of time restraints, I usually fly right past Facebook games and challenges, but this one caught my attention. This one was worthy of thought. And not just worthy of thought, but as a blogger always alert to new post ideas, I decided it would make a timely, thought-provoking blog post during this month of thanks. 

So how would I describe my life in one word? I had to think only a second before the answer came. My life in one word is blessed. At other seasons of life, the answer may have been different—as yours may be. But right now, the word blessed sums up my life pretty well.

I am blessed in my personal life. The picture above is evidence. Just look at those four sweet boys. Above and beyond blessings. In amazing answers to years of prayers, God blessed with two babies for our older daughter and her husband—and then blessed again with two babies for our younger daughter and her husband! Yes, God gave us two sets of twin grandsons! Double blessings doubled, huh?

Of course, I am blessed personally in many other regards as well. My husband and I will soon celebrate forty-two years of marriage, our daughters have been and continue to be two of the greatest blessings of our lives, and we have two wonderful and God-honoring sons-in-law as well as extended family relationships and decades-long friendships. Yes, I am extremely blessed by God.

In addition, I am blessed in my professional life. After years of hard work to position myself for possible book publication, God opened the door for my book Mother of the Bride to be published last year. A dream come true for sure. I also feel incredibly blessed to be part of the BroadStreet Publishing family and to be represented by Karen Neumair of Credo Communications, all godly folks who seek to glorify God through the books they help bring to life.

Through my work life as a writer and author, I’ve also made a host of new friends and acquaintances in the business. I feel incredibly blessed to be connected to such a fine group of people. We offer each other encouragement, support, instruction, and empathy as we understand the unique challenges and joys of the writing life. 

And finally—and most importantly—I am blessed in my spiritual life. The God of the universe is my Father, his Son Jesus is my Savior, and the Holy Spirit is my Counselor, my Comforter, and Friend. The Three in One loved me even though I was a sinner and they continue to love me unconditionally. They walk with me through life each day and I have the promise of life in heaven with them for eternity. I can know these things because God has given me the Bible, his Holy Word, to provide me with truth and to be my guidebook through life.

God has also blessed me with the spiritual gift of encouragement, and through the abilities he’s given me to write, he has allowed my written words to touch many lives—some I won’t know about until I get to heaven.

Yes, friends, I am blessed. And no matter what may come in the future, I pray I’ll always be able to see God working in my life. I pray I’ll always see his blessings.

“Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.” Psalm 84:12

*How would you describe your life in one word?

*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