What Will I Do When a Storm Descends

*I pray this encore post from April 2011 blesses you today!

A potential health crisis threatened our family a few weeks ago. A cancer scare. Like storm clouds hovering overhead, thoughts of “what if” cast their shadow for days. We deliberately tried to shove them aside, but they were still there, hiding just beyond the surface.

I won’t go into specifics of who and what, but the scare did not involve an extended family member, but one within our immediate family. Yes, that’s right. It hit close. Too close. And too unthinkable — though I had to remind myself, like so many others have had to do, not to ask “Why us?” but “Why not us?”

Thank God, benign test results relieved our fears, but those days of waiting gave rise to countless thoughts, feelings, and ultimately a few overarching questions: If it proves to be cancer, what will we do with our faith in God? Will we stay faithful and continue to trust him even if the news is devastating? Or will we pull away — and stay away — from him, losing faith that he is good and that he loves us? In other words, will we run to him or away from him?

Mercifully, God spared us from having to live out the answers to those questions in full, but we tried to prepare ourselves for the worst. We remembered the truths of God’s love for us and of how he can bring something good out of a heartbreaking situation. We reminded ourselves that he would be with us every step of the way. You might say we were preparing ourselves to be faithful, preparing ourselves to trust him, no matter the outcome.

One day a similar life test will go differently. One day we’ll have to live out the answers to these faith questions in full. Some of us reading this today have, in fact, already faced such a crisis, but even so, will we be ready for the next one? Join me today in considering, “What will I do with my faith when the unthinkable happens? What will I do when the storm descends?”

“But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign LORD; in you I take refuge…” Psalm 141:8a

*What helps you stay faithful to your faith in God when times of heartbreak come?

*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!

*My photo

Pre-Ceremony Tip for Wedding Day: Keep It Calm

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*I won’t be posting next week during Spring Break, but I will see you back here on March 28. Maybe you can check out the archives and Favorite Post list in the meantime!

Mother of the Bride, one last gift you can give your daughter before she becomes a Mrs. is a calm environment in the hours leading up to the wedding.

Yes, MOB, make it your goal to keep those pre-ceremony hours on the big day as stress-free as possible for your baby girl. Do your best to help her to head into the glorious but demanding hours of the wedding and reception well-rested and focused only on her beloved and the joy of the day.

One thing you can do to keep things calm in the hours before the wedding is to make sure your girl has interactions with only a few people—her immediate family, bridesmaids, and hairdresser, etc.

Since extended family and friends are already gathered for the wedding weekend, it’s tempting to plan breakfast or lunch (or another activity) as a group, but resist that temptation. There will be plenty of time for more interaction with one another at the wedding and reception. No need for your daughter to be “on” any more than is necessary before the wedding. Once she heads to the ceremony site, there will be no slowing down for her until she rides off into the honeymoon sunset with her love.

For those few things she has to do early on the big day—like get her hair done—keep it as low-key as possible. Have only one or two people accompany the two of you to the salon. If you’re at a hotel or have company staying in your home, bring food to the bride’s room and let her eat without having to interact with a crowd. Suggest she ask only her sisters and/or bridesmaids to join her.

Every family’s circumstances will be different, but you get the idea, MOB. Adopt the spirit of the advice—keeping things calm for your sweet girl—and adapt it your individual situation. Your little girl-turned-bride will be forever grateful!

*You might also like to read Mother of the Bride’s Wedding Day Advice for the Bride and Most Important Part of the MOB’s Wedding Day Attire.

*Flickr photo by Corey Ann, Creative Commons License

Church in My Backyard

DSC03385*I won’t be posting next week during Spring Break, but I’ll see you back here on March 28!

I’m not the most observant person in the world. Case in point: We helped move our daughter and son-in-law to a townhome in a new city one November several years ago, visited them on the following New Year’s weekend, and then again over the following spring break, but it wasn’t until the trip after that that I noticed they had a church in their backyard—or side yard to be exact. The point is it’s right there.

Imagine my delight when I looked out the upstairs bedroom window early one morning before anyone else was stirring and saw a church tucked behind the stand of trees lining their development. Wow, I thought. They’ve got a church right in their backyard! I could feel a blog post coming on so I grabbed my camera and started snapping away.

Even though Kristin and Shawn didn’t end up attending this particular church, I was still excited to think they had a church—such a visible reminder of God—standing tall and strong so close to their home. A picture of God, if you will, living in their midst, watching over them, inspiring worship and peace for any who would open their eyes and see (the way I finally did!)

Believe it or not, I have a church in my backyard, too. No, it’s not a building made of stone and brick. It’s simply my yard. But it’s filled with visible reminders of God. The trees, the grass, the birds, the breeze all point to him and remind me that he’s living in my midst. He’s watching over me, and yes, inspiring worship and peace when I take the time to lift my eyes and turn my thoughts toward him.

Amazing, huh? I can’t help but proclaim, “Wow—I’ve got a church in my backyard!” How about you?

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song…” Psalm 98:4

*Where are some places, other than church, where you’re inspired to worship?

*Hope this slightly revised and updated encore post from March 2010 blessed you today!

*My photo

9 Easy Ways for the MOB to Bond With the Groom

MOB seeing groom for first time

Mother of the Bride, now that your daughter is sporting an engagement ring, you may be wondering how you can develop a closer relationship with your soon-to-be son-in-law. Hopefully you’ve gotten to know him fairly well during their dating days, but officially becoming part of your family—well, that takes the whole dynamic up a notch, doesn’t it?

Never fear, MOB—here are nine easy ways you can bond with the groom:

  1. Spend time with the happy couple—have fun together! This may seem obvious, but with everyone’s busy schedules, you may have to be really intentional about spending time together. Don’t miss the big dividends this simple step can pay.
  1. Take a genuine interest in his job, his dreams, and his interests. Ask him about these aspects of his life and show him your support in whatever way you can. Praise not only his accomplishments but also his character.
  1. Treat him to his favorite food or restaurant. Make his favorite pie or cake or treat him to his favorite eating spot. Bond over barbecue or steaks.
  1. Include him in family traditions and help him get to know your extended family and friends. Traditions always serve as bond-builders so take advantage of this whenever you can. And as your soon-to-be son gets to know your other loved ones, you’ll both feel like he’s becoming part of the family. Another benefit is that everyone will feel more comfortable with one another on wedding day and that just adds to the joy!
  1. Become acquainted with his family and include his mom in some aspect of the wedding planning. He will appreciate every effort you make to get to know his family better and will be especially grateful for ways you can make his mother feel included in the biggest event of his life. The better you know his family, the more you’ll have in common.
  1. Conspire with him to plan a surprise for your daughter. If he asks your help concerning something he has in mind for the engagement, his wedding gift for her, the honeymoon, or some other surprise he has up his sleeve, welcome the opportunity to be involved. A shared secret is super fun and another great bond-builder. If he doesn’t come to you, initiate a surprise of your own for your sweet girl and recruit him to help pull it off.
  1. Ask for his help or advice in his area of expertise. This may or may not have to do with a wedding-related task. The important thing is he will feel affirmed as you seek out his knowledge or skill, and it will also give you a chance to get to know him on a different level.
  1. Pray for him. He may not know you’re bonding when you do this, but you will. As you pray for him, you’ll feel closer to him and that will naturally manifest itself in all your interactions.
  1. Show excitement about his plans for the honeymoon. He won’t tell you all the details, but be happy with him over any little detail he does share with you. Your excitement will boost his confidence and joy and he’ll be grateful for your support.

So there you go, MOB—start bonding away! You’ll both be glad you did. And your darling daughter will be so happy to see you grow to love and appreciate the love of her life. Definitely a win-win-win!

*Adapted from Chapter 10 of my book Mother of the Bride: Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride.

*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!

*Photo by Chris Humphrey

Gift Idea: Prayers for the Mother of the Groom

IMG_8654Mother of the Bride, have you thought about giving the mother of the groom a little gift of some sort? This didn’t occur to me when I was an MOB so you may not have thought of it either. But giving a small gesture of acceptance and friendship is always worth the effort, isn’t it?

One great gift idea for the MOG is the book Prayers for the Mother of the Groom by Traci Matt. Designed for use during the last two months leading up to the wedding (or MOGs could start earlier and go through it a couple of times), this book is a wonderful resource for Christian moms who desire to cover their sons, themselves, their families, and the entire bridal party in prayer as they all go through the life-changing event of a wedding.

Each of the sixty selections included feature an introductory paragraph or two about some aspect of the wedding or the changing family dynamic, and then Matt shares an in-depth prayer addressing the topic of the day. Matt’s prayers spring from the truths and insights she’s gleaned from the Word of God and from her own personal experience as both a mother of the groom and a mother of the bride. With each selection Matt also shares a feature called “Something Borrowed”—a quote applicable to that day’s topic.

In this nicely done self-published paperback book, mothers of the groom will discover an extremely thorough and heartfelt guide for their own prayers. Not every topic mentioned or every prayer prayed will apply to every MOG, of course, but each mom will be able to easily apply what pertains to her and skim over the parts that don’t quite fit her situation. With Matt’s wisdom and skillful and easy-to-read writing style, I think mothers of the groom will love using this book.

So MOB, does this sound like a gift you’d like to offer to your future son-in-law’s mother? If you can help the prayer effort going up for your soon-to-be son and your precious girl, I’ll be you’re all for it, right? Why not bless the MOG today with a copy of Prayers for the Mother of the Groom!

*You might also like to read Make the Mother of the Groom Part of the Team and Kicking Off the In-Law Relationship.

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out tomorrow. Sign-up is free and to the right. Your name won’t be included in the giveaway draw until the next issue comes out, but it’s not too late to receive this issue. Sign up today!

*My photo