Casting a Shadow

Shadows. They can be scary, can’t they? They hold the unknown. They sometimes even hold danger.

In life, we encounter shadows of a figurative kind. The menacing ones seem gigantic. Things like cancer, terrorism, financial problems, loss of loved ones, and divorce. Shadows like that can nearly suffocate us.

But not all shadows in life are negative. This time of year—in the heat of summer—shadows provide shade and welcome relief. We don’t run away from them. Instead we run to them. Some we welcome with open arms.

Loved ones cast a comforting shadow when we’re hurting. Mentors provide the shade of experience and encouragement as we try to grow. Friends offer the shelter of companionship when we’re lonely or needing some fun. And the Word of God stands ever-ready to give us whatever kind of refuge we need. No, not all shadows are negative.

The question we need to consider is what kind of shadow are we casting today in the lives of those who know us? What would they say about our influence or our impact on them if given the opportunity?

Do we bring others (or maybe just certain people) down by our negative or critical attitudes and words? Do we add a dark cloud of worry wherever we go? Or instead, do we lift people’s spirits with our happy dispositions and words of encouragement? Do we cast a ray of sunshine instead of an unwelcome shadow?

If you’re like me, it may be a mixture of both. Sometimes our families get an up-close and personal taste of the negative side of our personalities. Hopefully, those are balanced out by all the positive influences we bring into their lives.

Let’s make sure our shadows—whether with family or with the world in general—are the kind people run to, the kind that provide shade and welcome relief.

Let’s cast shadows that people welcome with open arms.

“O LORD, you are my God . . . You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.” Isaiah 25:1a, 4a

*Who has cast a positive shadow in your life?

*My photo

Midweek Morsel: Secure in God

Mount Moran from Oxbow BendMuch can happen in our lives to shake our security. On a national front, terrorists seek to steal any sense of security and safety we as Americans may have as we live our daily lives. On a personal front, serious losses can rock us to the core. Loss of a loved one, loss of a job and steady income, loss of good health, loss of a marriage. Rejection, failure, and betrayal can all leave us trying to make our way through life on wobbly legs.

What is the answer? Our only certain security lies in God, in depending on and trusting in him. With God by our side, we can indeed experience peace, rest, and joy as we depend on him, when we follow him and allow him to be our strength.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s place our trust in God. Let’s rest secure in him.

“I have set the LORD always before me,
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,” Psalm 16:8-9

*What do you do when you feel your sense of security slipping away?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*My photo (Mt. Moran in Grand Teton National Park)

Theme Word for 2016: Adventure!

DSC05436Do you mark the beginning of a new year by selecting a theme word for the year? Some people refer to it as an anchor word and others even choose an anchor verse from the Bible. I jumped on the theme word bandwagon back in 2012, and I’m so glad I did.

I love how a theme word keeps me focused on a particular quality or action throughout the year. I don’t think of my chosen theme word every day, but I do think of it periodically. It helps keep me on track or gives me guidance. It does indeed feel like an anchor, especially during times of decision both large and small.

The word I’ve chosen for 2016 is adventure. Exciting, right? Yes, but in my mind, also a little scary. What will the year hold? Will I embrace the adventures about to unfold? Will I be up for the challenges?

One reason I chose adventure as my theme word is because of the huge adventure that awaits me with the publication of my mother of the bride book. As you may know, this is my first time around the book publishing block so it will all be one huge adventure for me—not only working with the BroadStreet Publishing team to get the book ready, but also marketing the book once it’s released. And since I will do some traveling in order to market this niche book to mothers of the bride, I anticipate plenty of new things and adventure along the way.

Another adventure that will keep me plenty busy—and traveling as well—will be my ongoing adventure of grandparenting twin baby boys. Isaiah and James turned one year old yesterday, and they are on the move. Their mama and daddy can benefit from an extra pair of hands and a little relief from time to time, and I am more than happy to provide that when I can. They live nearly six hours away so I’m not able to help as often as I’d like, but I do my best to make the trek every month or two.

I’m not sure of all the other adventures (which many times present themselves as challenges!) that the Lord has in store for me this year, but one thing I’m sure of—he will be with me every step of the way and carry me if need be. And even though nerves may try to get the best of me at times, I really have no reason to fear. I am not alone on this adventure we call life. The Lord will be my strong support and guide. And he is always up for a challenge!

“‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?’” Isaiah 43:19a

*What adventures await you this year? Any you would like to initiate yourself?

*My photo

Midweek Morsel: A God Who Gets in the Boat

12400141055_1de52c804c_z“Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.” Mark 6:51a

Are you familiar with the boat story that took place after Jesus fed the crowd of five thousand?

When everyone had had their fill, Jesus told his disciples to get into a boat and go on ahead of him so he could have a private time of prayer. Later on that evening when the boat was in the middle of the lake, Jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars because it was so windy. He decided to walk out on the water to them. When they saw him, they were terrified. They thought he was a ghost. So he identified himself at once, told them not to be afraid, and then climbed into the boat with them. The wind died down—and I imagine the disciples’ fears did, too.

Just as the disciples had a Savior who came to them and climbed into their boatload of fear and struggle, we too have a God who gets in the boat with us. He comes to our aid when the winds of life are beating us down. He enters our lives and our pain. He gets right in the middle of our trials and struggles and brings peace. So don’t be afraid. We have a God who gets in the boat.

“. . . do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

*When has God gotten in the boat with you?

*The Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway is underway. Details are in my Oct. 19 post and sign-up is to the right under “Free For You.” Deadline is 6 p.m. Nov. 11. Don’t miss out on the chance to win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble!

*Flickr photo by Richard Clark (Digimist), Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: Covered

DSC04411

Anyone anywhere covered by a blanket of snow right now? Here in our corner of the nation’s breadbasket, we got a little snow earlier this week but haven’t really seen much of the white stuff this winter. However, I know some regions of the country have been hit hard with heavy snowfalls in recent days and weeks. And they’ve been the kind of heavy snows that can be hard to dig out of.

Of course, there are those of us who may be covered by other things today. Even weightier than snow. Some are covered by the burdens of grief, debt, pain, fear, or broken relationships while others of us in happier seasons are feeling blanketed with joy, excitement, gratitude, renewed strength, or love.

Whatever our differing situations, whatever we’re covered with today, isn’t it good to know that we can all be covered with the love of God? That because Jesus shed his own blood to pay the price for our sins, we can all be covered with forgiveness and salvation if we’ll only call on him? Isn’t it good to know we can all be covered by his grace, covered with the hope he gives?

Yes, we can all be blanketed with the peace that can only be found in the Lord. And that’s something that weighs light. Something we’ll never want to dig out from under.

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” Psalm 32:1

*When have you felt blanketed by the peace of God?

*My photo from a previous winter.

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out earlier this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!