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

Powerful Way to Pray for Those in Ongoing Difficulty

Most of us know someone who deals daily with an ongoing serious difficulty of some sort. Maybe we know someone with a chronic illness or problem with pain or someone in a caregiving situation. We may know someone trapped in an abusive relationship or someone whose job places them in the midst of crisis situations every day.

Whatever the particulars, our friends or loved ones enduring such stress likely feel overwhelmed and beyond discouraged much of the time. If we’ve ever experienced such a season ourselves, we understand how a person can come to the end of his or her physical, mental, and/or emotional reserves and wonder how they can possibly go on.

As their friends and loved ones, we feel helpless to fix the problem, but one way we can always help is to pray. And one powerful way to pray is to pray through the Psalms for them—slowly but surely.

If you’re like me, you’ve prayed the Psalms for yourself at one time or another, but we can also perform this wonderful ministry for those who desperately need to be upheld by our prayers. And if we pray just a few verses or portion of a chapter for them each day, our prayers will be long-term, just like the trial they are enduring.

We can simply start at the beginning of Psalms and read and pray through the verses with our friends or loved ones in mind, personalizing our prayers by using their names and the specifics of whatever their ongoing difficulty. Not every psalm will be completely applicable to suffering or difficulty, but let’s pray those scriptures for them as well. After all, each scripture prayed for those who are hurting will help strengthen them in some way.

Here’s an example from Psalm 3:1-4 NIV.  I’ll list the verses first and then personalize them in prayer for a loved one (using a fictitious name.)

“Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
‘God will not deliver him.’

But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.”

Prayer: Oh Lord, how many are Katie’s health problems. How many conditions rise up against her! These health issues seem to taunt her, saying “God will not deliver you.” But you, O Lord, be a shield about Katie, be her glory, the One who lifts up her head. Help her to call out to you and see you answer from your holy mountain.”

Let’s pray the Psalms for our hurting friends. Let’s hold them up with the powerful Word of God.

*Has God brought someone you know to mind? I have been praying the Psalms for a loved one for a few months now and will continue as God leads.

*Flickr photo by shaunanyi, Creative Commons License

Wedding Planning Help Plus a Blogging Break

Mother of the Bride, I’m not even planning a wedding and May is still so crazy busy for me that I’m going to take a blogging break the last half of this month. I’ll return with regular weekly posts on June 6th, but in the meantime I’ll leave with you some wedding planning help.

I hope you find these resources helpful over the next couple of weeks. Have fun looking through everything—and don’t forget to share the links (or all your favorite finds!) with your daughter!

Helpful Links for Wedding Planning

*If your daughter is in the beginning stages of gathering ideas and investigating her options, try Martha Stewart Weddings, Real Simple Weddings, and Brides.

*If your daughter wants a rustic wedding, check out Rustic Wedding Chic.

*If you want a unique and fun gift idea for the bride or bridesmaids, take a look at Along Came a Box

*If you’re ready to look for your MOB dress, check out my Mother of the Bride Dresses Pinterest board and also my post Where to Find Your Mother of the Bride Dress.

*Need wedding cake ideas or ideas for the groom’s cake? Try my Wedding Cakes Pinterest board and my Groom’s Cake board

*If you want to share a round-up of Bridal Registry options, see my Wedding Registry Roundup post

*If you’d like to see all nineteen of my wedding related Pinterest boards, check out my Pinterest profile page

This should keep you busy while I’m on blogging break, huh? Have fun!

The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out early this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by Silvia Sala, Creative Commons License

Spirit and Soul Refreshment for Busy Lives

Is your schedule full to overflowing? Your to-do list never caught up? I’m willing to bet most of us will have to answer one or both of those questions with a resounding yes.

Some of us even find ourselves in busier-than-normal busy seasons—busy on top of busy—due to current life situations. And I bet the month of May will increase our busy levels even more. For many of us, May ranks second only to December as the busiest month of the year.

If you are feeling pressed today, allow me to serve you up some spirit and soul refreshment straight from the Word of God. Most of us have our go-to methods of stress relief, but if drinking from God’s Word isn’t on our lists, we need to add it pronto. Nothing can give the deep spirit and soul refreshment quite like the Word of God.

So my friends, come apart to a peaceful oasis and allow me to share some passages with you today that I pray will be just the balm your weary souls may need. From God and me with love—may you be encouraged and refreshed!

“‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’” Matthew 11:28-30

“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake . . . You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:1-3, 5b-6

“‘Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.’” Deuteronomy 33:12

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

*Which of these passages encourages you most today? Do you have another passage you’d like to share?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes out today. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*My photo (taken in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park)

Wedding Cake Roundup

the wedding cake by Emmaline

Mother of the Bride, if your darling daughter-turned-bride is ready to decide on what kind of wedding cake she’d like, then this post is for you. Counting today’s, I’ve featured twenty design ideas for wedding cakes here on my blog since I started it nearly four years ago so I thought it was high time to do a round-up post of all the various ideas.

But before I share the round-up list, allow me to point out the photo above featuring my daughter Kristin’s cake. The top was completely covered in fresh flowers while fresh flowers provided accents on the other layers as well. The fresh flower petals rimming the bottom layer and scattered on the tablecloth added the exquisite finishing touch to the overall floral look. It was absolutely beautiful and oh so tasty.

Now for the roundup—here are the links to the cake designs I’ve featured thus far:

Wedding Cake Idea: The Drape Effect

Scattered Pearls Wedding Cake

Wedding Cake Trend: Ruffles!

Wedding Cake Idea: Coconut Cloud

Wedding Cake Idea: Beautiful Brooch Accents!

A Berry Beautiful Wedding Cake

Traditional Wedding Cake Twist: The Naked Cake

Winter Wedding Cake Idea: Snowflakes!

Cake Idea for the Rustic Wedding

Unique Wedding Cake Idea: Word Search Cake!

Wedding Cake Design: Graduating Circles

Wedding Cake Idea: Swiss Dots

Wedding Cake Idea: The Textured Cake

Sash and Brooch Multilayer Wedding Cake

Wedding Cake Trend: Multiple Mini Cakes

Back from Break with a Monogrammed Wedding Cake!

Wedding Cake Idea: The Single Layer Cake!

New Wedding Cake Trend: The Ombre Cake

So there you have it, MOB—be sure to share with your daughter! She might just find a design idea that she wants to use or at least incorporate into her final choice. What a fun part of wedding planning, huh? Enjoy yourselves when it comes time to taste-test!

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a gift valued at $20 (shipping included) from Beigetone Soaps 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!

*Photo by Chris Humphrey Photography