The Sounds of Spring: Sounds of Life

Early in the mornings, when I stick my head out the door or step outside for a few seconds to take in the beauty of the day, the sounds that greet me often capture my attention first. And right now, it’s the sounds of spring that fill the neighborhood. Yes, the sounds of life are once again in full voice.

These lively spring mornings stand in stark contrast to the silence that met my ears this winter during my early morning checks of the day. The sounds of nature seemed to freeze right along with the icicles hanging from the eaves of our home. Even God’s creatures knew when to hole up and snuggle in rather than venture out into the bitter cold.

But now the world has come to life again. Spring has turned up the volume, and I for one am loving the concert it gives each day.

The sound of birds may be my favorite. With their various melodies and calls, they soothe my soul or sometimes surprise me with sounds of a brawl. At other times, I’ll hear squirrels chattering or the steady background noise of a spring shower, and occasionally thunder will announce a coming storm. On other days, the sound of the wind tries to drown out things of lesser notice. And, of course, we humans add to the symphony with our excited proclamations of spring’s arrival and our too-early-in-the-season lawn mowing escapades.

Yes, winter is past. Spring is here. Life has begun anew. What a perfect accompaniment it was to our celebration of the Easter season. May our voices of praise to our Creator and Redeemer add to the sounds of spring, add to the sounds of life!

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad . . .  let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them . . . ” Psalm 96:11-12 NIV

*What’s your favorite sound of spring?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Amazon 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! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

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

*Flickr photo by timsackton, Creative Commons License

Radical Faith Prepares for Answered Prayer

“And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.” Philemon 1:22 NIV

Radical faith. The apostle Paul demonstrated it on numerous occasions, didn’t he? When he wrote the words above to fellow believer Philemon, he wrote them from prison—a place he frequented because of his bold displays of faith.

Being imprisoned didn’t dampen Paul’s faith as we might imagine. In fact, he made plans to visit Philemon based on his hopes of answered prayers. He encouraged Philemon to act in faith as well. Paul exhorted him to prepare a room for him—to behave as if the answer to prayer had already been granted.

And when Paul told the Corinthians to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7), he not only doled out instruction, he lived it himself. His instruction to Philemon shines as just one example.

What kind of faith are you and I demonstrating in our lives today? Could someone point to us and say, “Look at how she lives by faith. Look at how she trusts God.”

Are we like Paul? Are we living in the hope of answered prayer? Let’s think about what we can do right now to live in expectation and to prepare for the answers that God will send. Let’s show some radical faith.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 NET

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. 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 and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by familymwrCreative Commons License

Let Your Life Provide a Well-Paved Path for Others

Pain. Grief. Weakness. Limitations. None of us welcome these unwanted visitors—especially when they take up long-term residence in our lives. Each one causes distress in its own way. And let’s be honest. We all do our best to avoid distress whenever possible.

We don’t like to hurt. We don’t like to fail or find ourselves unable to do certain things. But as we live in these places of pain, we grow and learn lessons. We develop a deep empathy for others experiencing similar sorrows. Each of our painful places has the potential to become a well-paved path to another hurting soul.

In the New Testament, we see that the apostle Paul experienced pain, hardship, and limitations time and again. And while we may feel the chains of weakness and limitations in our lives, Paul dealt with literal chains during the times he was imprisoned for the sake of the gospel.

He didn’t give in to discouragement during those imprisonments though. While shackled and suffering, Paul saw the good that came from his chains. In his letter to the Philippians (1:14 NIV), he said, “And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”

Surely our chains of pain, grief, weakness, or limitations serve to encourage others as well. Other struggling folks might very well be inspired to persevere through their own trials as they see how God strengthens us in ours.

Whether reaching out to hurting souls going through similar situations as our own or being a beacon of hope and encouragement through the witness of our lives, let’s allow our painful places to result in good. Let’s let our lives be well-paved paths.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV

*When did someone provide a well-paved path for you? Our family is currently undergoing a trial that will certainly allow us to encourage and comfort others in the future. Our daughter Kelli is having surgery for breast cancer today. We’d be so grateful for your prayers. 

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out Feb. 2nd. 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 and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo

God Gets in the Boat With Us

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

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 let’s not 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 NIV

*Our daughter Kelli was diagnosed with breast cancer recently and God has definitely gotten in the boat with all of us. When has God gotten in the boat with you?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out today. 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 and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

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

Theme Word 2021: Serve

Yes, Virginia, I still select an annual theme word. I know I’m a little late posting it this year, but instead of kicking off the year earlier in January with my theme word post, I decided to share a blessing post. I thought that was more appropriate given the fact we as a nation—and a world—have never been so glad to see a new year arrive. If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you’ll take a minute to give it a quick read. I think it will indeed bless you!

But yes, for me, starting a new year means it’s time to focus on a new theme word. This is the 10th year I’ve chosen a special word for the year. I’ve never been big into New Year’s resolutions but instead I decide on a theme word to help guide me through the year. It’s a practice I highly recommend. I can honestly say it has benefited me time and again.

Serve was the word the Lord kept bringing to my attention near the end of last year so serve it is for 2021. I never know what all the Lord has in mind when guiding me to a new word, but I do think he wants me to continue to serve and bless others through the written word. Also I’m filling a new role this year as I serve as the chaplain for my writers group. I wonder what else God has in store? I guess I’ll find out as the year unfolds!

If you haven’t done so yet, why not choose a theme word for 2021? I can guarantee that having an over-arching word—a quality, an attitude, or an action—to focus on will help give you direction and help you grow throughout the year. And that is always a good thing, isn’t it?

But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” 1 Samuel 12:24 NIV

*Do you have a theme word or anchor verse for 2021? Please share!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks 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! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) p.s. If you sign up after Jan. 29th, you will be included in all future Life Notes giveaways but not in this current giveaway.

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

*Photo by Austin Kehmeier on Unsplash