Let’s Give Ourselves a Time Out—For Gratitude!

Too often we wait until November, the month of thanks—or even the very end of the year—to focus on things we’re grateful for, but let’s take a time out to do it today.

After all, we should have thankful hearts all year long, right? Sometimes we let life blaze past us, forgetting to truly appreciate and express gratitude for the blessings in our lives. So let’s do our best from now on to continually cultivate thankful hearts—and we can start by being intentional about it today.

Since we’ve almost reached the midpoint of 2017, let’s each give some thought to the top ten things we’re most grateful for so far this year. Limiting it to this year will help us focus our thoughts on the most recent events in our lives rather than thinking of the general things that always come to mind when giving thanks.

Here’s my Top Ten Gratitude List thus far for 2017:

  1. I’m thankful for being able to trust God for the outcome of a big personal prayer concern as well as some work-related concerns. So grateful for the peace and rest I find in trusting him.
  2. I’m thankful for the times we’ve spent with our daughters, sons-in-law, and two sets of twin grandsons. So thankful for sweet baby smiles and little boy laughter, for snuggly cuddles and precious hugs. Thankful for trips to the zoo and for seeing baby milestones achieved.
  3. I’m thankful my dad, my sister Carolyn, and I got to go meet the newest member of our extended family—Jaxon, my niece Joanna’s baby and my sister Janice’s first grandbaby.
  4. I’m thankful for God’s Word and how he has used it to guide me and to strengthen and encourage me and how he’s allowed me to share it with others through my writing.
  5. I’m thankful to have reached one of my main author marketing goals for the year—participating in bridal fairs.  This has been a challenge because of high vendor fees, but God has led me to two so far on the lower end of the expense spectrum.
  6. I’m thankful for safe travel in all my trips to see our grandkids and also travel associated with my writing. For example, on one trip to Little Rock, I had three close calls on the interstate. I don’t take safe travel for granted.
  7. I’m thankful for the beautiful job Stephanie Wheatley of Wheatley Design did on the Wedding Inspiration cards I developed. Also very thankful for God’s leading in this project as well as my daughter Kristin’s help with various aspects of it.
  8. I’m thankful for good health for Don and me through cold and flu season. Also very thankful that God kept our grandbabies protected from the flu.
  9. I’m thankful for a quick getaway to Branson with Don in May. It had been over five years since we had been there. It was so good to enjoy Silver Dollar City once again—a place where my entire family has many great memories together.
  10. And finally, I’m thankful Don is carrying a lighter teaching load in summer school this summer. Since his Microbiology class is filled beyond capacity, he could never have kept up with all the extra work that causes plus teach Anatomy & Physiology the way he normally does as well.

So there’s my top ten—how about yours? I think you’ll find that when you get started, it will be hard to stop at ten!

“Come and see what God has done, the amazing things he has done for people.” Psalm 66:5 NCV

*What are you grateful for so far in 2017?

*Flickr photo by RnD.de.Portraits, Creative Commons License

15 Ways to Plant the Word of God in Our Lives

As believers, we need the Word of God firmly planted in our lives.

Scripture teaches that God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our paths (Psalm 119:105) and that it is a vital part of our spiritual armor in the fight against our enemy Satan and his forces of evil (Ephesians 6:17.) The Word is God-breathed and is useful in many ways, equipping us for good works (2 Timothy 3:16.) It is living and active and judges the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12.) No doubt about it, we need to be rooted and established in the Word of God.

Weaving the Word of God into the fabric of our lives may seem like a daunting task—after all, it IS a big book—but when we take things a step at a time and use a variety of methods, it is indeed possible. And remember, God will bless our efforts as we seek to grow closer to him and honor him with our lives.

Here are 15 ways to plant God’s Word in our hearts and minds:

  1. Read a passage of scripture every day, asking God to bless the reading of his Word.
  2. Be part of a Bible study group/small group on an ongoing basis. Study the Word.
  3. As you read the Word, underline words, phrases, and entire verses that really speak to you.
  4. Memorize scripture using a systematic plan for memorizing and reviewing. Use whatever plan and method works for you in your current stage of life.
  5. Find a translation you enjoy reading that has study notes/footnotes included.
  6. Incorporate scripture into your prayers. It’s a powerful way to pray and also reinforces the scripture in your mind.
  7. Sing the Word—either songs you create as you worship or praise songs you already know.
  8. Read books, magazines, and online content that include scripture.
  9. Listen to teaching from the Word.
  10. Read passages from the Word multiple times, emphasizing different words each time.
  11. Share what you’re learning from the Word with others in ordinary conversations,  Bible study groups, and blogs. Share scripture via social media.
  12. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring the Word to mind as you need it.
  13. Use the Word to battle Satan when he attacks or whispers lies to you.
  14. Apply what you’re learning from the Word to your life. Live the principles and wisdom you’re discovering.
  15. Become a teacher of the Word yourself in a Sunday School class or Bible study or through a writing or speaking ministry.

I hope we’ve each found something helpful here today as we seek to firmly plant God’s Word in our hearts and minds. I know God will honor our efforts and use his Word powerfully in our lives. May we bring him glory, honor, and praise!

They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.” Deuteronomy 32:47 NIV

*Which of these methods is most helpful to you in planting the Word in your life? What other ways come to mind?

*Flickr photo by Lel4nd, Creative Commons License

Fresh from God

17276672462_7b04d5b6fc_zSpring almost always motivates me to pen a new poem. Hope you’re blessed today with my latest!

Fresh from God

Spring bursts with life
fresh from God
tiptoeing in as winter retreats,
surprising with love gifts
wrapped in newness,
delighting our winter-worn hearts.
Spring’s colors splash,
look new, feel fresh,
her songs capture our attention
with the calls and melodies of birds
back from their southern sabbatical.
Ah, spring—so fresh from God.

More fresh-from-God gifts spring to mind
more love gifts wrapped in newness,
romance blooms, life partners given,
babies are born, tiny kisses from heaven,
two become three—or four or more—
new day, new year,
new strength, new plans,
new mercies every morning.
New life in Christ
new home in heaven,
the gifts of God, fresh from him,
ever fresh with life.
Ah life—so fresh from God.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NIV

*What fresh-from-God gift are you rejoicing in today?

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!

*Flickr photo by SteveRish, Creative Commons License

One Way to Pray Against Our Spiritual Enemy

2172772997_4d1ae0c7e1“‘A farmer went out to sow his seed . . . The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.’” Luke 8:5, 11-12 NIV (see also Matthew 13:19)

The enemy of our souls—that old serpent the devil—is a liar, a thief, and a con-artist who even at times masquerades as an angel of light. He employs whatever tactic it takes to defeat and discourage the children of God and to also keep unbelievers in darkness and chains.

This low-down thief can rob us of many things—peace, joy, our marriages and families, our good reputations and witness for the Lord, our time, our health, the list goes on. Scripture tells us he also snatches away the life-giving seed of God’s Word planted among those who do not yet understand and believe. Because of its eternal impact, this treachery is even more evil than stealing food from the starving.

One way we can fight for the souls of those who’ve had the Word planted in their lives is to pray against Satan’s tactic of snatching it away. This is not something I’ve been savvy to in the past and I need to be alert to future opportunities to do such battle in prayer.

Why not join me? Let’s take a mental inventory of those unbelievers we know who’ve recently had the Word planted in their lives.

Have we shared scripture or biblical truth with someone personally or through social media? Have we given financial gifts to help spread the good news among a particular group of people? Do we know of a mission team at work right now? Are we aware of any unbelievers who have recently sat in church and heard the Word preached? Have we heard prayer requests voiced for specific people who have been exposed to God’s Word lately?

Let’s pray against the enemy’s efforts to snatch the planted Word of God away from these precious people. Let’s ask God to place a hedge of protection around his planted Word so that the devil won’t steal the truth and hope of eternal life that it can bring. Let’s put up a fight. Let’s go to battle.

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.Ephesians 6:11 NIV

*Who can you pray for this week? If you’d like me and others to join you, please tell us in the comments.

*Flickr photo by W. Visser, Creative Commons License

A Prayer for Weary Mothers of the Bride

9916290543_ea73a1c8f7_zMother of the Bride, are you weary today, are you needing refreshment? Everything from troubleshooting wedding-planning problems to dealing with the regular stresses of life can leave you feeling depleted of all energy, emptied of all strength to continue.

If you need an infusion of strength and fresh energy, MOB, here is a prayer I posted on my inspirational blog last March. I pray it will give you the second wind you need to press on today. Be blessed and refreshed, dear MOB!

Father, this child of yours is weary. There’s no easy answer to her problems. She’s lost all strength to continue and will fall without your help. Help her, Lord, to lift her eyes and look to you—and then show her that you care. Bathe her in your light and love, reenergize her from your divine storehouse of strength. Send your angels to minister to her needs. And as she rises to press on, may your praise be on her lips, may you receive the glory. All this I ask in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

“‘I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.’” Jeremiah 31:25

*You might also like to read Spirit and Soul Refreshment for the Mother of the Bride, Time Management: Give Yourself a Break, MOB, Time Out for Laughter, and Mothers of the Bride Need Prayer.

*Flickr photo by Infomastern, Creative Commons License