A Still Heart: Guest Post by Author Julie K. Gillies

Our minds can easily slip into overdrive when we evaluate all the what-ifs, attempting to figure out every detail and obsessively calculating our next step. It’s a temptation we face when we feel deeply concerned about a direction our life is going, or when we aren’t happy with a situation we’re facing. Some of us are wired this way; we’re natural over thinkers. Some of us indulge when we’re feeling unusually apprehensive. Either way, this excessive mental activity takes a toll, feeding our worries and stirring up anxieties until our peace evaporates completely.

In the midst of this, God invites us to make a decision that goes against our instincts. When everything in us is whirling and calculating, He encourages us to be still, to step away from every worry and all our mental activity and know Him. Be with Him. Rest in Him. It’s a bold step, but not as risky as it may seem, because “the Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” (Psalm 145:8).

Our hearts can truly rest in Him knowing He is at work so our minds don’t constantly have to be. Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.” When we still our hearts and minds, meditating on who He is and all His awe-inspiring qualities, our inner beings experience the relief of a quiet, peaceful heart.

“Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10)

Lord, I’m sensing that I need to stop all my mental activity: worry, anxiety, fear, all the what-if’s, and just be still. God, everything in me wants to work it out or else stress out, but instead I am going to still my heart and my thoughts. I am going to allow myself to be in Your presence and rest in You, knowing You are gracious and compassionate. Knowing that You will work out Your plans for my life. Help me to center my heart and my thoughts and my very life on You. Help me to live vitally connected to You and still on the inside, so that I can always hear You and walk in the power of Your amazing peace. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen.

Excerpted from Prayers to Calm Your Anxious Heart: 100 Reassuring Devotions, Harvest House Publishers. Used with permission.

 

 

Julie K. Gillies is the author of Prayers to Calm Your Anxious Heart: 100 Reassuring Devotions, From Hot Mess to Blessed, and the devotional Prayers for a Woman’s Soul. She is the joyful wife of Keith, mom of three adults and Grammy of five. She loves baking from scratch, any day without humidity, and hanging out with the entire family, especially on days when her house is clean. For FREE resources and to connect with Julie, visit: www.JulieGillies.com

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

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Change Your Outlook: Focus on Pros Instead of Cons

Have you noticed how almost every situation or circumstance in life contains both pros and cons? Sometimes when we’re battling with the cons, it can be difficult to see the pros, but it’s always possible if we try. If nothing else, we can see how the negative situation can help us grow in some way—patience, perseverance, forgiveness, trust in God, etc.

I had to put this principle to work several years ago concerning our neighborhood. If I wasn’t careful, I let a couple of cons—and I don’t mean crooks, I mean negative things—really get on my nerves and suck the joy out living where we do. And it was nothing horrific—just a lack of consideration.

So to keep the negative thinking at bay, I tried to remember the positive things—the pros. When I stepped outside at the right time in the morning, I could hear church bells calling children to school. And nothing says “fall” like being able to hear the high school marching band practicing a few blocks away. We also had some nice neighbors (and still do) and were in a convenient location for the most part. As I looked at the pros, I was reminded how good we actually have it in our neighborhood.

Are you faced with a situation where it might be helpful to balance the cons out with the pros? A situation where some time spent looking at the positive might change your outlook? I’ll fess up to another. I have an ongoing struggle with my attitude concerning our community and all the things it doesn’t have to offer. Maybe I need to make a trusty list and look at the pros, huh?

“. . . if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV

*When has focusing on the positive helped change your outlook and attitude?

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

*Flickr photo by Wiertz SebastienCreative Commons License

Wedding Photography: Candid Shots of the Guests

Wedding photography is not complete, Mother of the Bride, without some great candid shots of the guests. All brides, grooms, and their families want to remember who joined their wedding day celebration. Asking the photographer to capture photos of the guests as they naturally interact with one another is the perfect way to do it.

The photo above is a super sweet shot of Rob and Kaden, our neice’s husband and son (now a recent high school graduate!), and the one below shows a loving moment between our nephew Aaron and his wife Monica. It’s one of my favorite candid shots from our daughter Kristin’s wedding. As Monica places her hand on the back of Aaron’s neck, he reaches out to touch her as well, wrapping his hand around the back of her leg. I love how the photographer spotted this moment of mutual love expressed and immortalized it for us.

So, MOB, in addition to all the standard photos the photographer will be taking, ask him or her to capture lots of candid shots of your guests as well. Hugs, laughter, surprise, and special moments of all kinds will abound that day. Try to make them a permanent part of your daughter’s wedding day story.

*You might also like to read Wedding Day: Sweet Family Moments in Store and Wedding Day Tip: A List For the Photographer .

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*The current 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! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Photos by Chris Humphrey Photographer

“Love” Acrostic: 2020 Theme Word Refresher

Over half the year is gone so it’s past time to give more thought to my 2020 theme word loveFor me, the creative exercise of writing acrostics is an excellent way to go deeper in my consideration of my theme words each year. Doing so helps me think of different aspects of the word.

As I remind myself of and reflect on love, I pray you are blessed and inspired to grow in love as well. And not only that, but if you chose a theme word of your own this year, maybe reading this post today will inspire you to do something similar with your word. Whatever the case, friends, may you be blessed as you read!

Leap to answer God’s call, listen for his voice, learn what pleases him, and let your mouth ever praise and worship him.

Open your arms and heart to one and all, offer forgiveness freely, observe the needs of others, and outdo yourself in kindness and giving.

View yourself and others through the lens of grace, voice your affection to God and loved ones often, vow to say no to selfishness daily, and visit those who need the comfort of your presence.

Enjoy time with the Lord each day, enter lives of others as God opens doors, eliminate gossip and critical words from your conversation, and encourage others at every opportunity.

Join me, won’t you, in living a life of love? Others will be blessed and so will we!

“. . . walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:2 NIV

*What is God saying to you about love today?

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out yesterday. 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 johnsdigitaldreams.com, Creative Commons License

Guest Blogger Elece Hollis: Mother of the Bride Blues

When my daughter Rachel announced she was planning her wedding for August, I knew immediately that I was in big trouble, where in the world would I find a mother-of-the-bride maternity dress? One glance at the garments displayed in the woman-with-child department of the nearest clothing store was all I needed to convince me of the futility of my search. They just don’t make ‘em, you know?

Still, I had to find something suitable. I was forty-three and would turn forty-four before the baby arrived in November. I’d be six months along by the wedding day—no way could I hide the embarrassing, yet wonderful, fact that the beautiful dark-haired bride was expecting a new baby sister.

Pregnancies are supposed to happen to younger women. By my age I was supposed to know better. No maternity wear is designed for “mature” women. I had to try—so off I went shopping.

I started at a formal and tux shop. The saleslady showed me a short black dress with a fitted bodice tied with a leopard print sash—no—just not me. She showed me a pale yellow t-strap satin with sequins ornamenting the waist and neckline. I tried it on. The full skirt swirled around my legs. Looking back at me from the mirror was a startled moose with jaundice.

How about a fire engine red, knee length gown with huge white zigzags running this way and that? Nah—I’d look like a distraught candy cane on steroids. I also passed up a pea green dress with a fitted camouflage-print jacket, rhinestones, and matching clutch purse.

Pink chiffon with loads of ruffled lace and a huge satin bow that hung down over the belly? Ugh! No way! Talk about a fashion victim.

Plans for the wedding proceeded nicely. Invitations were mailed. Cakes were ordered from a local bakery for the reception. Rachel was so excited—so happy.

We had a rice bag party and tied red velveteen ribbons on two hundred rice bags. We ordered flowers for the church, boutonnières for ushers, candle lighters, and groomsmen, and corsages for the pianist and servers. And one for Mama—Big Mama, who still had no dress to pin it to.

I checked out my closet to see what might do if worse came to worse. Way in the back was a deep rose-colored maternity dress with a white collar I had bought to wear during my last pregnancy—a mother-of-the-graduate maternity dress. (Yeah, you read that right.) It was only three years old. Maybe it could be resurrected. But, when I laid it out, I saw the large round oily stain on the backside.

One tired mom, six-months along, at the graduation celebration, I had plopped my caboose down in the nearest chair and felt the splat as I landed on a plate of cake with yummy white frosting with dark blue lettering.

“Oh, no, Mama,” squealed my ten-year-old son, “You sat on my cake!”

“I realize that,” I answered, (rather calmly considering), “and I am not getting up until all these people leave!”  The stain had never come out. Why had I saved the dress anyway? Good grief!

On a trip to the mall to find some of that white frou-frou sheer net material to swag the tables in the reception hall, I noticed across from the fabric store, a small maternity shop—named Motherhood. Motherhood—that was me—double dosing it! I went across to look around inside. You never know, and things were getting desperate.

There I found it at last—a robin egg blue ankle length maternity dress, with short sleeves and a scooped lace-trimmed bodice. It was not one of the wedding theme colors, but wouldn’t clash. It wasn’t fancy, but it fit. It would do. I bought it.

I felt conspicuous being escorted down the aisle that August to my seat of honor at the front of the sanctuary. I’m certain some of the guests were duly horrified, but what did I care? Don’t all moms feel awkward and strange at their daughter’s weddings, like they’d stepped out of a time machine into another world? Don’t they all feel self-conscious and fat and a little old? Well, this day certainly wasn’t about me anyway.

As I watched my girl come in on her Daddy’s arm, and listened as she and her groom exchanged their marriage vows, I think I felt little Sis’s firm kick of approval. I smoothed my mother-of-the-bride blue skirt and patted my blessing.

*You might also like to read Parting Thoughts of the Mother of the Bride.

Elece Hollis is a grandma to twenty-five children. She and Ron live in Oklahoma where they tend an orchard of pecans and a small herd of Angus. Elece is an artist and a photographer and loves flowers, baking, and painting. Read her blog about country living at elecehollis.com.

 

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

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out yesterday. 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.)

*Flickr photo by alicia.piper, Creative Commons License