God Walks With Us Through Life’s Surprises

8102465669_6712ae0022_zWonder what God has in store for you this year? You may have a general idea because of things already planned or in the works, but none of us can truly know how the details of our plans may play out. None can predict the twists and turns we’ll encounter along the way. And then, of course, things will come that will catch us by total surprise.

Last year in early January, I knew I was going to be a grandmother again, but God had a surprise of gigantic proportions up his divine sleeve.

By late in the month, we found out that our new grandbaby was in fact twins! And what made it even more amazing is that they would be our second set of twin grandbabies in just two years. That’s right, we went from no grandchildren to four grandchildren in the space of nineteen months. And they were all twins to boot! And not only that, but miracle babies in the face of infertility issues. What are the chances? A surprise only God could have ordained for sure.

We never know what God might have planned for us. My story is a perfect example. Just a little over two years ago, I would never have guessed the miraculous turn of events God had in store for our family.

Has my life changed as a result of these surprise events? You bet. I am indeed busier than ever, but I’m also experiencing more love and joy than I could have ever dreamed. And God’s with me each step of the way, rejoicing with me and giving me strength.

Of course, not all the surprises that come our way are good ones, are they? Three years ago last October, I got an unexpected call that changed my life forever. My mom had been in a car accident and just a few days later she died. And some of you—or some of your loved ones—may have at some point received an unwelcome diagnosis that left you reeling. Some may have found out that your teen daughter or son was going to be a parent. Others may have been received notice that you were no longer needed at your job. And the list goes on. Unwelcome surprises can come in many forms.

So even though we don’t know everything God has in store for us this year, one thing we can count on is that he will walk with us through each unexpected event, whether good or bad. None of it will catch him by surprise. He will be ready to rejoice with us when we rejoice and weep with us when we weep. As scripture promises, he will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)

With the promise of his constant companionship in mind, let’s look forward to the good surprises headed our way and not worry about the possibility of bad ones. God’s got our backs whatever comes.

“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14a NIV

*What surprises has life held for you in recent days or years?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a Starbucks gift card and a signed copy of my book to use personally, to give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by nixter, Creative Commons License

Christmas Poem 2016: A Christmas Letter to God

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*Holiday blogging break details at end of post.

Believe it or not, friends, I’ve been writing an annual Christmas poem for thirty-four years now. That’s a long time by anybody’s standards, isn’t it?

Sometimes I wonder how I’ll be able to come up with an idea for yet another Christmas poem, but I really shouldn’t worry. God is always faithful to give me the seed of an idea and then guide me as I write, helping me to find just the right words or turns of phrase. Yes, it usually takes a lot of trial and error to get there, but God is faithful to help me birth the finished project.

All of our abilities come from him, don’t they? I’m so grateful he’s given me the privilege of touching people’s hearts and lives through the written word. May you be blessed by this year’s poem, my friends!

A Christmas Letter to God

Dear Lord, Christmas finds us sending greetings
To loved ones far and near,
Cards and letters filled with love
And wishes for the coming year.

This year I long to send this letter
Overflowing with thanks and love
To you, my God, my Lord, my Savior,
My King and Counselor from above.

My message this Christmas is simple, Lord,
As I think of you coming to earth,
Coming to live among us,
Bringing new life, giving new birth.

My heart and my pen cry out today,
“Thank you, Father, for sending,
Thank you, Jesus, for coming,
Thank you, Spirit, for staying!”

With love,
Cheryl, 2016

“‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” Matthew 1:23 NIV

*What’s one thing you’d want to tell God if you wrote him a Christmas letter?

*I’ll be taking a blogging break until after the first of the year while everyone is busy preparing for and celebrating Christmas. May you enjoy sweet times with loved ones and have a truly blessed celebration of our Savior’s birth, my friends. See you in 2017!

*Flickr photo by E V Peters, Creative Commons License

A Mother of the Bride’s Thanksgiving Prayer

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May this Mother of the Bride’s Prayer of Thanksgiving help you express to God what’s in your heart this year, dear MOB!

Dear Lord,

My heart is filled with thanksgiving this year as I help my precious daughter prepare for her wedding. These are once-in-a-lifetime days, and I’m so grateful to be sharing such an exciting journey with her. Thank you, Lord, for granting us this amazing time together.

Father, as I see my sweet girl take on this new role of bride-to-be and soon-to-be wife, my heart swells afresh with love for her. Not only has she grown into a beautiful woman, she has become a funny, smart, kind, and loving person. I am so very proud of her and I thank you, Lord, for allowing me the great privilege of being her mom.

And how can I ever thank you for bringing such a fine young man into her life to be the love of her life and share the rest of her days with her? I pray that you’ll draw them even closer to one another in these months preceding their wedding. Help them form a bond that nothing will ever break, and help them to always look to you and desire to honor you in their marriage and in all that they do.

Lord, help me to be a mother of the bride who is truly helpful and encouraging in every way. Help me to be the support that my daughter needs now and help me to develop a sweet and loving relationship with my soon-to-be son-in-law. I pray I will be a mother they can always count on and a friend who will walk with them through whatever the future may hold. Help me to be a blessing to them, Lord!

Yes, Lord, my heart is filled with thanksgiving this year. How I thank and praise you!

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3

*You might also like to read Spirit and Soul Refreshment for the Mother of the Bride. And from my home page, you might like A Prayer for Couples You Know.

*Since the readership of this blog is ever-changing, I hope this encore post from November 2014 is a real blessing to you today, MOB!

*Also note I won’t be posting next week during the holiday week but will see you back here on the 29th. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

*It’s not too late to receive the current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter. I offer a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue so don’t miss out. Sign-up is free on the right sidebar!

*Flickr photo by JFXie, Creative Commons License

Live the Moments

8479559443_6ab58e2e01_zIf you’re like me at times, you may be rushing through life at such a frenetic pace that you miss some of the treasures along the way. Sometimes I need to slow down so I don’t whiz by the moments of my life, and other times I just need to be more aware of them, more deliberate in experiencing them.

I love what author and minister Frederick Buechner has to say about being more mindful of the moments of our lives in his book Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation. See if they strike a chord with you as they did with me:

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because, in the last analysis, all moments are key moments and life itself is grace.”

I wonder what key moments I’ve missed because I wasn’t listening to my life. Do you, like me, need to listen to your life more? Need to remember that each day is a gift of grace? Let’s notice more of our lives from now on, let’s live the moments.

“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 NKJV

*When has an ordinary moment turned into more for you?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter comes out tomorrow. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by JGSpotOn, Creative Commons License

Guest Jeneal Rogers: From My Front Porch

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Today I’m happy to share a beautiful piece written by my dear friend Jeneal Rogers. Sit back, relax with Jeneal on her front porch, and let her words usher in peace and beauty. Let them transport you to the thin edge of dawn.

From My Front Porch

It’s the thin edge of dawn. I sit in the rocking chair, on my front porch. Crickets and tree frogs still harmonize. A squirrel scolds emphatically. I wonder. Is it her children she so passionately lectures? Or has her mate somehow unwittingly incurred her wrath?

I watch a spider scurry up the post in front of me. Hurried. Intent. Eager, perhaps, to begin her morning weaving.

Birds start to tune up for today’s concert.
Coos, chirps, and twitters.
Tweets, whistles, and caws.
The rapid percussion of a woodpecker, searching for his breakfast.
An arrogant cardinal warms his voice, “pretty, pretty, pretty bird.”
I listen for the satiny call of the owl, asking his perpetual question. “Who? Who? Who cooks for you?”

Leaves, twigs, and acorns fall from the huge oak.
Plunk
Pop
Tap
Announcing Autumn’s arrival as surely as the air of chilled fog.

How blessed I am. My weekend filled with warm love and laughter.
Friends sharing
Meals
Stories
Hopes
Dreams
Pieces of their lives, graciously offered
Gratefully received.

A beautiful gift, wrapped up and adorned with this sweet symphony of nature, received on my front porch, this early morning, at the thin edge of dawn.

Writer and visual artist Jeneal Rogers of southeast Missouri enjoys writing essays, short stories, and poetry along with creating visual arts of all kinds. An illustrator for Armonia Publishing, Jeneal is currently working on creating an illustrated book, New Wings For An Old Bird, which will combine her love of written and visual media. Jeneal invites you to keep your eye out for the book.

*Photo above by Jeneal Rogers

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One current or new subscriber will win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble so don’t miss out. Sign-up is free and to the right!