Behind the Clouds the Sun Still Shines

One day when I stepped out my back door to enjoy an early morning drink of nature and to worship its Creator, a welcome sight caught my attention. I spotted a glimmer of light and hope for a brighter sky as the day progressed. I saw the sun shining behind the clouds.

On most dark and gloomy days, I don’t think of the sun at all, except for missing the light, the beauty, and the lifted spirits it brings to our world. On this day, however, the Lord parted the clouds at just the right moment and penetrated their melancholy presence with a reminder that no matter what the sky looks like from my vantage point, the sun still shines. The light is always there.

My thoughts soon went to friends and loved ones faced with dark and gloomy days of a different sort, far more serious than temporary cloud-covered skies. Several have been enduring life problems that hold no quick fix, and I wonder how long it’s been since they’ve spotted a glimmer of light and hope for brighter days. I wonder if they remember the sun is shining behind the clouds.

My prayers go up for them and others like them today—that even though all they may see right now are clouds of despair, disappointment, or discouragement, I pray the Lord will penetrate their darkness and allow them to see that he is there. I pray that they will be reminded that the Son always shines behind the clouds.

“…the LORD turns my darkness into light.” 2 Samuel 22:29 NIV

*How does the Lord make his presence known to you?

*The new 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.)

*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 Vince Alongi, Creative Commons License

*I pray that this revised encore post from Sept. 2009 blesses you today!

Sculpted Pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns for Fall Wedding Décor

Mother of the Bride, is your daughter planning a fall wedding? If so, the fall season opens up all kinds of possibilities for colors, décor, and food. She and her groom can add just a light touch of fall or go all out and let it permeate nearly every aspect of the wedding.

One classic fall decoration that can be incorporated into evening wedding celebrations is the simple jack-o-lantern or the more detailed sculpted pumpkin. They can feature the couple’s names as pictured above, the wedding date, the couple’s initials, wedding messages, portraits and scenes, or even traditional jack-o-lantern faces. Not only will jack-o-lanterns and sculpted pumpkins add a touch of fall to the festivities, but they’ll add an atmosphere of fun as well as provide some great photos.

These delightful, glowing pumpkins can grace the entrance of the venue, be used as centerpieces, or add a touch of fall to the guest book table, cake tables, and photo tables. In fact, they can be used just about anywhere. You could even line several up, creating a special message for the bride and groom or even for the guests (giving direction to a certain area, etc.)

Why not suggest sculpted pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns to your sweet autumn bride-to-be, MOB? Who knows, the newlyweds may decide to make pumpkin carving one of their new family fall traditions!

*You might also like to read Fall Wedding Bouquet Idea, Fall Wedding Favor Idea: Caramel Apples!, and Summer or Fall Wedding Favor Idea: Jars of Honey!

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

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. 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 Phil Gyford, 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

Guest Jeneal Rogers: From My Front Porch

jeneals-dawn-2

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!

Guest Blogger Jane M. Tucker: A Part of God’s Mosaic

Bowl Plaza mosaic*Today’s post is written by my friend Jane M. Tucker. She is the author of Lottie’s Gift.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1)

Hebrews chapter eleven describes many people who accomplished great things by faith in God. I have sometimes heard this chapter called the “Hall of Heroes,” or the “Faith Hall of Fame.” These titles conjure images of a museum where the portraits of Bible heroes like Abraham, Moses and Rahab hang on the walls. Gold name plates nailed to the picture frames tell who they were, and what they did.

The idea feeds my pride. Someday, I’ll be as great as they were. Someday, I’ll deserve to hang in that hall, too. It isn’t a healthy way to approach my faith walk.

Because the Hall of Fame idea is a trap for me, long ago God gave me a different visual: A mosaic, made of millions of different stones, each one reflecting His light with infinite beauty. In the Master’s hands I am a stone, tumbled to a high polish by time and trial, until I am fit to take my place among all the other precious and unique stones in His timeless design. The idea of a mosaic is reflected in Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (emphasis mine).

The mosaic image holds three advantages for me:

  • I measure myself rightly. I’m not so much a portrait, grandly set apart in a gallery for all to see. I’m a stone, precious to my maker, but not more so than His other precious stones.
  • I see myself in relationship with other believers. Our triune God is all about relationship. One lovely stone is admirable, but it gains even more beauty when placed with all the others to form a greater whole.
  • I remember that God wants everyone to join his family. A missing mosaic tile is instantly noticeable. God needs all his precious stones if his artwork is to be complete.

Now, let me be clear: The portrait painter and the mosaic artist are only metaphors for a God we cannot fully describe. Metaphors clothe the intangible with concrete images, but they are limited. Martin Luther called God a mighty fortress, and David called Him a rock, and those metaphors also have their limitations.

What metaphor for God speaks to you today?

When she’s not gallivanting around New York, Jane M. Tucker works and plays in Overland Park, Kansas, with her husband and three nearly grown kids. She writes about the people and places of the Midwest on her blog, Postcards from the Heartland. Jane’s novel, Lottie’s Gift, about an Iowa farm girl with a big gift for music and the sister she loves with all her heart, is available on Amazon.com and at CrossRiverMedia.

*Photo by Jane M. Tucker