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

Church in My Backyard

DSC03385*I won’t be posting next week during Spring Break, but I’ll see you back here on March 28!

I’m not the most observant person in the world. Case in point: We helped move our daughter and son-in-law to a townhome in a new city one November several years ago, visited them on the following New Year’s weekend, and then again over the following spring break, but it wasn’t until the trip after that that I noticed they had a church in their backyard—or side yard to be exact. The point is it’s right there.

Imagine my delight when I looked out the upstairs bedroom window early one morning before anyone else was stirring and saw a church tucked behind the stand of trees lining their development. Wow, I thought. They’ve got a church right in their backyard! I could feel a blog post coming on so I grabbed my camera and started snapping away.

Even though Kristin and Shawn didn’t end up attending this particular church, I was still excited to think they had a church—such a visible reminder of God—standing tall and strong so close to their home. A picture of God, if you will, living in their midst, watching over them, inspiring worship and peace for any who would open their eyes and see (the way I finally did!)

Believe it or not, I have a church in my backyard, too. No, it’s not a building made of stone and brick. It’s simply my yard. But it’s filled with visible reminders of God. The trees, the grass, the birds, the breeze all point to him and remind me that he’s living in my midst. He’s watching over me, and yes, inspiring worship and peace when I take the time to lift my eyes and turn my thoughts toward him.

Amazing, huh? I can’t help but proclaim, “Wow—I’ve got a church in my backyard!” How about you?

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song…” Psalm 98:4

*Where are some places, other than church, where you’re inspired to worship?

*Hope this slightly revised and updated encore post from March 2010 blessed you today!

*My photo

Winter Wedding Cake Idea: Snowflakes!

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Mother of the Bride, is your daughter planning a winter wedding? If so, you may just now be discussing some of the details that can come a little later in the wedding planning process. Things like wedding favors, send-off options, and possibly even the design of the wedding cake.

If your darling girl hasn’t already decided on her cake’s design, here’s an option to show her—snowflakes! The cake above (or something similar) would be especially perfect if she’s incorporating winter touches in other aspects of the wedding, too. The cake offers a great opportunity to highlight a theme if she so chooses.

The dark background in the cake above really helps set off the snowflakes, but I bet extra sparkly snowflakes or silver snowflakes could look gorgeous as well if your daughter prefers a more traditional white cake. Your cake baker may be able to provide the snowflakes, but if he or she asks you to do that, you should be able to find them at most craft, party, or discount stores.

So MOB, if your baby is planning a “baby, it’s cold outside” kind of wedding, share this cool (hee, hee) idea with her. A snowflake cake can be the crowning touch!

*You might also like to read Favor Help for Winter Weddings and Wedding Favors That Grow: Tree Seedlings.

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out next week. One lucky subscriber, current or new, will win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by Eldriva, 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!

The Trickster

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No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That’s a picture of a shirt hanging in a garden. My dad’s shirt in his garden in Missouri a few years ago, in fact. I actually took this shot on a July visit, but as long as anything was left growing in the garden through early fall, the shirt stood guard.

Back then we never knew what project Dad might be at work on or what problem he might be solving when we arrived for a visit. Kelli will never forget the year she and I pulled in the drive and caught Grandpa on the tail-end of a squirrel skinning. He was stretching the hide on some kind of contraption out by the wood pile. The shirt in the garden is tame by comparison but still a sight that made me take a second look and start asking questions.

As some of you may have already guessed, this was Dad’s version of a scarecrow. He’d been trying to trick some pesky garden-eating deer into thinking someone was standing there—and it worked.

Not just the sight of a potential enemy kept the deer away, but the scent as well. I didn’t realize scent was part of Dad’s scheme until I heard one of the grandkids announce one morning, “Grandpa’s stripping down outside!” Come to find out, it was just his shirt (thank goodness!) He was replacing the one that had been hanging in the garden for a few days with the sweaty one he had been working in. Tricky, tricky Grandpa. The result? My dad outwitted the deer.

Too bad deer aren’t the only ones susceptible to trickery. The Bible teaches we have an enemy, an enemy to our souls, who is doing all he can to scheme against us—to keep us from knowing God, to keep us from living for him. Ephesians 6:11 speaks specifically of the devil’s schemes, and 1 Peter 5:8 instructs us to stay alert because “[our] enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Sometimes he’s hard to recognize, though. The apostle Paul taught that “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

Are we wise to Satan’s schemes in our lives? Or is he managing to outwit us with his tricks and his masquerades? Like my dad, let’s put our problem-solving skills to work and outwit the enemy instead.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13

*What are you doing to stay alert to the tactics of the enemy? How do you take your stand against him? What has God taught you about dealing with Satan?

*Hope you were blessed today by this updated encore post from October 2008!

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out in early November. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*My photo