God Gets in the Boat With Us

“Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.” Mark 6:51 NIV

Are you familiar with the boat story that took place after Jesus fed the crowd of five thousand?

When everyone had had their fill, Jesus told his disciples to get into a boat and go on ahead of him so he could have a private time of prayer. Later on that evening when the boat was in the middle of the lake, Jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars because it was so windy. He decided to walk out on the water to them. When they saw him, they were terrified. They thought he was a ghost. So he identified himself at once, told them not to be afraid, and then climbed into the boat with them. The wind died down—and I imagine the disciples’ fears did too.

Just as the disciples had a Savior who came to them and climbed into their boatload of fear and struggle, we too have a God who gets in the boat with us. He comes to our aid when the winds of life are beating us down. He enters our lives and our pain. He gets right in the middle of our trials and struggles and brings peace. So let’s not be afraid. We have a God who gets in the boat.

“. . . do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV

*Our daughter Kelli was diagnosed with breast cancer recently and God has definitely gotten in the boat with all of us. When has God gotten in the boat with you?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out today. 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 Richard Clark (Digimist)Creative Commons License

The Constant of Christmas Plus A Blogging Break

The holiday season can be a difficult time for many. Heartaches hurt more, burdens feel heavier, and changes can be more challenging to accept. Loneliness looms larger and disappointment runs deeper. At times, Christmas joy can be hard to find. And of course, this year we have the added challenge of the ongoing pandemic impacting our lives—and our joy—as well.

Where do you find your Christmas joy? If you search for it in people—family and friends—those can change or disappoint. If in new possessions or extravagant treats, those can be stripped away or give only short-term fulfillment. If in well-laid plans for the perfect Christmas, a winter storm or unexpected illness can topple those in an instant.

Only in the manger can we find unchanging, unfailing Christmas joy. Sure, we can and do experience holiday joy with our families and friends, with our activities and traditions, with music and feasting. But the deep abiding joy of Christmas—and of our lives—that no circumstance or human failing can touch can only be found in the constant of Christmas. Only in Jesus.

Let’s look to the manger this holiday season. Let’s let Jesus anchor our Christmas joy. For he is a rock like no other. He is the constant of Christmas.

“‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” Matthew 28:20 NIV

*What is most challenging about your Christmas season this year? How can you let Jesus bring you joy in the midst of it?

*Friends, I’ll be taking a blogging break until the first of the year. I pray that God will bless you with a joy-filled Christmas season and a hopeful and happy New Year. See you in 2021!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early February. 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 jeffweeseCreative Commons License

God’s Unchanging Word: A Cause for Thanksgiving

“Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” Psalm 119:89 NIV

Our lives can change in a flash. Ask those who’ve contracted a serious case of COVID or lost a loved one to its fury. Or ask those who’ve lost their jobs in the multitude of lay-offs this year or who’ve been told they’re no longer loved or wanted in their marriages. Yes, this world is full of shifting sand.

So what can we count on today? The verse above from Psalm 119 holds the answer.

When we can’t bank on anything else, when sure things even crumble and fall away, we can be confident that God’s word will endure. More than that, it will not only endure but will stand firm as well. And of course, if God’s word endures and stands firm, it follows that God himself will be the unchanging rock and sure foundation that we all so desperately need.

I’d say that kind of unchanging blessing is all the reason we need to give thanks during Thanksgiving week—and beyond. Some of us may have many things working against us right now, but we all have our eternal and steadfast God loving us and working for us each day of our lives. Let’s never forget that God is for us.

May God give you a Thanksgiving holiday filled with the knowledge of his unchanging love and goodness, and may your hearts overflow with the peace that comes from trusting in the One who never leaves us or forsakes us. Our God—an unchanging blessing indeed!

“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5 NIV

*What are you especially thankful for this Thanksgiving season?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out early this moonth. 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 felipe_gabaldonCreative Commons License

Prayer Can Transform Faces

As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.Luke 9:29 NIV

We’ve all heard that familiar saying that prayer changes things, but can prayer actually change our faces? I think it can.

The Bible gives us examples of faces transformed by prayer. The scripture above refers to the day Jesus took three of his disciples—Peter, James, and John—up onto a mountain to pray with him. Never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined what was about to unfold. As Jesus prayed, his face changed and his clothes turned bright as lightning. A transformation (known to Christians as the transfiguration) took place and the disciples were allowed to see Jesus in his glory. Just thinking of it leaves me in awe.

Moses’ face was also changed by spending time with God. After God met with Moses on Mt. Sinai and engraved the Ten Commandments on stone tablets for the Israelites, the Bible tells us that “[Moses’] face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.” (Exodus 34:29 NIV)

Think of Paul and Silas. After they were severely flogged and thrown into prison, they prayed together and even sang hymns as the other prisoners listened to them. Scripture doesn’t mention the expression on their faces, but it’s safe to assume that as their prayers gave way to hymns, the distress on their faces must have been replaced by peace and even joy.

Yes, our faces often reflect what’s going on in our hearts and lives, don’t they? When we pray and tell God our burdens and hopes and as we give him our thanks and praise, our faces will indeed show the peace and comfort, joy and refreshment, and even strength or determination he’s imparted to us.

So is prayer transforming our faces today, this week, this year? Can people see God’s love and care reflected there? Oh, may it be so! Let’s allow prayer—time we spend with God—to change our faces!

“Those who look to him are radiant;” Psalm 34:5 NIV

*When was the last time you felt your face change as you prayed?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks 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! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) p.s. If you sign up after Oct. 30th, you will be included in all future Life Notes giveaways but not in this current giveaway.

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

*Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash

Elegant Wedding Cake Idea: White on White

Mother of the Bride, is your daughter hoping to include touches of elegance in her wedding day celebration? If so, one of the perfect places to display elegance is in the wedding cake design. Remember, the wedding cake is quite often the centerpiece star of the show at the reception so why not let the bride’s wedding style shine here!

The “white on white” cake pictured above is a great example of one design your elegance-loving daughter might like to consider. “White on white” itself speaks of classic elegance not to mention the gorgeous white flowers with pearl centers and the inclusion of the traditional wedding tulle. What wedding, in fact, would be complete without some tulle somewhere? 

Be sure to share this idea with your sweet daughter, MOB—and have fun considering all the options out there. And just think, after she’s decided on a design, it’s time to go for taste tests. That’s where the real fun comes in! Enjoy!

*You might also like to read Wedding Cake Roundup and Elegant Mini Cakes Wedding Cake Ideas.

*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 (top) and Flickr photo (bottom) by Corey Ann; Creative Commons License