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

A Blogging Change Plus Words to Inspire

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Hey everyone, the time has come to change things up a bit here on my blog. I’ve been blogging twice weekly since September 2007, and in June 2013 I started posting twice weekly to my Mother of the Bride Blog as well. Since that’s a lot of blog posts to keep up with and since I’ve reached a point where I need to devote more time to other projects (and people—like my grandchildren! :) ), I’ve decided a change is needed.

So from now on, I’ll post weekly—generally on Tuesdays—on both of my blogs. I won’t officially have Midweek Morsel posts anymore, but some of my weekly posts may resemble the Midweek Morsel posts of the past. I like the variety that shorter posts offer in the midst of some longer ones. And sometimes a short post is exactly what you—or I—need at a given time.

One thing that I hope doesn’t change is that you’ll always find refreshment, nourishment, and inspiration here. When you leave here, I want you to feel encouraged in some way. If we keep our eyes on the Lord together, that’s sure to happen, right?

So be encouraged today my friends with this Inspiration acrostic. May God use it to bless you indeed!

In God we find our strength and hope.

Nothing is too difficult for my God to handle.

Silence can soothe and energize so step back and soak it in.

Prayer and peace go hand in hand so give your worries to God.

Indeed my God loves me and stands ready to help me.

Refresh your spirit in the boundless beauty of God’s creation.

Alter your attitude to turn your day around.

Thankful hearts provide the perfect soil for joy to grow.

Invest in people and make a difference today, tomorrow, and forever.

One small act of kindness can be the first ripple of a day—or a life—redeemed.

Never underestimate the power of a smile.

“Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf.” Psalm 66:5

*Where do you find inspiration?

*My photo

Unchanging Memories, Unchanging God

We drove past the farms a few weeks ago. The ones my grandparents used to own. The ones we visited regularly throughout my growing up years. The farms of my memories.

We were returning home from my cousin’s funeral, traveling a highway I traveled time and again with my family when I was young. I already felt nostalgic after spending time with loved ones from the early days, the ones who shared important pieces—places and people—of my personal history, so as Don and I approached the familiar country-road turn-off that would lead to my grandparents’ farms, the pull of the countryside was strong. I wanted to return. To the farms. To my memories.

And so we did. We took the turn and headed toward my past. Past trees, past pastures, past country crossroads. I began to wonder if we’d ever get to the crossroad I remembered so well.

But then we broke through to the clearing. Just ahead I spotted Uncle Jerry and Aunt Della’s corner. Their house looked different somehow, but I didn’t let my eyes rest there long. Instead, my gaze fanned outward—out where I knew my memories lay.

And there they were. Grandpa and Grandma Barnes’s farm just around the corner and down the road, and then across the field from them, tucked up against the trees, stood my Grandpa and Grandma Hoy’s farm.

From a distance, I looked first at one place and then the other, scanning the grounds for changes. Yes, some things were different, especially the Hoy farmhouse. Someone had added on, resided it, and painted it a different color, causing it to lose all the familiar warmth of my memories.

Other structures were different as well, but thank goodness the barn and the silo stood the same. My heart could focus on them and also on other details of both farms that were still very much as I remembered. Just being on that ground again—on that acreage of my past—felt good, felt right. I belonged.

As we inched forward, driving past each place but staying in the car because of the bitter cold, I shared with Don glimpses of my past. I told him how often my sisters and I walked that very country road we were now driving—the walk that would take us from one set of grandparents to the other. Oh, that they were still there. Oh, that things could be the same again.

Sadly, time and man have altered the physical presence of my past, of that much-loved countryside. My memories, however, like the silo and the barn, stand the same. They offer me as much joy and comfort as they always have. They are safe in my heart.

I’m so thankful there are some things—like my memories—that stand the same. Some things that we can count on when other things change.

Most of all, I’m grateful for the one Person in my life who won’t ever change. I’m thankful for my Heavenly Father “who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17b) He is my solid Rock and will offer me the same comfort and joy that He always has. He is the place where I’ll always belong. I’ll be forever safe in His heart.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  Hebrews 13:8

*What are you thankful for that still stands the same?

*Be sure to enter the “I Love Dessert” Giveaway. Deadline is noon (CST) on Feb. 13th!

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out Feb. 1st. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign up is free and to the right!

A Well-Paved Path

Pain. Grief. Weakness. Limitations. None of us welcome these unwanted visitors—especially when they take up long-term residence in our lives. Each one causes distress in its own way. And let’s be honest. We all do our best to avoid distress whenever possible.

We don’t like to hurt. We don’t like to fail or find ourselves unable to do certain things. But as we live in these places of pain, we grow and learn lessons. We develop a deep empathy for others experiencing similar sorrows. Each of our painful places has the potential to become a well-paved path to another hurting soul.

In the New Testament, we see that the apostle Paul experienced pain, hardship, and limitations time and again. While we may feel the chains of weakness and limitations in our lives, Paul dealt with literal chains during the times he was imprisoned for the sake of the gospel.

He didn’t give in to discouragement during those imprisonments, however. While shackled and suffering, Paul saw the good that came from his chains. In his letter to the Philippians (1:14), he said, “Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”

Surely our chains of pain, grief, weakness, or limitations serve to encourage others as well. Other struggling folks might very well be inspired to persevere through their own trials as they see how God strengthens us in ours.

Whether reaching out to hurting souls going through similar situations as our own or whether being a beacon of hope and encouragement through the witness of our lives, let’s let our painful places result in good. Let’s let our lives be well-paved paths.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

*My photo

Marching Orders


March on, my soul; be strong!” Judges 5:21b

I saw this verse this past week in one of Beth Moore’s blog posts. She was sharing scriptures about marching since it’s the month of March, and I fell in love with these simple yet powerful words instantly: “March on, my soul; be strong!”

Just reading or saying those precious words from the Word of God seems to infuse my soul with His encouragement and strength. I think most of us probably feel the need for such encouragement on a daily basis as we face the challenges of life, but there are times when the need for fresh strength is almost overwhelming.

Are you faced with a difficult road to travel this month? Do fear and uncertainty loom ahead? Maybe the road is a continuation of an already difficult journey, and no end is in sight. Whatever the case, let’s allow the breath of heaven — the Word of God — to give us our marching orders and the strength to carry them out. Let’s march on!

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.” Psalm 84:5

*Flickr photo by sudeep1106, Creative Commons License