Look for the Blessings

4748549566_820fe023ff_zHave you ever been through such a dark time that you had trouble noticing any light around you? Has your burden ever been so great that the blessings in your life seemed to be swallowed by the darkness?

The Bible tells us in the book of Ruth that Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi experienced this very thing—she missed seeing a wonderful blessing. It’s not hard to understand, though, when you consider all she’d been through.

While living in a foreign country to escape the famine in their own, Naomi’s husband died. About ten years later, both of her sons died as well. She and her daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah were left alone. Can you imagine the depth of grief they must have experienced?

Eventually, the famine lifted in her home country, and Naomi decided to return, taking her daughters-in-law with her. As they were traveling, Naomi realized that Ruth and Orpah would be better off to stay in their home country with their own mothers. At Naomi’s urging, Orpah finally decided to head back home, but Ruth could not be dissuaded to leave Naomi. She pledged her allegiance and continued on the journey.

When Naomi was recognized and greeted as she and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem, Naomi summed up her life of late by focusing on the dark times and saying, “‘Don’t call me Naomi … Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty.’” (Ruth 1:20-21a)

Yes, Naomi had every reason to feel covered by a blanket of grief, but she allowed it to blind her to the fact that she had a great blessing in her life—she had Ruth. God had not brought Naomi back empty. She, however, couldn’t see that yet. Because of the darkness she felt, her blessing escaped her notice.

As we face dark times in our own lives, do we fail to see our blessings? Let’s do our best in those times to remember to look for the light around us. Let’s lift our eyes upward and outward and see the good things God has placed in our lives. Let’s look for the blessings.

“Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.” Psalm 112:4

*How has God blessed you during a particularly dark time in your life?

*Flickr photo by Lel4nd, Creative Commons License

The Precious Words of Jesus

IMG_3679Last fall I started reading through the gospels bit by bit as part of my daily Bible reading. For some reason I just felt drawn to reading the accounts of my Savior’s life once more. I’ve finished Matthew and will go on to Mark later. (I’m currently reading Genesis since I was drawn to it recently as well.)

The main thing that struck me as I did my gospel reading this time was how much I eagerly anticipated and enjoyed reading the words in red—the words of Jesus. I thought these are the words that Jesus spoke, this is what came from my Savior’s lips. I wanted to read every word he uttered.

Each day my eyes zeroed in on the words in red. I noticed them coming. My eyes and my ears perked up. I grew excited in my spirit. I wanted to hear from Jesus.

As I read the words my Savior spoke so many years ago, I savored them. It was almost as if I could hear him speaking. Knowing that he spoke those very words touched a chord deep within my heart. The Savior who loves me, who died for me, spoke those words. And they were precious to me.

I guess that shouldn’t come as a big surprise, though, should it? Much the same thing happens when we lose loved ones. We yearn to hear from them. We search for messages they’ve left behind or words they’ve written down. We watch for their handwriting and our eyes zero in on their words when we find them. We savor any remembrance of them.

So when my heart felt so drawn to the words of Jesus, when I treasured them so much, my love for him was evident. And it was good for me to see that evidence in my life. It reaffirmed my close relationship to him. In these days of ours on earth when living by faith can sometimes be hard, it helps to see evidence of our faith, doesn’t it?

If you haven’t read the words of Jesus lately, I highly recommend it. I think you’ll enjoy hearing the words our Savior spoke as much as I have. For they are precious words indeed.

“‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.’” Matthew 24:35

*What are some of your favorite words that Jesus spoke?

*My photo

Holiday Break for Me, Gift of Help for You

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Mother of the Bride, I’m taking a holiday blogging break until the first of the year, but I have a little gift for you—a gift of help! Allow me to point you in the right direction to find some great ideas and tips. Maybe at some point over the holidays, you’ll have a little time to wear your MOB hat. The chances may not be good, but you never know!

Two great sources of help are right here on my website. Glance over to the right sidebar and scan down until you see the Favorite Posts section. There you will find links to some important or super-helpful posts here on the Mother of the Bride Blog. Also, if you would like info or help on a certain topic, just use the search feature right under my picture on the header. It will pull up all kinds of help in an instant.

Another great source of helpful ideas can be found on my Pinterest page. I have eighteen wedding-related boards filled with terrific ideas for you. When you go over to check it out, be sure to follow me while you’re there so you won’t miss out on great new pins I post each week.

How’s that for some MOB help this holiday season? Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you!

*Find my annual Christmas poem over on my home page. Hope you enjoy—and see you in the new year!

*Flickr photo by top10things, Creative Commons License

Discovering Gems—Once More

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*Hope you enjoy this encore presentation from June 2008.

Last Friday while on an outing to a nearby town, my friend Teri and I discovered a gem. A beautiful and unique little shop nestled right in among the ordinary businesses on the ordinary streets of our very ordinary little corner of the world.

We wanted to go to lunch for a girlfriend catch-up session and decided to make a quick trip to Independence. We had heard about a quilt shop there that had recently been selected as one of the top ten quilt shops in the nation. In our neck of the woods? We needed to see this with our own eyes.

We were not disappointed. As we entered the shop, we seemed to step into another world. The high ceilings and rich-looking furnishings along with the beautiful and creatively displayed quilts and accessories created an ambiance of a luxurious and delightful retreat from the outside world. Everything we saw held a special touch. We were awestruck by the quality of goods and workmanship. And for those of you who know I don’t even own a sewing machine and am craft-challenged — yes, even I could spot the quality here :)

What fun to discover this gem of a shop in our own backyard. Teri was in her element, and me? I tried hard to fit in. When the salesladies were around, I just acted like I knew what I was looking at, and then when they walked away, I asked Teri one elementary question after another. Know what I discovered, though? You don’t have to understand all the facets and complexities of a gem to enjoy its beauty. I loved the shop.

As I think about us as individuals, I know a gem could be found in each one of us as well. Something beautiful and unique. Something quality. If others looked into your own very ordinary life, what gem would they discover? Would they find a master quilter, an artist, or a gourmet chef? Perhaps a talented athlete or musician? Or maybe like me, you’re just good with words. The possibilities are endless, aren’t they?

So take a closer look at yourself as well as others in your life. There’s beauty all around. Go ahead – have fun discovering gems!

“…its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel…” Revelation 21:11

*What gem have you or someone else discovered in your life?

*Flickr photo by Jewellery Monthly, Creative Commons License

Great Links For You, Blogging Break For Me

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July means it’s time for a two-week blogging break for me, but I’m not leaving you without some help, Mother of the Bride. I have some great links for you to peruse at your leisure. Whether you drink them in like one long gulp of refreshing lemonade or come back from time to time to have a sip here and there, I hope the ideas and inspiration you find here will hit your MOB spot.

Have you discovered the Strictly Weddings site yet? They feature the best of the best and are a great place to get ideas even if you’re not located in one of the cities they feature. I follow their Facebook page and Pinterest boards and love the photos they post in both of those places. Keep in mind that even if most of what they feature seems out of your budget, you can still look for similar items that will fit your price range better.

Here are the Strictly Weddings links:

Strictly Weddings website
Strictly Weddings Facebook page
Strictly Weddings Pinterest page
*My favorite board on their Pinterest page is their Wedding Cake Board.  Big surprise, huh?! :)

Enjoy the wedding eye candy, MOB! Hope you find some terrific ideas to pass along to your daughter. I’ll be back August 4th. See you then!

*You might also like to look at my Mother of the Bride Blog Posts board on my Pinterest page. It will give you a visual look at all of my posts. Another option is using the drop down feature in the Archives to see all of the blog post titles.

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out the first of August. Sign up is free and to the right!