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!

The Power of Remembering God’s Faithfulness

“‘But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike.’” Acts 26:22 NIV

Do you wonder how you can impact others for Christ or how you can strengthen your own faith?

One way to strengthen our faith is to recall God’s past faithfulness—to remember the times he’s been there for us or acted in our behalf. If we’ll then take it a step further and speak or write or sing of his faithfulness, we will undoubtedly point others to Christ as well and possibly impact their lives for eternity.

In the Bible one example of the apostle Paul remembering God’s faithfulness is found in the book of Acts. When Paul was imprisoned wrongfully while in Jerusalem, he testified before King Agrippa that “God has helped me to this very day. . .” While this particular statement is fairly broad, others he made were more specific. And I imagine that while he sat in his prison cell, he may have privately recalled all the times God had been faithful to him—either as a way to offer thanks to God for all he had done in the past and what he would certainly do in the present circumstance or as a way to bolster his faith when so much was hanging in the balance.

Likewise, when times are bad in our lives, we too can strengthen our faith by recalling God’s faithfulness to us. We too can impact others for the Lord as we testify how God has helped us throughout our lives, how he has helped us to this very day.

God has certainly helped me to this very day. He has strengthened me, comforted me, loved me, forgiven me, delivered me, guided me, empowered and used me, blessed me, and answered my prayers time and again.

Is this your testimony as well? If so, let it strengthen your faith as you remember God’s faithfulness to you. And let it impact others as you testify!

It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.” Daniel 4:2 NIV

*In what ways can you tell others about God’s faithfulness to you?

*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.)

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

*Flickr photo by michael pollak, Creative Commons License

God Stands Near and Gives Courage

“. . . the Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Take courage!’” Acts 23:11 NIV

We’ve all been there—in situations where the stakes are immense and our courage has all but vanished. The life of a loved one may hang in the balance, a disaster may threaten to crush us, or a dream may be crumbling before our eyes. Fear grabs us by the throat and leaves us shaken in every way. We need courage and strength beyond our own.

We find in the Bible that the apostle Paul was no stranger to desperate and dangerous circumstances of his own. The instance from the passage above happened one time when Paul was in Jerusalem. A great uproar had broken out amongst the Jews over Paul and his teachings. He faced deadly mob violence until Roman soldiers took him prisoner. Then when the commander had Paul speak to the Sanhedrin—the supreme Jewish court—the circumstances turned violent again. And again, the Romans intervened and took Paul prisoner.

Just when Paul must have been wondering if he’d make it out of Jerusalem alive, the Lord came and imparted courage to him. Scripture tells us he stood near Paul and told him to take courage, that he had further work for him to do. Whether the Lord stood there physically or in spirit, he came to encourage Paul—in fact, to give him courage. And he drew near to do it.

Will not the Lord also come to us when we are in dire circumstances? Will he not also stand near us and speak courage and peace to our hearts when we desperately need it? Indeed he will. We can count on it. We can count on him. 

“say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come . . . he will come to save you.’” Isaiah 35:4 NIV

*When has the Lord drawn close and imparted courage, peace, or strength to you?

*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.)

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

*Flickr photo by Curtis Simmons, Creative Commons License

Pre-Ceremony Wedding Day Prayer Idea: The Mother of the Bride Prays for the Bride

Mother of the Bride, before your precious daughter says I do on her wedding day, why not send her off into her next stage of life with a prayer? What could be more meaningful than a prayer falling from the lips of the one who has loved her, watched over her, taught her, and encouraged her from the moment she was born? Yes, dear MOB, you are that treasured. Your prayer will bless her in a way that no one else’s can.

On the big day, after your little-girl-turned-bride is all dressed and waiting with her bridesmaids for the appointed time to get into place, have everyone get in a circle and hold hands while you pray for your darling daughter and the love of her life.

You may want to give your prayer some thought ahead of time and make mental note of the things you want to mention so you won’t forget something important to you. After all, your brain may be on overload by the time you reach go-time. Or on the other hand, you may prefer to let it all come naturally in the moment from the overflow of your heart. Do what works best for you. There is no right or wrong way.

One thing is certain—your prayer asking for God’s blessing and protection and for encouraging their total, sold-out commitment to each other and to God will undergird your sweet girl with strength and love and send her off into her new life with the complete support and blessing of her mom. What better gift could be given? I only wish someone had suggested it to me when my girls got married. We missed this special time together because I simply didn’t think about it. But you don’t have to miss it, Mother of the Bride. Now you’ve heard the idea!

So MOB, gift your daughter—and yourself—with this once in a lifetime moment and memory. And rest assured that God will use your send-off prayer in mighty and wonderful ways!

*You might also like to read A Prayer for the Newlyweds, A Prayer for the Bridesmaids’ Luncheon, and Wedding Resource: Prayers for the Mother of the Bride

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. 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.)

*Stephtphotography photo of my nephew’s beautiful bride Kaitlynn and her sweet mom Shannon

7 May Stress Busters

Happy May to one and all! Not only does the arrival of a new month have us looking at what’s in store in the weeks ahead, but here on my blog it signals it’s time for the next installment in my year-long Stress Busters blog series. Fingers crossed that you look forward to each one!

Since I started sharing the stress busters last September—and with the way time is flying—it won’t be long until I’ve completed the full set of month-appropriate stress busters. I so hope they have blessed you.

The month of May is often second only to December in its busy factor so I pray the following May stress busters will provide the refreshment you may need. Here’s to making it through May with interludes of peace and joy in the midst of the end-of-the-school-year dashing to and fro. Be blessed my friends!

May Stress Busters

  1. Since April showers bring May flowers, soak up the beauty and fragrance of flowers at least one day this month. Go for a walk through a flower garden or a park that features a generous display of flowers. Or if you have the chance, visit a botanical garden. Let the amazing and delicate wonder of flowers refresh your spirit.
  2. In spite of the extremely busy schedule you may have this month, take time each day to be with God. Whether looking up to the heavens or kneeling before him, spend moments in praise and worship. Talk to him, telling him all of your concerns. Hear his voice as you read his Word. Commune with the Father and let him fill you with peace and joy.
  3. If your mother is still with you, treat yourself (and her!) to a visit or a nice long phone call or FaceTime session at some point around Mother’s Day. Mothers are often our best encouragers so let her love, support, and encouragement minister to your soul. If this isn’t possible with your mom for some reason, do it with another one of the great encouragers in your life.
  4. Be intentional about taking rest. Schedule it on the calendar if necessary. It may mean leaving Saturday mornings open so you can sleep in. Or you may need to say no to Sunday afternoon commitments so you can luxuriate in the all-important Sunday afternoon nap. For others, it may be blocking off time to relax with a good book or a round of golf. Whatever form it takes, provide yourself with respites of rest.
  5. Join in the celebrations of May (end of school year, graduations, weddings, etc.) or create one of your own. Not only accept that invitation to a party, but decide to celebrate something—no matter how big or small—that’s going on in your own life. Let celebrations provide joy in the midst of the pressures of life.
  6. Like December, May is another good month to opt for simple meals. Take a few hours early in the month one day and prepare some freezer meals or go outside and grill up a variety of meat to keep handy in the freezer. For other days, plan to fix your easiest meals or take advantage of your favorite take-out places. Ease your stress with no hassle meal prep this month.
  7. With Memorial Day in mind, spend some time writing down or recording on video some of your favorite memories and stories of loved ones who have passed. Our memories savored internally are wonderful, but wouldn’t it be great to have some of them recorded for yourself and others? Don’t make this harder than it is—relax and let your memories spill out of a heart of love. This interlude from present day demands will be good for your soul. 

May these stress-busting ideas help you relax and refresh during the whirlwind otherwise known as May. Blessings to you, my friends!

“‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” Mark 6:31 NIV

*Which of these stress busters would you like to try this month?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out this week. One lucky subscriber will receive a $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble 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. It is too late to get in on this issue’s giveaway, but if you subscribe, you will be included in all future Life Notes giveaways.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo — featuring my darling grandson Isaiah :)