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

Remembering Trust

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We are now over two months into 2017 so I decided this would be a good time to remember and reinforce my theme word for the year. That word is trust.

In order to spend some time reflecting on and further cementing trust in my heart and life, I thought I’d write an acrostic for it. And if you chose a word for the year, why not write an acrostic of your own? Who knows what God might show us through this exercise? Here’s what I came up with. Hope it blesses you today!

Remember to Trust

Timing is God’s specialty so exercise faith and let him do his thing.

Rest in the knowledge that God knows the future and will bring about what is best.

Urge one another not to worry but to keep your eyes on the Lord.

Sing songs of praise and worship daily, expressing your faith out loud.

Take God at his word and believe in his promises.

If you didn’t choose a theme word for the year, I’d be happy to have you join me in focusing on trust. God may use it to comfort us or challenge us or more likely do both. And we can rest assured it will all be for our good.

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10

*Besides writing an acrostic, what are some other ways we can reinforce our theme words?

*Flickr photo by Kansas Poetry (Patrick), Creative Commons License

God Delights in You and Me

8894717141_7c321496d6_z“He will take great delight in you; in his love he will . . . rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph. 3:17 NIV

Isn’t it amazing to think that God love us so much he delights in us? In fact, as the verse above points out, he actually rejoices over us with singing. Now that’s some kind of love, isn’t it?

Over the years I’ve had trouble comprehending how deep God’s love for me is and how he does indeed delight in me, but I read one example recently that has helped me better understand God’s great love.

In the Bible study Living in God’s Will, author Janice Mayo Mathers told how she delights in her little granddaughter. She then pointed out that God delights in us even more. As she described how she delights in everything from her precious granddaughter’s personality to her smiles to her eyelashes, this was something I could understand. Finally, a way that helped me truly feel God’s love and, yes, his delight.

Thinking of how deeply I love and delight in my own sweet grandsons, I can now understand how God delights in me. I’m in awe when I think of how his eyes must light up when he sees me smile or how his heart warms as he watches me love on all my grandbabies. When he hears me call his name, his heart must leap for joy, and when he sees me lift my tear-stained face toward him, how he must delight in my faith during heartbreak. How, in his great love, he must long to hold me and comfort me.

 Yes, God delights in me—and in you. Yes, he loves us more than we can comprehend. Join me, won’t you, in learning to trust and rest and bask in that love each and every day.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1

*How has God shown his great love for you?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out in early February. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by mugenai, Creative Commons License

A Prayer for the Newlyweds

4813708804_b236e8f1a1_zMother of the Bride, here is a prayer you can tuck away for the days and months following the Big Day—a prayer for your sweet newlywed couple. Prayer is one priceless yet simple way you can continue to gift your darling daughter and her new husband after they are married. Hope this prayer gives voice to the beat of your heart!

A Gift of Prayer for the Newlyweds

Thank you, Lord, for joining the lives
of this couple so dear to me,
this man, this woman, so deeply in love
pledging themselves to total union.
Lord, give them wisdom to model their love
after your very own,
may love and forgiveness flow without limit,
may kindness be their guide.
Bless them, Lord, beyond their dreams
grant them memories that make them smile,
give them vision to make a difference
to serve loved ones and strangers alike.
Gift them, Father, with many years
living life side by side,
growing even more deeply in love—
this man, this woman, united.

Give the gift of prayer, MOB. It’s a gift that will make a difference.

*You might also like to read Mothers of the Bride Need Prayer.

*I thought Valentine’s Day was the perfect day to share this encore post from 2015. Hope you enjoyed!

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter which includes a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out the first of the month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by Villa Amor in Sayulita, Creative Commons License

Never Give Up in Prayer

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“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Have you ever felt like giving up in your prayers for a certain person or about a particular issue? Maybe his or her heart seems too hard to ever desire a change or maybe that issue seems impossible and beyond all reasonable hope. You may feel like your prayers aren’t making a difference at all.

We’ve probably all experienced discouraging thoughts like these at some point or other. When we grow discouraged, when we grow weary in our prayers, let’s remember that “…nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:47)

The next time we lose heart, let’s be honest with the Lord and ask him to refresh us. Let’s share our burdens with one another and encourage each other. Let’s determine to keep looking for the harvest. Let’s determine to never give up.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

*Is there something or someone I can join you in prayer for today? Please feel free to share in the comments.

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter which includes 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!

*I hope this slightly revised encore post from January 2011 was a blessing to you today!

*Flickr photo by ^@^ina (Irina Patrascu Gheorghita ), Creative Commons License