Budding: New Growth in Spring and in Life

Have you noticed them yet this season? Budding trees. They whisper promises of things to come, slip us reminders of spring’s unfailing relief from winter’s frigid toll. One day they nudge us and say, “Look at us. New growth! There’s hope after all . . .”, while on another they call out, “Look at us! We’re budding! What will you become?!”

I love how the seasons speak to us on deeper levels and give us encouragement to grow or rest, to persevere or hope. Spring has the privilege of bringing hope to weary souls and inspiring us to branch out or reach for new heights. It works wonders in our world and in our hearts, and each year its work in our lives might be a little different.

The image of growth in spring has influenced how we see so many things. We’ve all heard people say, “He’s a budding artist” or “She’s a budding musician”, and they’re usually referring to children or teens. But I can’t help but notice, in the natural world, that even old trees bud year after year. New growth and the promise of things to come grace them as well.

And to be honest, probably none of us reading this post today are children or teens. We’re all older trees, if you will, though some of us are indeed older than others. The good news is that old trees bud! We’re not only capable of growth, it’s expected.

So what’s budding in our lives as we head into spring this year? What evidence of growth can be seen on our branches? Are we mastering a new skill or using some new technology? Are we displaying strength or peace in the face of adversity? As believers, are we looking more like our Savior each year?

If you don’t feel like you’re growing right now, it’s not too late to start. Get out there and start budding! Rejoice in the promise of things to come!

“In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit.” Isaiah 27:6 NIV

*Is there something budding in your life right now? If not, what would you like to see bud?

*I hope this slightly revised encore post from March 2011 blesses you today!

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

Making Our Lives Count: Laura Bush’s Words Still True Today

Several years ago when the tenth anniversary of 9/11 drew near, we heard, saw, and read many reminders of that horrific time. I came across one that year that I think bears repeating here. I hope you will agree.

Woman’s Day Editor-In-Chief (at that time) Elizabeth Mayhew introduced their September issue with a quote from an essay former First Lady Laura Bush wrote for their magazine on the first anniversary of the attacks. I love what Mrs. Bush had to say:

“You don’t have to walk into a burning building or wear a badge to rescue someone. You don’t have to go to medical school to help a person feel better, or walk on the moon to change this earth. You simply have to care about what happens in our country. To me, we can all honor the lives lost on September 11 by making our lives count even more.”

What great perspective Mrs. Bush offered back in 2002—and it’s still true today. Instead of feeling hopeless and helpless in the face of overwhelming times, we can make a difference. We can make our lives count. Sometimes we just need to think about it a bit and then become more intentional in our efforts.

So what can we do to make things better for our nation? We can vote regularly in elections and pray for our leaders. We can treat others with kindness and respect. We can volunteer through our churches and civic organizations when crises come or to help with ongoing projects. We can support our military and their families and volunteer at our communities’ schools. We can also recycle and try to incorporate other earth friendly practices in our lives. The possibilities abound.

In like fashion, we as Christians should be making our lives count for the Lord as well. We can grow closer to him each day, becoming a beacon of hope and good news for those around us. We can live our faith in front of our families and friends in good times and bad, setting an example for our children and grandchildren. We can pray for and encourage others. We can get involved in mission projects and actively support missionaries. We can be ready to share the good news of a Savior as the Lord gives opportunity. Yes, we can make a difference eternally.

Let’s heed the wisdom Mrs. Bush offered on that first anniversary of 9/11. Let’s make our lives count even more.

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” Matthew 10:42 NIV

*What else can we do to make a difference in our nation or for Christ?

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

*I hope this slightly revised post from Sept. 2011 blessed you today!

*Flickr photo by włodiCreative Commons License

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!

Rock-Solid Words of Hope

Many around the world are in need of hope today. Their situations look bleak if not impossible. They are struggling to hang on to hope.

Right here in our country, countless folks in Florida and Texas are dealing with the aftermath of hurricane force winds, tornadoes, and the floodwaters that came with Irma and Harvey. Some may feel that all hope slipped away with the winds and waters that wreaked such havoc on their lives. And in yet other parts of the country, people are battling wildfires.

Others of us may be in need of hope right now for different reasons. If you fall into that group, this post is for you as well as for all of those struggling to regain their footing after their foundations literally got blown or washed or burned away.

The truest and most powerful words of hope I can share with you come straight from the Word of God. God’s Word is a firm foundation. His promises are rock-solid. May the following scriptures inspire fresh hope and strengthen your faith today, my friends!

“. . . I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” Isaiah 49:23

“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

“‘There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the valley of Achor [trouble] a door of hope.’” Hosea 2:15

“As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.” Psalm 71:14

“Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.” Zechariah 9:12

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him . . .” Romans 15:13

Praise God for the hope we have in him!

*Which of these verses speak to you most powerfully today?

*Since September is an exceptionally busy month for me this year, I’m taking a short break and will be back on the 26th. Maybe you can take a look at my list of Favorite Posts (sidebar) and read some posts from there. Blessings!

*Flickr photo by Our Enchanted Gardens, Creative Commons License

Prisoner of Hope While Waiting

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“Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.” Zechariah 9:12

I am a prisoner—a prisoner of hope. Both professionally and personally I’m in the midst of long waits. Not long ago when I read the verse above where God is speaking to his people Israel, my spirit said, “Yes, yes, that’s me. I’m a prisoner of hope.”

On the professional front, many of you know I’ve been working towards book publication for a long time. Yes, it’s been a period filled with work to help bring the dream to fruition, but even though it’s been an active time, it’s also been a waiting time. Waiting as I develop my craft. Waiting as I build an online presence. Waiting as I network. Waiting for the right time to seek an agent. And now my agent and I work and wait together for the right publishing deal to unfold.

Just a few weeks ago, my publication dream looked like it was finally going to become reality. We actually had a contract. But before we could get it finalized, economic difficulties forced the publisher to withdraw their new contract offers. My book deal disappeared before I could ever announce it.

In the face of this withdrawn contract, hope threatened to disappear as well. But instead, it was time to live out my faith. Time to put feet to my claims of wanting God’s will alone. Time to turn once again to my Fortress, my God, and fix my eyes on him. Time to continue being a prisoner of hope.

On the personal front, my husband and I have been waiting with our kids for years for God to bless them with a child. As with me and my book publication dreams, this period has been an active time for them as well as they’ve worked towards making their dream come true. But in their situation, the waiting time outweighs active times. The whole experience can best be described as brutal. And we have been standing with them in prayer continually—and hurting with them as well through countless disappointments.

And yes, with each of their disappointments, hope threatens to disappear. Each time we must each one decide to lift our tear-stained eyes to our Fortress, our God, and continue to trust in him. We must choose to continue living our lives as prisoners of hope.

God is worthy of our trust, and he alone is our source of hope. Look at the last half of the verse in Zechariah—“even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.” I believe not only does God want to bless us, but he wants to bless us abundantly.

How about you? Are you a prisoner of hope? Do you need to return to your fortress today and live out your continued trust and hope in God? You’re not alone. Let’s join our hands and walk our faith together.

“But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.” Psalm 71:14

*What are you hoping for today?

*p.s. If you would be so kind, would you whisper a prayer for the situations I shared with you today? Thank you!

*Flickr photo by cabodevassoura, Creative Commons License