Absent Without Leave: Body Parts and the Body of Christ

My voice went AWOL on me one spring a few years ago. Blame it on seasonal allergies (which I usually don’t have) or just a nasty spring cold, but I spent the better part of a week trying to communicate with anything from a hoarse whisper to a croaking, cough-infused version of my former speaking voice. And forget the singing voice. It stayed AWOL even longer.

What a difference one little part of our bodies can make. Having next to no voice made it difficult and at times impossible to do certain tasks and carry on with life as normal. Maybe because life is not normal when a part of our bodies is missing or not functioning the way it should, huh?

The staff at the pharmacy probably thought they were dealing with a prank caller on my first voiceless morning when I called to ask advice from the pharmacist. I pretty much gave up on phone calls after that, though I did talk to my daughter Kelli when she called one day. Poor thing had to listen to me cough and hack my way through that conversation.

When my voice started to return, I had to apologize for how it sounded every time I spoke to someone new. I also couldn’t make myself heard if I was more than a few feet away. And I’m still trying to figure out why Don thought I could answer him when he yelled at me from another room. Crazy guy.

I was living proof that our lives are definitely hampered when a part of the body goes AWOL. And you know that’s true not only for our physical bodies, but for the body of Christ—the church—as well. Scripture likens the church to a physical body, and the comparison is an apt one.

Since as believers, we are each part of the body and each have a role to fulfill or a function to perform, what do you suppose happens when one or more members of the body goes AWOL? Yes, the rest of the body finds it difficult and even impossible at times to carry on its normal tasks. They may have to give up a vital service or ministry or, at the very least, apologize for a role being inadequately or half-heartedly filled.

So let’s ask ourselves today what kind of body part we are. Let’s not be the ones to make life difficult for our fellow church members. Let’s not go AWOL on the body of Christ.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 NIV

*What kind of body part are you? What role or roles are you playing in the body of Christ?

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

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. 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.)

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

*Flickr photo by Michael CoryCreative Commons License

Wedding Photo Ideas Roundup That Star the Groom

Mother of the Bride, as you help plan your daughter’s wedding, I imagine you’re spending lots of time focusing on her needs and desires, but don’t forget to give attention to the groom as well. After all, he’s the other half of the main-event couple in the upcoming celebration of a lifetime. Give thought to how you can make him feel special too.

One way to shine a light on the groom is to ask the photographer to make sure he is the star in some of the wedding photos. It’s only natural that the bride in all her wedding-day beauty will be featured in more of the photos, but the groom deserves some limelight too. Whether it’s an artsy shot like the one above, a fun shot with the groomsmen, or a thoughtful shot taken in any number of ways, make sure special moments starring the groom are captured too.

Below you’ll find a roundup of my Mother of the Bride Blog posts which highlight wedding photo ideas especially featuring the groom. I hope they’ll give you and the bride some ideas you can mention to the photographer and spur other ideas as well. Here’s to amazing wedding day photos!

Groom’s Reminder

A Toast for the Groom and His Guys 

Groom and Groomsmen Fun 

Bridesmaids Holding the Groom

Candid or Private Moment Between Groom and Minister 

Groom Admires His Bride 

Bridesmaids Blow the Groom a Kiss 

*You might also like to read Building a Bridge to the Groom and 9 Easy Ways for the MOB to Bond With the Groom.

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

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. 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.)

*Flickr photo by Muhammad Faizon 89, Creative Commons License

Winter Trees and the Church: Beautiful Support

This may sound odd to some people, but I see a unique beauty in the naked trees of winter. Many would describe them as stark, drab, or depressing. I, on the other hand, think they have a beauty all their own when winter strips them of their leafy glory.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the leafy glory of trees as much as the next person. Watching trees bud out and turn green in the spring holds a special excitement for all of us. Summer then brings lush, full trees to pleasantly fill our landscapes before autumn arrives and sets them ablaze with color. I delight in each of these seasons and the changes they bring to trees.

But I think trees are beautiful in winter as well. Some might think it’s like looking at skeletons, but I see what looks like arms and fingers reaching for and pointing to God. I love looking out and seeing the intricacies of the branches. Winter allows us a view of the support system of the leaf laden trees we enjoy the rest of the year. Without the drab looking branches, there could be no beautiful leaves.

Winter trees actually remind me of other support systems in our lives as well. Just think about our bodies and all that’s working together beneath the surface to keep us up and running. The same can be said for just about every company, group, or organization we might name.

Consider the church. Many programs and people are highly visible, but there are just as many or more serving behind the scenes. And it’s the behind-the-scenes-type activity that makes it possible for the more visible ministries to take place. Everyone needs to do their part to keep things running smoothly—and more than that, to enable growth.

What role are you filling in your church—or life in general? Are you a part of the highly visible, leafy-glory, or is your role a part of the vital support system that’s needed? Maybe a little of both? Just keep in mind that neither is better. Both are needed and valued.

So take another look at the winter trees. Beautiful, huh?

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 NIV

*What support systems in your church, workplace, or organizations are you most thankful for?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out Feb. 1st. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks 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.)

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

*Flickr photo by Oakley Originals, Creative Commons License

*I hope you enjoyed this revised encore post from January 2008!

7 November Stress-Busters

The calendar has turned the page to another new month so that means it’s time to offer you another set of month-appropriate stress-busters. I hope you’re enjoying beginning each month with some ideas designed to help you relax and refresh in the face of stress.

Whether dealing with the normal daily stresses of life or additional major stresses, we all need ways that can help us step back for a few minutes and intentionally put that stress on a back-burner. If we do that often enough, we may find our overall feelings of stress diminishing as we learn to better cope with them day by day.

May the stress-busting strategies below come in handy in November when you find yourself in need of refreshment and relief. Be blessed, friends!

November Stress-Busters

  1. Take a few minutes to watch the leaves fall from the trees and dance their way to the ground. As you watch them float gently down, imagine your stress falling from your head, your shoulders, your arms, your hands, your legs, and your feet in the same way. Consciously relax your body.
  2. Before going to bed each night, jot down at least one thing that happened that day for which you’re thankful. Gratitude has a way of changing our perspective and lessening the worries of the day. By the end of the month, you may decide to keep a gratitude list or journal year-round.
  3. As you begin thinking ahead to Christmas, decide on at least two ways you can simplify your life or the celebration of the season in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. If you can go beyond making two changes, wonderful. Anything you can do to ease the increased demand of the holiday season will be well worth it.
  4. Enjoy some Thanksgiving nostalgia. Recall and share with family or friends some of your memories of childhood Thanksgivings. Welcome and listen to others’ stories as well. End by sharing your most memorable Thanksgiving whether long past or fairly recent. Let the comfort of past joys soothe your spirit today.
  5. Head outside for some impromptu physical activity. Get in a little leaf-raking therapy or go on your own little turkey trot around the neighborhood. Or you might grab some loved ones and challenge them to a quick game of basketball or touch football. Let your adrenaline pump that stress right out of your mind and body.
  6. Reach out to someone hurting or in need and in the process watch your stresses fade into the background. No question about it—you will be blessed as you bless someone else.
  7. Simplify at the end of a busy day and have breakfast for dinner. Set aside an evening of time-intensive dinner prep and cleanup and fix pancakes and bacon or scrambled eggs and sausage instead. You’ll still enjoy a hot meal with a touch of comfort to boot.

Add to these November stress-busters the ultimate stress-buster of dropping your burdens at the feet of Jesus and peace will be your portion this month rather than worry. Can’t beat a trade like that!

“‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’” Matthew 11:28

*Share with us—tell about your most memorable Thanksgiving or mention what you’re thankful for today. We’ll all be blessed!

*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.)

*Flickr photo by Vijay Gunda, Creative Commons License

Wedding Inspiration Cards by Author Cheryl Barker

Mother of the Bride, did you know I’ve written some wedding-themed cards? I wanted another product to offer at bridal fairs along with my book Mother of the Bride so with the critique help of my daughter Kristin and the design expertise of Stephanie Wheatley of Wheatley Design, I created my original Wedding Inspiration cards. I’m so pleased with how they turned out. I think you’ll love them too.

The five cards I have available are printed on high quality cardstock so they make wonderful gifts and/or personal resources. I mentioned them a few months ago but had never done a feature post on them so I decided it was time to rectify that. You can include the cards in gifts or give them as a gift by themselves. I don’t sell envelopes with them, but they do fit perfectly in any business size envelope.

You can click on the photo above to see a larger version of the picture, but I’ll list the titles of the five Wedding  Inspiration cards for your convenience:

A Mother of the Bride’s Prayer

A Bride’s Wedding Day Prayer

Praying for Newlyweds

For the Newlyweds

Life Lessons from the Mother of the Bride

Most of the titles are pretty self-explanatory, but Life Lessons from the Mother of the Bride features lessons that anyone can benefit from and For the Newlyweds is perfect to include in a wedding gift or to send to the new couple in the days or weeks following the wedding.

The cards sell for $3.00 each and are available directly through me. Just contact me with your order and we’ll work out the details of payment and mailing, etc.

I hope my Wedding Inspiration cards will be a blessing to all who receive them—and I hope that will include you, MOB! Talk to you soon!

*You might also like to read My Work page

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $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.)

*My photo