Archives for August 2011

Portal of Hope

It’s not too uncommon to see rays of light shining from behind a dark cloud on overcast days, reminding us that indeed the sun is still there and will eventually break through. Such a sight offers us the extra encouragement we need to hang on until the dreary weather—or current unhappy life circumstance—passes. Those rays of light impart hope, don’t they?

The more unusual sight happens when hope pierces the clouds and forms a window, a portal to the blue skies beyond. We see not just a whisper of light but instead a crystal clear view of the beauty awaiting us. We see the azure glory behind the clouds.

And even though the window view may be small, it’s still an invitation to come and see, to look through the portal and take hope in what lies ahead—to put our trust in God and wait for His perfect timing in giving the promised blessing.

So when the skies of our lives hang low with dark clouds or when overcast days color our existence, let’s remember to look for the portal of hope. All it takes is a small window view to revive our hope for a better tomorrow. For as blue skies eventually break through the clouds, so also blessing comes to those who put their hope in the Lord.

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

*My photo

Giveaway Winner Plus A Question for You

That’s right. Today’s the day to announce the winner of the “Back At It” Giveaway 2 so let’s get down to business. This time the lucky winner of a $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble is . . . Kristin! Congratulations, Kristin! Hope you enjoy! (Kristin has been following my blog since my first post and has entered every giveaway. So fun to see her finally win one!)

Now on to part two of this post: As you may remember, the reason I hosted the “Back At It” Giveaway 2 was to kick off getting back into more focused writing here on the blog after doing several weeks of Summer Photo Fun. The timing was good since so many of you were also trying to get back into gear with a new school year for your kids.

But what I want us to ask ourselves today is if there is something else we may need to get back to—something we may have let fall by the wayside for any number of reasons.

Have we let our exercise routine slide lately, or have we gotten away from the healthier eating habits we’d been trying to follow? Have we neglected certain medical check-ups or tasks around the house? Or maybe we’ve drifted away from regular Bible reading and prayer. Maybe we’re not spending the time with God that we once did.

So the question for each of us is this: What do I need to start doing again?

There’s no better time than today. Let’s go out there and get back at it!

“. . . for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again . . .” Proverbs 24:16a

*Flickr photo by mikebaird

Taking the Leap: A Goal Fulfilled

Fulfilling a goal many times requires taking small, gradual steps. Other times, however, it demands a giant leap. I took such a leap two weeks ago.

Since my former critique partner decided she could no longer critique for me, one of my writing goals (and ongoing prayers) for the past couple of years has been to find a new critique partner or group. Even though I’ve known having other writers read and make suggestions on my writing is essential to turning out my best work, I’ve been hesitant to take the plunge and get involved in a new critique situation. Why? Fear of the unknown.

For one thing, it would mean learning a new computer skill. I hate to admit it, but I hadn’t yet learned how to insert comments into attached documents emailed to me. I didn’t know if I would be able to figure out whatever method a new critique group might require.

Also, since I don’t live in a metropolitan area, I knew my chances of finding an in-person critique group were pretty slim. The other option would be an online group, but the thought of joining an online group that would include strangers didn’t really appeal to me.

Not only could it be uncomfortable communicating with strangers, it could get especially tricky when pointing out weaknesses or offering suggestions on their writing. I was also concerned about getting into a situation where I didn’t know the level of experience the other members might have.

Still, I knew I needed a critique group if I hoped to improve my writing and my chances for publication. It was time—no, past time—to set my fear of the unknown aside and join an online critique group. It was time to take the leap.

And so, after seeking the Lord’s guidance, I joined the FCW online critique group. I have to say it felt GREAT to finally fulfill this particular goal of mine. I’ve already had one piece critiqued and offered critique as well, and now I’m kicking myself for not having taken the leap earlier. I can already see that this group will be a huge help to me—and I know some of the members as well since I attend the group meetings in Tulsa.

How about you? Anyone need to take your own leap of faith in order to fulfill one of your goals? Don’t let fear of the unknown (or any other fear) hold you back the way I did. Seek God’s leading—and then leap away!

“‘. . . The righteous will live by faith.’” Romans 1:17b

*Flickr photo by The Daily Ornellas

**Don’t forget to enter the “Back At It” Giveaway 2! Leave a comment on that post by noon Sunday for a chance to win.

Church in a Condo

3568886566_68510519a4_zHave you ever had church in a condo? We enjoyed just such a time a few weeks ago during our family vacation to beautiful Colorado. (Sorry to keep referring to our vacation, but lots of life happened during those days that I’d like to share with you! :) )

That Sunday started off extra sweet as Kelli and Jake made cinnamon roll pancakes for us for breakfast. (And yes, they tasted every bit as good as they sound!) But what was even sweeter is what happened next. Church happened. Right in the midst of our family. Right at the dining room table.

While everyone chatted, I slipped away for a moment. When I returned with my Bible, I was pretty sure my girls knew what I was up to since they had grown up with good ole Mom trying to jumpstart some kind of family share time during holidays or vacations. During their teen years, protests or groans usually ensued but not anymore. (All of you with kids at home, take heart—they do grow up, and there is hope! :) )

No, this time a slice of heaven on earth—at least to this mom’s heart—transpired. I began our share time by reading one of my favorite Bible passages and then suggested that everyone else either share their one of their favorite scriptures or tell what God had been doing in their lives lately.

Along with my husband, one by one our daughters and their hubbies shared scriptures and stories of how God was teaching them something or encouraging them in some way. Bottom line? We had church. What a blessing to sit back and listen to our adult kids talk about the Lord and His Word. What a blessing to see our kids walking in the truth.

Church in a condo? You bet. No greater joy… no greater joy.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4

*Flickr photo by ALM Portraits, Creative Commons License

*Don’t forget to enter the “Back At It” Giveaway 2! You must comment on that post by noon Aug. 28 for a chance to win.

Sometimes the Wonder Is at Home

High hopes and firm expectations of a marvelous week fueled our packing and quick-as-possible exit from home a few weeks ago. As we escaped the confines of our small community in our rather ordinary region of the country and headed towards the mountains—towards the promise of beauty and wonder and grandeur galore—God surprised us with an early taste of the refreshment we sought.

Not more than a half-mile outside of town, unexpected movement not far off the roadway captured our attention. In a split second, Don and I both saw it—a fawn leaping through an overgrown field. No momma in sight, just the baby. Our first wildlife spotting of the trip.

We had to laugh. Here we were headed to Colorado to surround ourselves with the beauty of the mountains (and our kids!) and to see the wonders of God’s creation—wildlife included—and we saw a little miracle bounding through a field not five minutes from home. In that moment, God reminded me that sometimes the wonder is at home.

Not only did He give that reminder as we left for our much-anticipated week in the mountains, He bookended our trip with the same reminder as we traveled home. Believe it or not, less than twenty minutes from our house, we spotted in the light of our headlights four or five deer dashing across the highway in front of us. After a week filled with exciting encounters with the wildlife of the Rocky Mountains, God seemed to say again, “Remember, sometimes the wonder is at home.”

Even though over the next few days I experienced the normal let-down most of us feel after a vacation and even though the beauty of the mountains feeds my spirit like nothing else, what comfort I found in the knowledge that wonder and beauty can be found at home, too. What comfort in knowing that God—and the beauty of His creation—are ever-present, no matter where I am.

How about you? Are you in need of such a reminder? Take a moment and consider your life. Consider the world around you. And remember—sometimes the wonder is at home.

“I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.” Psalm 9:1

*Flickr photo by Jeffery™, Creative Commons License

**Don’t forget to enter the “Back At It” Giveaway 2! You must comment on that post by noon Aug. 28 for a chance to win.