Archives for April 2013

Accidents and Mistakes: God Makes Them Shine

Sometimes I capture my best photos by accident. I didn’t even realize I caught the cardinal above in flight until I checked the shot on my camera’s screen. Woohoo! Gotta love it when accidents shine like that, huh?

Other times while trying to focus a shot, I take the picture prematurely. But every now and then, my mistake looks perfect. Evidently, the camera captures it in mid-focus at just the right moment. I can’t take credit for it, but I sure do celebrate it.

No, it’s not me that makes something good out of my foul-ups. God’s the one who can make my accidents or mistakes shine. And not just where photography’s concerned.

In spite of numerous parenting mistakes, God used my efforts and grew our daughters into the amazing women they are today. When it comes to marriage, God has kept Don and me together through all the ups and downs despite our many shortcomings. He even blesses with shining results in lesser things—like when my baking efforts hit an unexpected snag or when our choir misses a cue.

On a worldwide scale, we’ve all heard about inventions and medical discoveries that happened by accident. The world has benefited by penicillin for years now thanks to one of Dr. Fleming’s petri dishes that got contaminated with mold. God made that accident shine indeed, didn’t he?

Our accidents or mistakes may not have such far-reaching effect as penicillin, but isn’t it good to know that God can take our missteps—and even our sins—and make something good out of them? He is not only a great Creator, he is a great Redeemer as well. He can make us shine. And I sure do celebrate that.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” 2 Corinthians 12:9a

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out later this week. Sign up is free and to the right!

*Photo by me

*Don’t miss out on the I Love Chocolate Giveaway 2! 

Also, I’d love it if you’d come over and “like” my new Cheryl Barker, Writer page on Facebook. Thanking you in advance!

Midweek Morsel: I Love Chocolate Giveaway 2!

If ever a giveaway bears repeating, the “I Love Chocolate Giveaway”should make the cut. I have a feeling you all will heartily agree :)

So in the spirit of repeating good things, I have a $15 gift card to Godiva for one lucky commenter. To make it fun, tell me about the last chocolate dessert or treat you indulged in. Leave a comment on this post by noon CST on May 8th, and I’ll announce the winner that evening. If I don’t know you personally or cannot contact you via your blog, you must leave your email address in your comment to be eligible for the drawing. (i.e., ckbarker at gmail dot com)

I’ll kick off our chocolate confessional. I manage to eat a little bit of chocolate every day (even if it’s just a few peanut M&Ms), but the last out-of-my-ordinary chocolate treat has been the brownies with chocolate chips I made for Kelli and Jake’s visit home this past weekend. Only two remain at this point :)

Okay, your turn. Can’t wait to hear about your chocolate bliss. And by the way, may chocolate be ever in your future! :)

“God . . . richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 4:17b

*Flickr photo by nemuneko.jc

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out next week. Sign up is free and to the right!

Rain or Shine

I admit it. I’d rather be out running around on a sunshiny day than to be dodging puddles and trying to keep my glasses spot-free on a dreary, rainy day. I’ve been known to avoid water rides at theme parks, too. I guess I just don’t like getting wet :)

But while I stay holed up singing rain, rain, go away, I’ve noticed that our feathered friends don’t let a few showers get them down or sway them from their tasks.

That’s right, as long as the weather is not severe and even though they may get a little wet-for-the-wear, I still see birds out and about, singing and faithfully taking care of business—flying, looking for food, eating, working, and patrolling their territory among other things. Yes, they continue on.

Could the same be said for us when the showers of life come raining down? Do we continue on or do we easily get discouraged and pull back or even pout and give up?

Let’s consider some of the things that might discourage us from pressing on with our work, our personal growth and goals, or our walk of faith.

The answers might be different for you, but for me as a writer, I can be tempted to give up when I experience rejection or hear about more things I must do to compete in the industry. I can also be derailed by the distractions of life, burn-out, lack of support, and weariness or other physical problems. I go through periods of discouragement where blogging is concerned because my readership doesn’t grow (or even shrinks at times) and because I don’t receive much feedback.

As I consider these culprits of discouragement to my writing life, I see that some of these same factors also hamper me in my personal and spiritual pursuits. It’s hard to stay enthused when I don’t feel well or when too many demands clamor for my attention or when I feel alone. On the spiritual front, I’m also impacted by feelings of failure when I sin as well as the enemy’s ongoing tactics to defeat me.

It’s clear that all our days will not be sunny. Rain will come. Will we let circumstances or setbacks dampen our enthusiasm and keep us holed up singing rain, rain go away, or will we faithfully continue taking care of business?

Let’s not be afraid to get wet. Let’s press on—rain or shine.

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

*What do you do to battle discouragement?

*Flickr photo by net_efekt

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out next week. Sign up is free and to the right!

Midweek Morsel: Be Wildflowers

Wildflowers make the world a better place. They make a difference on this earth of ours—this earth God has created and given to us.

Wildflowers add color, beauty, and fresh life to their surroundings. Many spice up their corners of the world even more with distinctive scents. Their many species also offer variety and new discoveries when we visit places outside our own regions. In other words, they help keep life interesting.

In fact, the life of a wildflower is one we’d do well to emulate. Just think, wouldn’t it be great if, when speaking about us, other might say, “She adds such beauty and color and fresh life everywhere she goes. Her fragrance is the fragrance of Christ. There’s no one else quite like her. I love to be around her.”

What do you say? Want to make the world a better place? Want to make a difference? Let’s be wildflowers!

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

*What’s your favorite wildflower? Or what kind of wildflower would you like to be? :)

*My photo (an Indian Paintbrush taken in Grand Teton National Park)

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. Sign up is free and to the right!

Signs of Life

Spring is finally in full swing. Signs of life are everywhere—and just in the nick of time. Our season of renewal was a little later in coming than usual, and some of us in the Heartland were ready to stage a coup early this month on winter’s stubborn rule. And stubborn, indeed, it has been. It staged a final assault (we hope!) just this past week.

When looking for signs of life, naturally we notice the big ones first. Grass is turning green, weeds are attempting their annual takeover of our lawns, and leaves as well as a variety of beautiful blossoms are adding color once again to the landscape of our neighborhoods. In fact, we get giddy over green this time of year. And, of course, warmer temperatures beckon us out the door every chance we get. Oh yes, delicious spring is here.

If we look a little closer, other signs of life are stirring as well. A little over a week ago, I noticed birds beginning their nesting rituals (like in the photo above). After gathering as much dried grass as they can hold in their beaks or finding the longest straw-like weeds they can maneuver through the air, they take flight to the perfect spot they’ve chosen for their coming chicks. Just one more wonder of nature. Just another sign of life.

But you know, no matter the season, signs of life are always around us. Even in winter, we spot smoke rising from a neighbor’s chimney. Someone’s living and moving and breathing inside those four walls. We know someone’s home. We see the evidence.

Unfortunately, we are sometimes met with no signs of life. A plant or tree we’ve tended goes brown. We watch for green that never comes. A momma bird faithfully sets on eggs week after week, finally giving up and abandoning her labor of love that never hatched. The ER doctor, desperate to give the waiting family good news, works feverishly to get a heartbeat and see his patient’s chest rise with renewed breath. But alas, no signs of life.

Beyond the signs of life we see in our physical world, what signs of life should we see across the spiritual landscape of our lives? What evidence of the life of Jesus can people see in us?

Can others tell by simply watching us that the Lord is at home in us? Do they see him living and moving in us? Are they able to witness compassion, unconditional love, and forgiveness when they look our way? Will they catch a whiff of joy or gentleness or peace when they draw near?

When others stop to consider us, may they always find evidence of Jesus living in us. No matter the season, may they always find signs of life. Signs of His life.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:7

*How have you seen Jesus in someone lately?

*My photo

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. Sign up is free and to the right!