No Beauty By Accident

During a visit to Mom and Dad’s several years ago, I woke early one morning and looked out the bedroom window. Sitting on the edge of the bed, I took a few moments and basked in the beauty of their then-backyard in the lush woodland hills of Missouri. The photo above shows part of what I saw, but my camera and photography skills don’t do it justice. They had a gorgeous view that was not only a treat for the eyes but for the spirit as well.

My thought that morning as I feasted on the scene before me? Beauty doesn’t happen by accident.

That’s right. No accidents in the world of nature. There is a Creator. Whether it’s the hills of Missouri, the beaches of Mexico, or the birds that sing outside my door each day, the beauty of the world around us proclaims the handiwork of a Master Designer.

Each one of us bears his signature as well “For we are God’s workmanship…” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). And just as our outward beauty (yes, we are beautiful!) is no accident, our inner beauty doesn’t happen by accident either. The same Creator who sculpted the mountains and painted the seas will mold us into loveliness if we present ourselves to him and submit to his loving and all-wise touch.

Do we trust him? Are we ready to become the masterpiece he envisions? Let’s allow him to unleash his handiwork on the inside, too. After all, beauty doesn’t happen by accident.

“Yet, you LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 NIV

*What is beautiful about the masterpiece God has created in you?

*The current 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.

*My photo

Good Intentions Lost in the Shuffle


We’ve all been there—moments when we make mental note to carry out a certain action at a later time. A time that’s more convenient, more sensible, or simply more doable. A time when we actually have a chance to see some white space on the current page of our lives.

That’s right, sometimes we are in the midst of situations or schedules that make it next to impossible to add anything else to our to-do lists. I bet many of us are just now emerging from such a time. The month of May fills our calendars to overflowing, becoming second only to December in pushing us to our limits.

For me personally, my busy season started several months ago. In addition to the regular demands of life, some caregiving responsibilities presented themselves as I helped care for my husband after his injury and then began making trips to help take care of our twin grandbabies.

During such demanding seasons, it’s easy and natural for our good intentions—those moments when we make those mental notes—to get lost in the shuffle of life.

During one of my out-of-town trips, I received an email update from missionary friends sharing news of their rather abrupt and early retirement. I told myself I’d drop them a note later when I wasn’t on duty at baby central. After I returned home, however, it seemed to only cross my mind at other hectic times—which, of course, was nearly all the time since I was busy playing catch-up amid the normal pulse of life. I hate to admit it, but it was over six weeks before I made good on my plan to jot that note to my friends.

When we fail to carry out our good intentions—and some of them are much more critical than writing a note—we tend to get down on ourselves, but instead, let’s give ourselves some grace and then go ahead and carry out the action. Like the old adage says better late than never.

Who knows, my note arriving weeks late (in my estimation) may have come at just the time for my friends. And other good intentions, whether starting an exercise regime or investing quality time in a relationship or learning a new skill, can still be carried out regardless of the delay in getting started.

Let’s not miss out on blessing someone or being blessed because our good intentions get lost in the shuffle of life. Let’s reclaim those good intentions and remind ourselves that it’s not too late to act. Let’s live in grace and victory!

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

*Do you have any good intentions you need to reclaim?

*Flickr photo by m4r00n3d, Creative Commons License

Focusing on Second Best and Missing the Gold


Photographers—even hobbyists like me—are always on the lookout for photographic gold. You know what I’m talking about. The shots that make the one behind the camera say yes and grin like a Cheshire cat while those later viewing the photos say “Wow” as they experience wonder, joy, peace, or any number of other reactions. Good photographs move us, don’t they?

I find much of my photographic gold in wildlife shots, especially birds. Why birds? Mainly because they’re plentiful here in town where I live. But they are also beautiful and amazing creations of God.

The sanctuary I’ve created for my winged neighbors by providing a backyard bird feeder and bird bath gives me the opportunity to focus on several different visitors on most days. Many of the birds are the ordinary varieties of our region, but every now and then I spot more interesting or seldom-seen-by-me birds stopping by for a snack or a quick refresher at the bird bath.

In my zeal to capture photos of my backyard visitors, sometimes I’ve almost missed seeing an unusual bird because I was so focused on getting shots of the more visible, ordinary birds that stop by. I’ve sometimes missed the photographic gold while focusing on the second best. And boy, do I ever kick myself when that happens.

Missing the gold while focusing on second best can happen in more spheres than just photography, can’t it? Do we perhaps miss the gold of building relationship or memories while doing one more chore or checking off another item on our to-do list from work? Do we spend our spare time pursuing a hobby rather than spending time with an elderly parent or friend? Do we miss time with God while opting instead to stay in bed for another thirty minutes?

Let’s look sharp for the extraordinary in our lives. Let’s not spend so much time focusing on second best that we only catch a fleeting glimpse of the true treasure. Let’s not miss the gold.

“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better . . .’” Luke 10:41-42a

*When have you missed the gold while focusing on second best?

*My photo

Balm to a Broken Heart


It’s no secret to most of you that I’ve been dealing with a broken heart the past few weeks. For those who don’t know, I lost my mom unexpectedly a few weeks ago as a result of injuries she sustained in a car accident.

My heart—and the hearts of our entire family—also sustained injury. They’ve been pierced and torn in two by the grief of losing Mom. My poem “Fragile” gave a glimpse into what that grief has looked like in my life and how God is helping me through it.

Today I’d like to tell you how God has applied balm to my broken heart and show you what it has looked like. It has looked like you. It has looked like every person who has reached out to me and my family in love.

Yes, God has ministered to me through his Word and through music, but the main avenue of healing balm has come through caring people—through words and gestures of concern and love.

Every word, every touch has been balm to my broken heart. Some of you came to be with us, to stand with us, to listen to us, to cry with us. Others sent cards or plants or flowers. Some gave practical gifts like food, stamps, and cash. And countless others showed their support and promises of prayer through comments and “likes” on Facebook or here on my blog. Each gesture has given comfort.

Thank you, friends, for showing your love and support. If you’ve ever wondered if a few words or a card or a comment on Facebook can help someone who is grieving, let me assure you they can. Each one makes a difference.

So join me, won’t you? Let’s be balm to the broken hearts around us. Let’s make a difference.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

*When has God used others to apply balm to your hurting heart?

*Flickr photo by Nina Matthews Photography, Creative Commons License

*It’s not too late to receive the new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter. It’s a special Advent issue this time. Sign-up is free and to the right!

Wound Care 101 Revisited


*This encore presentation of a post from 2008 will probably be new to most of you. Hope it blesses you!

Flip-flops are the perfect fun footwear — that is until you whack your toes on a hard, immovable object. Yes, leave it to me to find another way to injure myself. Don’t ask me how it happened. I’m not really sure. I wasn’t even walking fast. In fact, I was just taking a few steps across my office when my bare foot, clad only in one of my fave Old Navy flip-flops, met its match with the sharp metal bottom of the dehumidifier. The same dehumidifier, I might add, that’s been in the same spot for years. Go figure.

When the groans subsided from the initial blast of pain, I bent down to survey the damage. Two toes had been hit, and one was bleeding. Nothing major, but it wasn’t going to stop on its own. This was a job for Band-Aids. And since the toe was scraped at top and bottom both, it would take two of the sticky cure-alls to do the trick. I found out right away that binding up a toe when it’s hurting and surrounded by toes on either side (and one of those also whacked) is no easy job.

Today? A little swelling and bruising and just enough tenderness to make me ever conscious of keeping my foot well away from another object. If I had been just half as protective of my foot yesterday, I wouldn’t be groaning at the prospect of wearing shoes today. It was just one of those things I didn’t expect, though. I never saw it coming.

Sometimes life has a way of whacking us, too, doesn’t it? Out of the blue and in the blink of an eye, we are thrust into situations that leave us reeling from pain and gasping for emotional air. Someone we love, someone we trust, levels some words at us that cut us to the core. Or we get that dreaded phone call that forever changes our lives as we know them. Or we find out we’re no longer needed… at our job, in our marriage, by a friend.

As we survey the damage, we see that we are bleeding. But this time, it’s from the heart. And the pain is too deep to tend to it ourselves. We need our Savior’s help, His comfort. We need His healing touch.

If you are hurting today, I encourage you to call on the Great Physician. He will tend to your wound. He will pay attention to it. He will guard and protect it. Remember, He stands ready to help. Nothing catches Him by surprise.

“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 KJV

*How has God tended to your wounds when life has whacked you?

*Flickr photo by _rockinfree