Enduring Secret Pain

We’ve all done it—masked our pain with a smile. We force a lilt to our voices or answer a “how are you doing” with a fake “fine”. We suffer a private, secret pain that we’re unable or unwilling to share with anyone outside our closest circle of family or friends—and sometimes not even them— for any number of reasons.

Our hearts are breaking, but we have to carry on a life-as-usual façade to keep questions at bay and protect our own or someone else’s privacy. The time may come to share the struggle, but that time is not now. For now, we wipe our eyes and steel our hearts as we venture outside our homes and face the world beyond. We can only hope that we’re met with kindness instead of more difficulty.

Does it dawn on us that others may be doing the same? Especially during periods when heartache is not our companion, do we remember that someone we meet during the day may be struggling to keep her composure while walking on shaky emotional legs?

When we take a moment to remember that, a moment to look beyond the automatic smile for the public, we’ll want to be a little kinder in our interactions with one another. We’ll want to add an extra measure of warmth to our smiles or a soothing touch to our voices. We’ll want to make sure the people who cross our paths are met with kindness.

Let’s never forget the secret pains we’ve endured. Let’s remember and extend a loving touch—even if just for a moment—to those who may be in the midst of such heartache today.

And if you’re among those bearing a secret pain right now, know that God sees you. He cares. May this post be his loving touch to your hurting heart today.

“When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’” Luke 7:13 NIV

*Has anyone unwittingly touched you with kindness during a time of secret pain? How did he or she do it?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. 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.) Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

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

*Flickr photo by seyed mostafa zamani, Creative Commons License

Sow in Tears, Reap with Joy

“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” Psalm 126:5-6 NIV

What does it mean to sow in tears? I’m sure there’s more than one way to interpret these verses, but one thing I think of as I read them is prayer.

We sow seed as we pray for those who have never come to faith in Christ. We sow as we pray for those who have drifted away from God and as we pray for the needs of our churches. But how earnestly do we intercede for these deep needs?

When was the last time our tears flowed or we experienced internal anguish as we prayed for a family member, a friend, or someone else’s loved one to give his or her heart to the Lord? Or to come back to him? When was the last time we wept over a people group deluded by a false religion? When was the last time we sowed in tears? I admit these questions convict me, and I wonder if they do you as well.

If we’re not careful, our prayers can be half-hearted or superficial. To sow in tears we must take time to care. We must open our hearts and love people. If we do this, their separation from God will surely drive us to our knees—and to tears.

So yes, when we care, we will feel sorrow, but the Word tells us we will also “reap with songs of joy.” And when it comes to the salvation or restoration of a soul, one song of joy will be worth a thousand tears.

“I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people . . .” Romans 9:2-3 NIV

*When have you reaped with songs of joy after sowing in tears for someone?

*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.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*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 MarLeah JoyCreative Commons License

Wait—The Blessing Is On the Way

Are any of you still waiting for a blessing you hoped would come last month, last year, or even earlier? Are you waiting for an answer to prayer you felt certain would have unfolded by now? If so, don’t feel alone. I’m waiting, too.

It’s hard when God’s answers to our desires and dreams are “no” or “wait”. As we wait for the blessing to come, questions can niggle at our minds. Does God hear my prayers? Why doesn’t he answer? Doesn’t he care about me? Is he punishing me for something? We may even feel like he’s forgotten us.

I won’t presume to explain why God’s answers are what they are in your life or mine, but we’re all acquainted with the character growth that can take place as we learn to wait on him and trust him in every circumstance. However, knowing growth will come doesn’t necessarily make the wait any easier, does it?

Maybe an example from scripture about a delayed answer could provide some encouragement or fresh insight as to why we may have to wait at times.

In the tenth chapter of Daniel, we read that God had given Daniel a revelation, but Daniel didn’t understand it. He prayed and mourned for three weeks, asking God to give him understanding of the vision. At the end of the three weeks, Daniel had another vision of a man, a messenger from God (an angel or possibly even Jesus), who came to give him God’s answer.

The man told Daniel, “Since the first day . . . your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” (10:12 NIV) He went on to tell him that a demon had resisted him for twenty-one days. One of the chief angels came to help him, though, and the man was now there to give Daniel the understanding he sought from God.

From this passage we see that sometimes delays to our prayers happen because of struggles and battles going on in the spiritual realm. This may not be the reason for your current season of waiting on God, but it could be a possibility.

Whatever the reason you find yourself in God’s waiting room, take heart. He hasn’t forgotten you. He hears you. And the answer—the blessing—is on the way.

“‘When you first started praying, an answer was given . . .’” Daniel 9:23 NCV

*What blessings have you seen in your life after waiting on God?

*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.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

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

*Flickr photo by mmartinsson, Creative Commons License

Called to Pray: An Acrostic to Ignite and Guide Your Prayers

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”  Ephesians 6:18  NIV

Friends, be blessed as you consider my acrostic highlighting various aspects of prayer. I pray it will ignite and guide your prayers!

Pour out your heart, plead for the lost, praise God’s holy name, prove your love by spending

time with him, persevere in the face of doubt, and patiently wait for his answers.

Repent of sin in your life, receive God’s forgiveness and love, resist the devil at all times,

renew your relationship with the Lord daily, remember the needs of others, and rest in the presence

of God.

Admit your need, abide in God’s grace, adore him in word and song, answer his call,

affirm your devotion to him, approach him in childlike trust, acknowledge his

sovereignty, and always thank him for His blessings.

Yesterday’s sins remember no more, yield every area of your life to God, yonder glimpse your

heavenly home, yoke your heart to his, yearn to see him face to face, yet rejoice daily

in knowing him now.

*Which of these aspects of prayer do you most need in your life right now?

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out yesterday. 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.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Let Your Life Provide a Well-Paved Path for Others

Pain. Grief. Weakness. Limitations. None of us welcome these unwanted visitors—especially when they take up long-term residence in our lives. Each one causes distress in its own way. And let’s be honest. We all do our best to avoid distress whenever possible.

We don’t like to hurt. We don’t like to fail or find ourselves unable to do certain things. But as we live in these places of pain, we grow and learn lessons. We develop a deep empathy for others experiencing similar sorrows. Each of our painful places has the potential to become a well-paved path to another hurting soul.

In the New Testament, we see that the apostle Paul experienced pain, hardship, and limitations time and again. And while we may feel the chains of weakness and limitations in our lives, Paul dealt with literal chains during the times he was imprisoned for the sake of the gospel.

He didn’t give in to discouragement during those imprisonments though. While shackled and suffering, Paul saw the good that came from his chains. In his letter to the Philippians (1:14 NIV), he said, “And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”

Surely our chains of pain, grief, weakness, or limitations serve to encourage others as well. Other struggling folks might very well be inspired to persevere through their own trials as they see how God strengthens us in ours.

Whether reaching out to hurting souls going through similar situations as our own or being a beacon of hope and encouragement through the witness of our lives, let’s allow our painful places to result in good. Let’s let our lives be well-paved paths.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV

*When did someone provide a well-paved path for you? Our family is currently undergoing a trial that will certainly allow us to encourage and comfort others in the future. Our daughter Kelli is having surgery for breast cancer today. We’d be so grateful for your prayers. 

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out Feb. 2nd. 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