Midweek Morsel: A Missed Opportunity’s Blessing

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From time to time, I’ve been known to break one of the cardinal rules of any self-respecting photo-taking enthusiast—keep your camera battery charged at all times. None of us wants to be caught with a dead camera when a photo opp presents itself, but alas, I’ve found myself in that very position at times.

I’ve reached for my camera to try to capture a photo of a neat backyard bird sighting and have immediately discovered my oversight. Darn. Dad-gum-it. I failed to charge the battery during the night. And then I proceed to mentally kick myself until I see that that’s not going to change a thing.

But you know what? In the midst of one of my missed photo opportunities, I realized a different kind of blessing awaited. Since I wasn’t busy snapping photos of the birds, I had the chance to simply watch them. Instead of focusing on taking photos, I fully savored the moment and reveled in the beauty of the scene.

So next time we mess up and miss an opportunity, let’s remember to look for a different blessing that might be right in front of us. Let’s take advantage of the new opportunity.

“Be joyful always . . . give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18

*When have you discovered a different kind of blessing in the midst of a missed opportunity?

*My photo

Holding On To Faith

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When tragedy strikes or disappointment pays us repeated visits, when waiting is our portion and seems to have no end, what happens to our faith in God then?

Do we crack under the pressure of a painful trial and turn away from God or do we lift our eyes once more to him? Are we faithful to declare our trust again, even though our hearts are bruised and battered?

Sometimes continuing to trust and believe is a struggle—sometimes all we can do is hold on by our fingertips. We all face times—and if we haven’t yet, we someday will—when our hurt and disappointment are so great that hanging on to our faith becomes a sheer act of will. We don’t feel like believing, but we choose to believe God anyway. Based on the truth of his Word and his past faithfulness, we choose to hold on to our faith in him.

Our daughter and son-in-law have had their faith tested again and again the past several years as they’ve endured what seems to be an unending wait to become parents. They’ve chosen—and we’ve chosen, too, as we hurt along with them—to hold on to our faith, to continue to trust God and his perfect plan. Time and again, we’ve all had to ask do we trust God 100 percent?

Is your faith being tested now? Are you feeling bruised and battered? If you’re at a painful crossroads and trying to decide whether to walk away or lift your eyes and heart to God again, I pray that he will give you the strength to choose faith again. I pray that you will trust him 100 percent. He hurts with you. He waits with you. He’ll carry you through.

“. . . let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” Hebrews 4:14b

*How has God carried you through when you’ve chosen to trust in him?

*Flickr Photo by Joseph Ma. Rosell, Creative Commons License

Wedding Day Tip: A List for the Photographer

Mother of the Bride, last week I told you one way to avoid disappointment over the wedding flowers, and today I have a tip on how to sidestep a potential disappointment with photos from the big day. Since wedding photography is one of the major expenses for the wedding, you definitely want to do anything you can to insure that both you and the happy couple will be satisfied with the once-in-a-lifetime photos from their special day.

One of the best things you can do to avoid disappointment with the photos is to give a list of must-have shots to your professional photographer. Don’t assume he or she will automatically take all the shots you think are standard. Don’t expect him to be a mind-reader, MOB. Some couples and their parents have a very traditional vision of what their photos should include while others want to take a more casual or photo-journalistic type approach.

Be specific. Don’t just say family shots. List the specific family shots you want. Also be sure to tell him that in addition to the list, you want him to be as creative as possible and capture unexpected, fun, and tender moments whenever and wherever he can.

As you compile your list, MOB, think outside the box—think of some of the great photo opps that might present themselves at the wedding that are unique to you and your family and friends.The photographer will not magically know to take a photo of you with your very best friends. He won’t know that the newlyweds want a shot of all their college friends together.

Do a little photography preparation, MOB, and you’ll come much closer to being pleasantly surprised with the results instead of unhappy over missed shots. Take full advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime event—make your list!

*Check this out—another Wedding Weekend Photography Tip

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out Feb. 3rd. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by Elvert Barnes, Creative Commons License

Day Before Wedding Tip: Preview Flowers

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Mother of the Bride, do you and your daughter want to avoid one potential for big disappointment on Wedding Day? Make arrangements with your florist to preview the wedding flowers the day before the big event.

You don’t want to arrive at the church just a few hours before the wedding and find that a mistake has been made on the type of flowers requested for the bridal bouquet or that the florist completely missed your vision for the altar flowers. You don’t want to be short on corsages or boutonnieres.

Previewing the flowers may not be convenient on the already jam-packed decorating day prior to the wedding, but it’s a safeguard you need to make time for. You may not be able to avoid some things that go wrong on Wedding Day, but disappointment with the flowers is one thing you can fix before it happens.

I didn’t know to do a preview when Kristin, our first daughter, got married, and she ended up unhappy with her bridal bouquet. She had requested a white rose bouquet with a few little yellow touches in it. But when we got to the church and saw the bouquet, we discovered that the florist had gone overboard with yellow. Kristin was so disappointed. I know now it could have been altered if we’d seen the bouquet the afternoon before.

Even when planning our second daughter’s wedding, I still didn’t realize that previewing the flowers the day before the wedding was done in the floral business, but Kelli’s florist himself asked that we come by and give final approval, even if some of the flowers might not be finished. This is when you know you’ve got a good florist, MOB. A good florist doesn’t want any misunderstanding. He or she wants everyone happy on Wedding Day.

So go ahead and add a quick preview of the flowers to your day-before-wedding schedule now, Mother of the Bride. You’ll be glad you did.

*So tell me, what kind of flowers has your daughter chosen for her bridal bouquet? There are some gorgeous ones out there!

*Photo by Will Flowers

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out Feb. 3rd. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

Failing To Reach a Goal

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I failed to reach some of my goals last year—and a couple of them were high on my list. Anyone else have the same experience? No one likes to fall short of achieving her goals, but since my theme word for 2013 was finish, this particular falling short stings a little more than usual.

The biggest goal I failed to reach last year was finishing my book. I almost made it, but I didn’t quite complete the task. I finished writing it, revising it, and sending it through to my critique group, but I didn’t get the final edit and polish done by year’s end.

As mid-year arrived, I was on track and felt confident that I would finish the project so I put it on hold during the summer. I didn’t even want to attempt a final read-through while my husband was on his summer break and life was more hectic than usual. I would finish it in the fall when I could concentrate without so many distractions.

What I didn’t fully anticipate was the amount of time and work it took to be ready to attend a writers conference in late September. Nor did I realize that the writing advice I would get there would show me that my manuscript needed more work than what I had been planning on. The final read through I thought I’d do turned into another edit and polish.

And then life happened as well. Within days after submitting my book proposal and polished sample chapters in mid-October to agents and an editor who had expressed interest at the conference, my mom was in a car accident. Shocked and heartbroken, we watched her die a few days later.

In November, in the midst of grief, I got back to work on the manuscript, but I also had the good fortune of being offered representation by a literary agency while another agent also showed interest. I had to take time to communicate with the interested agents, pray, research, and contact other authors the agency represented to find out what their experiences thus far had been like.

All of this helped me achieve another goal of signing with an agent, but my work on the manuscript was interrupted again. And then of course, the last two weeks of December was devoted to family and Christmas break. Year’s end came, and alas, I had failed to achieve my goal of finishing my book.

I know I’m not alone in failing to reach a goal—so what do we do when it happens? If you’re like me, you’ll kick yourself for quite awhile. After all, it’s natural to feel aggravated at yourself and disappointed with missing your mark. But after we work through our initial discouragement, what do we do then?

The way I see it, we have three choices. 1) We can walk away in defeat and abandon the goal altogether  2) we can pick ourselves up and keep going for it or  3) we can reevaluate and see if we need to alter the goal in some way or perhaps break it up into more manageable pieces.

Which will you choose when you fail to reach a goal? I choose to press on. The goal is worth achieving, and I’m almost there. Distractions and roadblocks will most certainly keep occurring for all of us, but if we persevere and call on God for help or for guidance in reevaluating, success will surely come—even if it’s not what we first envisioned. Let’s not walk away in defeat. Let’s press on.

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

*How do you stay determined to reach your goals?

*Flickr photo by Omer Unlu, Creative Commons License

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