A Prayer for Finishing Strong

Do you know someone trying to finish a project or reach a goal? Maybe a family member just about to graduate from high school or college or trying to complete an advanced degree? Or perhaps some of your teacher friends are trying to hang in there the last few weeks of the school year.

You may even be in the trying-to-finish category yourself right now. I know I am. The manuscript for my Christmas devotional book is due to the publisher on August 1 so I’m in the last stages of writing, editing, and polishing it. I’ve had several challenges to overcome in getting this far, and I need to keep pressing on until the job is complete and I’ve done the best I can do.

Those who are trying to finish a race right now probably need some encouragement and moral support, don’t they?

Join me, won’t you, in a prayer for all who are trying to finish strong:

Dear Lord, you are a finisher. You came to earth with a task to do and you completed it. You are also busy completing the good works you began in each of us. Help us, Lord, as we push on to finish the tasks you’ve set before us.

Help us to not grow weary or distracted or discouraged. Please grant us the energy, the drive, and the skill needed to finish strong. And help us remember, Lord, to offer thanks and give you glory as we cross our finish lines. We need you, Lord, and can’t do it without you. Thank you for your help!

“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51 NIV

*Are you trying to finish strong right now? May our prayers encourage you today!

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is FREE. *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 Loco Races, Creative Commons License

Theme Word 2024: Balance

“. . . it’s a matter of striking a balance.” 2 Cor 8:13 GW

What does starting a new year mean for you? For me, it means it’s time to focus on a new theme word. I’ve never been big into New Year’s resolutions, but this is the twelfth year now I’ve chosen a theme word to help guide me through the year. It’s a practice I highly recommend. I can honestly say it has benefited me year after year.

The word the Lord impressed on my heart for 2024? Balance. I never know all that the Lord has in mind when guiding me to a new word, but this year maintaining balance in my life seems especially important.

My responsibilities and the demands on my time have been much greater for quite some time with my husband’s Alzheimer’s impacting our lives, but I’m also still working part-time as a writer and author (with a new book contract and all that entails too.) I’m also continuing to serve as president of the Fellowship of Christian Writers group I belong to. Throw in trying to be an involved grandmother to two sets of twin boys along with maintaining other family and church involvement, and as you can imagine, my to-do list never gets caught up.

With all that in mind, I need God’s guidance, wisdom, and help in maintaining the balance he wants me to have. One that will not shortchange special times or moments spent with my husband as I try to fulfill my other responsibilities and desires. But also one that allows me to keep those things going in a way that brings glory to God. So yes, balance is what I need right now. Balance as God guides. And as the year unfolds, I may find that God has even more applications for balance in store.

If you haven’t done so yet, why not choose a theme word for 2024? I can guarantee that having an over-arching word—a quality, an attitude, or an action—to focus on will help give you direction and help you grow throughout the year. 

You’re welcome to join me in focusing on balance—it’s something we all need, isn’t it? But I encourage you to give it some thought and prayer first. God may have another word in mind for you. Why not ask him? He is faithful to guide!

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 NIV

*What is your theme word or anchor verse for 2024? I’d love to know!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. 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! 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

A Time for Everything—Even A Time to Hide

“When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.” John 12:36 NIV

Ever have times when you feel like hiding?  I bet we all do—and we’re in good company. The apostle John tells us that Jesus hid too.

The instance in the scripture above took place in Jerusalem during the week before Jesus’s crucifixion. While speaking to a crowd, he predicted his death and encouraged the people to “‘Believe in the light . . . so that you may become sons of light,’” (first half of v.36). Then he left and hid from them.

We aren’t told why Jesus hid from the people at this time. Maybe he needed a break from the crowd surrounding him daily. Or possibly he was trying to prevent an uproar that could lead to his death before the time was right. He might have wanted the people to have time to consider what he’d just said. Whatever the reason, Jesus saw the importance or felt the need to hide.

An oft-quoted passage from the Bible tells us that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”(Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV) If Jesus saw that there was indeed a time to hide, should we not secret ourselves away at times as well?

So when should we hide away—either from everyone, those outside our closest circle, or maybe just from our work environment?

One instance might be when we’re in serious need of rest or refreshment. Another could be when we need some time to focus on a certain project, person, or aspect of our lives. There may even come a time when we need a period of healing or a season when we need to hide for protection. And we always benefit when we take time to hide away with the Lord, through daily time in prayer and the Word and also in extended times alone with him.

I wonder if it’s a time to hide for any of us right now. Can we sense the importance of such a time? Do we feel the need? Let’s remember that there is indeed a time for everything. Yes, even a time to hide.

“. . . hide me in the shadow of your wings” Psalm 17:8 NIV

*When was the last time you hid? Why did you do it? What resulted? Do you need to hide now?

*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. *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 It’s No Game, Creative Commons License

Patience Acrostic: 2023 Theme Word Refresher

**I will be taking a blogging break the rest of this month. See you back here in early August!

A few years ago I wrote an acrostic as a refresher for my theme word that year, and I enjoyed the exercise so much I’ve done it each year since then. 

For me, the creative exercise of writing acrostics is an excellent way to go deeper in my consideration of my theme words each year. Doing so helps me think of different aspects of the word.

As I remind myself of and reflect on my 2023 theme word patience, I pray you find something to help you grow in patience as well. Or if you chose a theme word of your own this year, maybe you will be inspired to do something similar with your word too. Whatever the case, friends, may you be blessed and encouraged as you read!

Place your worries, concerns, and stresses in the hands of God.

Ask the Holy Spirit to grow this fruit that helps you wait and show peace and kindness.

Think before you act, speak, or make decisions.

Incline your ear to the Lord, listening for his guidance and waiting on his timing.

End selfish hurry and go slowly and calmly when needed.

Narrow and trim your list of obligations to reduce your stress levels.

Call to the Lord when frustration and anger bubble up.

Endeavor to see the big picture and the blessings and growth that result from waiting, trusting, and acting in love.

being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,” Colossians 1:11 NIV

*When is it most difficult for you to show patience?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE. *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.

A Time to Abandon Plans and Move On

Remember how I told you in May about the robin I saw several years ago who stayed focused and built her nest in spite of my interloping presence? Unfortunately, the story didn’t end there. Something went wrong a few weeks later.

I’m not sure what happened. She faithfully sat on her eggs during the height of that summer’s heat wave. She watched over her nest and tongue-lashed other birds who came too close. When she wasn’t in the nest, she never seemed far away or gone for long.

When we left for vacation, I wondered if the sound of baby birds would greet us on our return. But it didn’t—no cheep-cheep-cheeps could be heard. No little upturned beaks gaped wide for a meal from momma.

Instead, momma bird was there, still faithfully sitting on the nest, still panting through the heat. I was glad I’d be on hand for the hatching. Glad I’d get to witness the birth of new life.

But one morning a few days after our return, the momma bird wasn’t in her nest. I thought it odd but not too unusual. When I checked that evening, again she was gone.

The next day the empty nest met me once more as I made my rounds. Now I feared something was indeed wrong. No sight of the momma bird in the days that followed confirmed my suspicions. The nest had been abandoned.

What would cause such a faithful and focused momma to walk away—or fly away, as in this case? More than likely, something happened to the eggs. Maybe some sort of predator got them, but I also wonder if the unrelenting heat we had that summer was the culprit. What a disappointment—for the momma bird and for me as well.

Poor momma bird. If the problem was the heat, I wonder how long past the normal time she waited, hoping to see her babies pecking their way out into the world. I wonder how many hot days she soldiered through, doing all in her power to succeed. I wonder how she knew it was time to move on.

Some of us have had plans and projects that didn’t work out. A few of us may be in the midst of one right now. We’ve worked faithfully and done all we know to do. We’ve kept trying and we’ve waited—and then waited some more.

We finally reach a point when we know it’s over, when we know it’s time to move on. Our hearts, heavy with the disappointment of an unfulfilled dream, sometimes want to cling to the pain and nurse our wounds. And that’s okay for a time. But like the momma bird, we need to abandon the dashed plans and move forward to what life has to offer now.

We’ll certainly learn from the experience and grow stronger, but for now—for today—it’s time to lift our eyes to the future and fly away.

“I lift my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2 NIV

*Have you ever had to fly away from one of your hopes or dreams? Did a future blessing await you?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE. *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.

*My photo