Surrounded by the Lord

“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.” Psalm 125:2 NIV

I love this verse. After rediscovering it several years ago, I personalized it and made it part of my early morning prayer each day. Before even getting out of bed, I gave the Lord my day and placed my times in his hands. Then along with a few basic requests, I added, “And Lord, as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so surround me with your peace and your protection.”

Sometimes the thought of being surrounded brings up negative images, but that’s certainly not the case here. Not for me—not when it’s the Lord doing the surrounding.

I suppose if someone didn’t love the Lord or was trying to run or hide from him, it would be a frightening prospect to be surrounded by the Almighty. But for those who know and love him and look to him for help, great comfort lies in the precious knowledge of his surrounding presence and care.

The image of mountains, so strong and protective, surrounding a little town paints the perfect picture of what the Lord does for us, his people. The Lord stands guard, ever watchful, ever ready to protect and guide. He provides majesty and beauty, adventure and stability. He keeps us nestled in his peace as we look to him.

Each day let’s picture ourselves surrounded by the Lord. Let’s relax in his care. Let’s snuggle down into that place of peace he has reserved for us. Let’s fix our eyes on him. Let’s be surrounded by his peace.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121 NIV

*When have you felt supernaturally surrounded by God’s peace?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. *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 It’s No Game, Creative Commons License

Wedding Invitations: Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

2392325187_153e371099_zMother of the Bride, I have some very important advice for you today: Be sure to proofread the copy for the wedding invitation very carefully before sending it off to the printer. And after you’ve proofread it once, proof it again—and again. Oh, and did I mention proofreading it? You get the idea, right?

As you might have guessed, my oldest daughter and I had a proofreading fail while planning her wedding. Talk about a sinking feeling when we discovered the mistake—yes, on the actual invitations.

We had both proofread the invitation copy before sending it to the printer, but we still missed seeing a misspelling. Since our eyes were familiar with the name, they evidently sailed right past it as we read the copy. We failed to look the copy over very slowly and very carefully. And yes, it cost us. Lesson learned.

So, MOB, learn from our mistake and proofread like crazy. Both you and the bride proofread the invitation multiple times and then ask someone else to proofread it, too. Believe me, being a stickler for details this time will save you valuable dollars and an extra helping of stress. Here’s to no invitation mistakes as you plan for the big day!

*You might also like to read A Keepsake Photo of the Wedding Invitation.

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

*Flickr photo by Jase the Bass, Creative Commons License

Gift Yourself and Take the Easy Route

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*Since the readership of the Mother of the Bride Blog is ever-changing, here is an encore post that I hope will be helpful to those of you who weren’t MOBs when I originally posted it in June of 2013. May this post help you take it easy at times, MOB!

Mother of the Bride, if you’re like I was, you’re all about saving a dollar or two (or ten!) every chance you get, right? Your mental calculator runs non-stop, causing you to continually feel the pressure of mounting expenses. You begin to look for every way you can to save a little money. But you know what? Sometimes it’s not worth it.

My first time around the MOB block, I decided we should forgo the pre-cut tulle circles that we wanted to use for making the favors—little bags of chocolate candies tied with pretty ribbon. In an attempt to save some dollars, I decided we could cut our own circles of tulle.

Big mistake. At a time when both the bride and I had more to do than we had time, we had to push ourselves even more. Believe it or not, the tulle circle-cutting fairies did not show up at nighttime to cut the circles for us.

My decision to cut costs ended up costing us in other ways—in time, in stress, and in weariness. The dollars saved were definitely not worth it.

Learn from my mistake, dear MOB. Carefully weigh all the costs before making more work for yourself. Sometimes the best thing you can do is gift yourself and take the easy route.

*You might also like to read A Simple Wedding Expense Tip, Mothers of the Bride Need Prayer, and Gather Photos Early for Wedding Day Slide Show.

*Flickr photo by FutUnBeidl, Creative Commons License

What We Can Do When Grief Is Compounded

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We’ve all been there—smack dab in the middle of a conversation or situation that compounds a heavy grief we’re bearing.

Remarks are made that drive a knife deeper into an open wound. People may offer trite words or pat answers that may, in fact, be true, but do nothing but make the pain sharper because of their lack of understanding. Some may even make comments with an edge—with an implication of how we should get over the situation or fix it or how we possibly could have prevented it to start with. The knife goes in deeper.

Other times, actions are taken—or not taken—that show a lack of sensitivity and understanding. After asking how we’re doing, someone glances at his watch repeatedly as we try to share our stories. Another knife in the heart. Sometimes our heartache is ignored—we are ignored—when people, unsure of what to say or do, carry on as if nothing is wrong. In the process, these unwitting but guilty parties compound our grief as well.

So what can we do when our grief is compounded, when the pain is made worse? How can we turn it into something positive? A few things come to mind:

  1. We can give grace. We can forgive. Chances are, the offender doesn’t even realize the pain his remarks or actions caused. Let’s give the benefit of the doubt and overlook the offense. And if the person should have known better, we can still forgive. We can remember how God has forgiven us time and again and offer the same mercy ourselves.
  1. We can learn from the situation. Any time and every time our grief is compounded, we can make a mental note to avoid such remarks or actions in our own dealings with those who are hurting. We can guard against compounding others’ grief in the future.
  1. We can educate and enlighten others. We can share the lessons we’ve learned during our season of grief as opportunities arise. Depending on the situation and the people involved, it might even be appropriate and helpful to let an offender know how his actions or words caused hurt.
  1. We can draw closer to God as we handle the hurt. We can go to God with every fresh heartache. We can tell him all about it. In his arms we’ll find comfort and understanding. We can see the hurtful situation as one more opportunity to go deeper in our relationship with God.

Grief compounded doesn’t have to win, doesn’t have to have the final say. God can help us even through this. God can redeem the pain-made-worse. Let’s allow him to do so.

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

*What are some ways we can avoid compounding the grief of others?

 *Flickr photo by Thomas Leuthard, Creative Commons License

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