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

Focus Helps Us Finish

Focus. A word that most of us need to say to ourselves time and again, right? As a writer, I have to remind myself to focus repeatedly in order to stay on task with my main projects. And that rings true for most projects and goals we have in life.

I witnessed the perfect example of staying focused several years ago. I got to watch a bird build a nest one morning. The photo above is of that very bird at work.

I had taken my camera outside, hoping to spot a photo-worthy sight. I wasn’t disappointed. I spied a robin building her nest in a neighbor’s tree. Lucky for me, it was on a lower branch that overhangs our yard.

As the bird worked steadily, I approached more and more closely, unable to believe how close she actually let me get. It was almost as if she had blinders on. Nothing distracted her from the all-important task at hand.

She even seemed to work in rhythm. She flew to the ground, seeking out the next twig or blade of dried grass to include in her newest home, and then with her latest find grasped safely in her beak, she’d fly back up to her nest-in-progress and place it just so, tamping it down and forming it to her specifications. If she gave my interloping presence any thought, she didn’t let it show. She just worked on.

The qualities that enabled my feathered example to finish her project will help me complete my work as a writer as well. Steady work, ignoring distractions, finding a rhythm that works, using the best materials, skilled craftsmanship, and perseverance will all work together to help me create written works that can touch the lives of others. You may not be a writer, but I’m sure these same qualities help you complete your work successfully as well.

Focus. A quality we need day in and day out. Next time we get distracted or feel tempted to give up on our projects or dreams, let’s remember my little mentor with wings. Let’s keep working on too!

“Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.” 2 Corinthians 8:11 NIV

*Where do you need focus 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 today. 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.

*My photo

Theme Word 2021: Serve

Yes, Virginia, I still select an annual theme word. I know I’m a little late posting it this year, but instead of kicking off the year earlier in January with my theme word post, I decided to share a blessing post. I thought that was more appropriate given the fact we as a nation—and a world—have never been so glad to see a new year arrive. If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you’ll take a minute to give it a quick read. I think it will indeed bless you!

But yes, for me, starting a new year means it’s time to focus on a new theme word. This is the 10th year I’ve chosen a special word for the year. I’ve never been big into New Year’s resolutions but instead I decide on 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 time and again.

Serve was the word the Lord kept bringing to my attention near the end of last year so serve it is for 2021. I never know what all the Lord has in mind when guiding me to a new word, but I do think he wants me to continue to serve and bless others through the written word. Also I’m filling a new role this year as I serve as the chaplain for my writers group. I wonder what else God has in store? I guess I’ll find out as the year unfolds!

If you haven’t done so yet, why not choose a theme word for 2021? 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. And that is always a good thing, isn’t it?

But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” 1 Samuel 12:24 NIV

*Do you have a theme word or anchor verse for 2021? Please share!

*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 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.) p.s. If you sign up after Jan. 29th, you will be included in all future Life Notes giveaways but not in this current giveaway.

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

*Photo by Austin Kehmeier on Unsplash

Climbing Towards a Goal


“With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.” Psalm 18:29

I’ve been on the climb the past few years—scaling the wall toward traditional book publication. I’m not there yet, but I’m closer to having a shot than when I first started working towards my goal.

Thank goodness, I’m not making the climb on my own. God is scaling the wall with me. He’s providing guidance, the ideas and skill I need, and the strength to persevere as well as helping me connect with others in the writing world. He’s also blessed me with the support of family and friends.

I’ve had to put in the work, though. I’ve spent untold hours working to become a better writer. I’ve invested money in going to writers conferences where I can continue to learn and network. I’ve plunged into unfamiliar waters, taking steps to build my platform to reach readers. Yep, I’ve had to do the work.

Each step I’ve taken has been a step up the wall. I started my blog several years ago. Step. Joined the FCW writers group. Step. Attended my first writers conference. Step. Started publishing Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter. Step. Joined Facebook a few years ago and then just recently started my Cheryl Barker, Writer page there, too . Step, step. Became part of the FCW online critique group. Step. Launched my new website, started the Mother of the Bride Blog, and joined Pinterest all in one fell swoop. Step, step, step.

Believe it or not, these are just a few of the steps I’ve taken. And, of course, during it all, I’ve been writing. I’ve been submitting pieces for publication. And I won’t lie—it takes a lot of perseverance. I’ve experienced a lot of rejection. But the Lord has also rewarded my efforts with publication at times.

I’ve relied on God’s help and direction each step of the way. He has graciously provided technical help, instruction, and encouragement through other people just when I needed it. No doubt about it, book publication is definitely a wall I could not scale on my own.

Are you scaling a wall right now? Or does a wall loom in front of you that needs to be scaled? I hope you can learn from my climb. Put in the work, but don’t try to do it on your own. Take it a step at a time. Be patient and persistent. And most of all, rely on God. He will provide all you need.

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

*What wall has God helped you scale? 

*Flickr photo by why 137 (slow!)