Comfort and Encouragement for You This Christmas

*I am taking a blogging break the rest of the month. God bless you and yours this Christmas season!

For some of you Christmas may be different this year. Some of you are hurting. Physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, financially. I pray my words today will be a balm to your spirit and soul this Christmas season. And never forget—God sees you. He loves you and sent his Son to be your Savior and ever-present Friend.

And now, from my heart to yours:

I’m thinking of you this season, friend,
Knowing your heart must ache,
While others fill their homes with cheer
You must be struggling to just feel normal.
Life’s changes hit fast and hard sometimes
And often knock us to our knees,
It’s okay to take time to rest and heal
It’s okay whatever you’re feeling.
While in the midst of heavy-hearted days
May the joy of Christmas come through at times,
May Christmas peace surround and support you
May you notice things to be grateful for.
And with these thoughts I’m sending love
And hoping both offer some comfort and peace.
May God’s tender touches be yours this season, my friend.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given . . . And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 NIV

*Feel free to share with those you know who are hurting this Christmas but please include attribution “written by Cheryl Barker.” God bless one and all!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes out in early February. 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 mseckingtonCreative Commons License

Are We Among the Last Hold Outs?

Be on the lookout for them in the next couple of weeks. The last hold-outs of autumn.

These stubborn fall leaves will not “go gentle into that good night” (Dylan Thomas). They will cling tightly to life and refuse—as long as possible—to fulfill their God-given destinies to fall to the ground with the rest of their comrades. You might say if they had fingernails, they’d be hanging on by them.

As we look at these last autumn hold-outs, maybe we need to ask ourselves if there is anything we’re clinging tightly to in spite of God’s direction to let go. Is there anything we’re refusing to submit to him?

Are we clinging to a behavior or an attitude that the Word of God clearly calls sin? Has the Holy Spirit shone his convicting light on an area we’re not quite ready to let go of yet? Or maybe we’re clinging to a person, a possession, or a goal when God has asked us to loosen our grip. It might even be something new or different we feel God is leading us to do, but we’re still at a point of resisting.

Let’s not be among the last hold-outs from God. Instead, let’s fulfill our God-given destinies. Let’s not refuse him any longer.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

*How is God speaking to your heart today?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes out Nov. 1st. It’s still 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

We’re Not Too Little to Lead in God’s Eyes

“There is the little tribe of Benjamin, leading them . . .” Psalm 68:27 NIV

I love the nuggets of encouragement found in the Psalms. I think I could read there every day and never tire of it.

The psalmist David wrote the words above as part of a passage that describes the procession of Israel—God’s people—into the temple. And wow, what a scene of celebration and praise. Singers, musicians, maidens playing tambourines. Dancing surely broke out, too, right?

One tiny detail I don’t want us to miss is who lead the procession. It wasn’t Judah, the greatest tribe of Israel. It was Benjamin. The little tribe.

The tribes of Israel were named after the twelve sons of Jacob. Benjamin was the youngest, the little brother (Genesis 49:1-28). Likewise, and as mentioned in Psalm 68, the tribe of Benjamin was “the little tribe,” the smallest in numbers (Numbers 1:20-43). In the standards of the world, Benjamin—the brother and the tribe—probably didn’t have much clout.

But look who was given the pleasure, the privilege, and the responsibility of leading the procession of God’s people into the temple. That’s right. It was Benjamin. The little tribe.

What an example and what encouragement to us. We don’t have to be the biggest and best to be a leader. We can be the little brother, the little sister. We can be small in size, in renown, or in ability. We just need to be willing to serve, to put ourselves out there like the tribe of Benjamin did.

So, if any of us have been feeling too little to lead or too little to fulfill a task God has given us, let’s be encouraged by the little tribe of Benjamin. We too can lead. We too can serve. We’re not too little in God’s eyes.

“I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,” Ephesians 3:7-8 NIV

*Has God ever used you to be a leader when you felt little?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes 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.

*Flickr photo by cbcmemberphotos2477; Creative Commons License

God’s Countless Outfits of Beauty

Outfits of Beauty

Beauty dresses in countless ways
With outfits never the same.
Sometimes she sweeps across the skies
With heaven’s own hues unfurled,
Other times she drapes the landscape
In breath-taking mountains majestic.
But sometimes beauty comes up close
Approaching on butterfly wings,
Granting a glance at her delicate side
Displaying miraculous design.
No end can be found
To the outfits of beauty
They’re as infinite as their Creator,
And he shares them all
With all of us—
His gift dressed in countless ways.

“How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all . . .” Psalm 104:24 NIV

*What outfits of beauty have you noticed lately?

*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. *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

Our Exalted God

He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’” Psalm 46:10 NIV

I like to look at a verse of scripture and focus on one tiny word from time to time. In the past, I’ve suggested we consider the words us and let in specific verses. Today, let’s turn our attention to the word will in the verse above.

Most often when we read Psalm 46:10, we focus on the first half of the verse. One time when I read it, however, the last two phrases of the verse jumped out at me. Take a moment and read it aloud and emphasize the word will both times it’s used.

This verse is not only a proclamation that God is God, but it’s a proclamation and a promise by God himself that he will be exalted among the nations. And then, as if to emphasize the certainty of it, he repeats that he will be exalted in the earth. No question about it, no room for doubt. God is going to be exalted.

What a day that will be! Sometimes we forget what’s on the horizon. We get discouraged and distressed by the godlessness that permeates so many aspects of our present day world, and we forget that God is God and that he will one day be seen by all for who he is. Yes, God will be exalted. He will be triumphant.

But I don’t want to wait for that day to exalt God—I want to be among those who exalt him now. Among those who proclaim him today, who give the world a taste of the glory that’s to come. Maybe in our doing so, some will come to know and exalt him with us.

So how about it? Let’s do our part. Let’s exalt God now!

“Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.” Psalm 34:3 NIV

*How will you exalt the Lord today?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out today, but 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