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

God Gets in the Boat With Us

“Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.” Mark 6:51 NIV

Are you familiar with the boat story that took place after Jesus fed the crowd of five thousand?

When everyone had had their fill, Jesus told his disciples to get into a boat and go on ahead of him so he could have a private time of prayer. Later on that evening when the boat was in the middle of the lake, Jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars because it was so windy. He decided to walk out on the water to them. When they saw him, they were terrified. They thought he was a ghost. So he identified himself at once, told them not to be afraid, and then climbed into the boat with them. The wind died down—and I imagine the disciples’ fears did too.

Just as the disciples had a Savior who came to them and climbed into their boatload of fear and struggle, we too have a God who gets in the boat with us. He comes to our aid when the winds of life are beating us down. He enters our lives and our pain. He gets right in the middle of our trials and struggles and brings peace. So let’s not be afraid. We have a God who gets in the boat.

“. . . do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV

*Our daughter Kelli was diagnosed with breast cancer recently and God has definitely gotten in the boat with all of us. When has God gotten in the boat with you?

*The new 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 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.)

*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 Richard Clark (Digimist)Creative Commons License

One of Jesus’ Prayers For Us: Unity Among Believers

“…Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Romans 8:34 NIV

It’s almost too much to comprehend. The One who conquered death is right next to the Father interceding for us. That’s a pretty incredible thought, isn’t it? As incredible as it is, sometimes we forget that Jesus is praying for us. Think about it a moment. Picture it in your mind’s eye. Do you wonder what he’s saying? Would you like to hear his words?

While Jesus walked the earth, one of the prayers he prayed for all believers was for unity. On the night before he was crucified, we were on his mind. In John 17:20-23 we find his words:

“My prayer is not for [the disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Do you think Jesus is still praying this prayer today? Let’s join him and pray for unity among believers—in our own circles and around the world. May we all be brought to complete unity!

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3 NIV

*Where do you need see a current need for unity among believers? 

*I hope you found this revised post from May 2011 helpful today!

*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 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.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by tipiroCreative Commons License

Easter Acrostic: From Sorrow to Joy

Easter—the holiday that takes us from the depths of sorrow to the heights of joy in the span of only two and a half days.

We remember the Last Supper our Lord had with his disciples and feel the pain of his betrayal. We recall his prayerful agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and then relive the horror of his arrest and crucifixion. We feel the grief his loved ones and followers felt.

But then the joy comes. We remember and rejoice in the fact that death did not win. God raised Jesus from the dead—our Savior lives! And because of him, we who are believers will live eternally with him in heaven. What joy!

May the following Easter “From Sorrow to Joy” thoughts bless your celebration this year. Happy Easter, friends!

Easter: From Sorrow to Joy

Ever remember his body and blood shed for us.

Again read the scripture and tell the story of those history-altering, life-changing days.

Stand at the foot of the cross and weep over the price he paid for our sin.

Thank God for raising Jesus from the dead, for giving us a Savior who lives today.

End fearful and defeated thinking and be filled with the joy and hope of eternal life.

Rejoice in Christ’s victory over Satan and let our lives overflow with praise to God!

“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” Matthew 28:5-6 NIV

*Do you know Jesus as your Savior? If not, ask him to forgive your sins and be your Lord. Give him your heart today!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. 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.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Dale Simonson, Creative Commons License

Our Savior’s Prayers

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For the next few days, as we meditate on our beautiful Savior and on all he did for us through his death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave, let’s consider some prayers he prayed during the last hours before his crucifixion. While you read these prayers of Jesus, ask the Holy Spirit to help you apply them to your own personal life.

 “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.’” John 17:1

 “‘My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one . . . Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth . . . May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.’” John 17:15, 17, 23

 “‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’” Matthew 26:39

 “Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.’” Luke 23:34

 “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice…’My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” Mark 15:34

 “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’” Luke 23:46

 Won’t you join me this Easter in committing our lives into the Father’s hands? A blessed Easter to all!

*Which of these prayers of Jesus most resonated with you today?

*I hope this encore post from April 2011 blesses you today!

 The next issue of Life Notes, my inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in each quarterly issue , comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a gift valued at $20 (shipping included) from Beigetone Soaps 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!

 *Flickr photo by Kimber Photography, Creative Commons License