Paying Attention to Warning Signs

Several years ago my hair dryer made me nervous each time I used it. I stood in front of my bathroom mirror, hair wet and as straight as a string, and panicked a little each time after flipping its switch on. The faint burning smell it emitted could not be a good thing.

Thank goodness for the warning sign. This particular hair dryer had served me long and well and was now even giving me a heads up that it might be nearing its last blow dry session. What a trusty friend, huh?

Somehow, though, I’d forget the warning and go on my merry way, not thinking about it until the next time my head was wet. After a few nerve-wracking episodes of blow dryer roulette—also known as praying for it to dry my hair before it shut down permanently—I decided to take precautions and buy a new hair dryer before disaster struck. In other words, I finally paid attention to the warning signs.

Since a hair dryer disaster is a trivial matter (if it happens to someone else!), let’s consider other more serious warning signs we might be overlooking or forgetting as we hurry on to the next item on our agendas. What do we see happening in our lives that warrants our proactive and precautionary attention?

Maybe our bodies are trying to tell us something. Is it time to see the doctor? Do we need to make more time for sleep at night? Or maybe we see signs of trouble with our families. Do one of them need a medical appointment? Or are our kids acting out or withdrawing? Do our spouses seem troubled or distant? And what about finances? Are we juggling payments or hiding purchases and credit card statements from our significant others? For each of us the warning-sign scenarios may be different, but if we are wise, we’ll pay attention. And that’s not always easy to do.

And what about warning signs that something may be amiss in our spiritual lives? Do we feel like God is far away? Have we been neglecting time in his Word or in talking with him? Or perhaps the joy has disappeared from our relationship with the Lord. Have we slipped into following a set of rules rather than loving a person?

Let’s be thankful for warning signs that alert us to possible problems—and then let’s be proactive.
Let’s take precautions, if possible, before we encounter major malfunctions. We’ll all rest easier then.

“Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.” Proverbs 4:6 NIV

*Have any warning signs come to your attention 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.

*Public Domain photo by Henrique Vicente

After the Wedding: Thank Vendors Who Shined

Mother of the Bride, as your daughter’s wedding day unfolds, you will notice which vendors really shine in carrying out their roles. Hopefully they’ll all do a wonderful job, but one or two will probably disappoint. On the other hand, one or two will amaze. And those are the ones that will make your day.

So when a vendor does a top-notch job and goes above and beyond what you expected, why not send him or her a thank you note in the days following the wedding? Why not return the blessing? I guarantee you will make her day with your thoughtful gesture. After all, words of appreciation keep us all encouraged and motivated to do our best, no matter the work we do.

Here’s the note I sent the cake designer who not only crowned our daughter Kristin’s wedding reception with a taste of heaven but surprised us with a beautiful visual touch to all of our tables as well:

Emeline, I just had to drop you a note to thank you for the absolutely wonderful job you did on the cakes for Kristin and Shawn’s wedding. They were beautiful and out-of-this-world delicious! I also so appreciated the fresh flower petals you sprinkled around on the tables—that was such a special unexpected surprise. It added so much to the beauty of the tables. Thanks for going out of your way to do that for us!

God blessed in so many ways to help us have a wonderful wedding celebration, and you were one of those blessings.

Thanks again!
Cheryl Barker

Not only did my note bless this vendor (she sent an email thank you that same day), but it gave her another name she could add with confidence to her list of references. Remember, giving a glowing report when asked about a vendor’s services is another terrific way to keep showing your appreciation in the future.

Even though you may be ready to close the books, MOB, on your wedding responsibilities as soon as you pull away from the reception venue, take a moment to thank those who helped make your baby girl’s big day extra special. It’s your turn to bless them!

*You might also like to read Time-Saving Tip: Insider Info from Vendors and Wedding Savings Tip: Ask for Price Breaks.

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

*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.

*Flickr photo by Virginia L.Creative Commons License

A Mother of the Bride’s Prayer of Thanksgiving

May this Mother of the Bride’s Prayer of Thanksgiving help you express to God what’s in your heart this year, dear MOB!

Dear Lord,

My heart is filled with thanksgiving this year as I help my precious daughter prepare for her wedding. These are once-in-a-lifetime days, and I’m so grateful to be sharing such an exciting journey with her. Thank you, Lord, for granting us this amazing time together.

Father, as I see my sweet girl take on this new role of bride-to-be and soon-to-be wife, my heart swells afresh with love for her. Not only has she grown into a beautiful woman, she has become a funny, smart, kind, and loving person. I am so very proud of her and I thank you, Lord, for allowing me the great privilege of being her mom.

And how can I ever thank you for bringing such a fine young man into her life to be the love of her life and share the rest of her days with her? I pray that you’ll draw them even closer to one another in these months preceding their wedding. Help them form a bond that nothing will ever break, and help them to always look to you and desire to honor you in their marriage and in all that they do.

Lord, help me to be a mother of the bride who is truly helpful and encouraging in every way. Help me to be the support that my daughter needs now and help me to develop a sweet and loving relationship with my soon-to-be son-in-law. I pray I will be a mother they can always count on and a friend who will walk with them through whatever the future may hold. Help me to be a blessing to them, Lord!

Yes, Lord, my heart is filled with thanksgiving this year. How I thank and praise you!

“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3 NIV

*You might also like to read Spirit and Soul Refreshment for the Mother of the Bride. And from my home page, you might like A Prayer for Couples You Know.

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

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out Nov. 2nd. 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.) Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*Flickr photo by JFXieCreative Commons License

Thanksgiving in Simpler Times

As I watched my kids’ eyes glaze over from too many video games one Thanksgiving years ago, I recalled my childhood Thanksgivings and realized how lucky I was. We celebrated the holiday at my grandparents’ farm in the days before video games, satellite dishes, streaming devices, computers, and iPhones. As a result, I now have priceless memories of Thanksgiving in simpler times.

Our celebration bordered on a full-blown family reunion for my dad’s side of the family. Grandma especially treasured Thanksgiving because it was her holiday. She always had the dinner at her house, and everyone knew it. It was tradition.

The excitement of Thanksgiving Day started on the drive over to Grandpa and Grandma’s. When we turned off the highway onto the country road, I knew we were almost there. The familiar words “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go” had special meaning to me because they echoed my own experience.

Each year as we reached the farmhouse lane, I wondered which cousins would be there to play with that day. We would have adventures for sure because there were always adventures to be had on the farm. With a little imagination, the lane became a dangerous road filled with wild creatures, rushing rivers, or deep gullies to cross. And cousins made it all the more exiting.

Sometimes we arrived early so my dad could go hunting with the men. He kept his bird dog Cindy on the farm, and she always went wild with excitement when she saw us. The men must have had great times on those hunts together because each time they came back talking, laughing, and poking each other with their elbows like they knew something the rest of us didn’t.

Meanwhile, we all feasted on the heavenly aromas that drifted out of Grandma’s kitchen. The smell of roast turkey, noodles cooking on the stove, and homemade rolls baking in the oven tantalized our taste buds.

When dinner was finally ready, Grandma called us to the kitchen where we gathered for the Thanksgiving blessing. Grandpa called on one of the men to pray, and what a prayer it would be. Our family had a deep Christian heritage and much to be thankful for, especially our Savior Jesus. On other days when Grandpa didn’t pass the privilege on to someone else, I loved to hear him pray. His heart was so full he almost always shed a tear or two when he gave thanks to his Lord.

Not only did our family know how to pray, we knew how to eat! Confident that all of our favorite foods would be there, we filled our plates from the vast array of delectable dishes covering the kitchen counter and stove.

Everything was made from scratch. Packaged noodles, rolls, and ready-made pie crusts were unheard of in our family. Just about every kind of pie known to man tempted us that day—and they were divine. Pumpkin pie was a certainty along with the mincemeat pie Grandma made especially for my dad, but we also got to choose from apple, cherry, lemon meringue, chocolate, coconut cream, and sometimes blackberry or peach. What a difficult decision! The adults usually tried slivers of several different kinds, but I had to have a whole piece. I didn’t like skinny pieces, and neither did the other kids.

The adults ate dinner in the dining room while we kids sat in the kitchen, but that was fine with us. We didn’t want to stick around for the boring conversation after dinner anyway. And we definitely wanted to be busy by clean-up time. We really didn’t have to worry about that, though, because the women seemed to fight for the chance to wash and dry the dishes. I didn’t understand that until I got older.

Since my grandparents didn’t have a television at that time, football didn’t dominate the afternoon. The grown-ups did lots of talking, and the kids did lots of playing and acting silly in general.

If the weather was bad, we played in the basement, which was home to a scary looking coal-eating furnace, Grandma’s washer, a bed, and shelves filled with jars of food from Grandma’s summer canning. We also had room for roughhousing and riding the little John Deere tractor Grandpa kept for us. The basement reverberated with our noise, and before long one of our parents would materialize out of nowhere and try to quiet us. Since that only seemed to work for a few minutes, everyone always hoped for good weather.

When the weather was good, we knew we could count on Grandpa to go outdoors with us. Tramping around the farm with him and listening to all his tall tales was pure heaven. Sometimes we played hide and seek in the barn or got real daring and walked the rafters. I was scared to death to do the things my country cousins dared me to do. I grew up in town and felt as if I was risking my life most of the time.

Grandpa also let us feed the chickens, help milk the cows, and chase the wild kittens that lived in abundance around the barn. He loved us and always made our visits fun.

Thanksgiving was a great day in the life of our family. I’ll be forever grateful, not only for my loved ones, but also for treasured memories of Thanksgiving in simpler times. And now? As I share these memories with my kids and grandkids, their simple country heritage will live on. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord!

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1 NIV

*What aspects of your Thanksgiving celebrations are you especially thankful for?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out early this month. 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.) 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 Ali Gooya on Unsplash

Ring Out, Ring On!

“The Lord’s message rang out from you . . .” 1 Thessalonians 1:8 NIV

If you’ve read my writings for any length of time, you know that I want my words—whether here or in other venues—to be a source of refreshment, encouragement, and nourishment for all who read them. I hope you’ve been blessed and have heard the Lord speak to your heart when you’ve read my blog posts or other things I’ve written over the years.

But you know what? That works both ways. Many of you have blessed me at different times by telling me that my words have touched you in some way or that God has given you—through my writing—just the word you needed to hear on that particular day. I can’t tell you what an encouragement that is to me. Those are the kinds of things that keep a writer writing.

In fact, your words—whether through blog comments, notes, messages on Facebook, emails, words spoken face to face, or your own writings if you’re a writer—have many times been just the words I needed to hear.

Sometimes it’s been a message of encouragement from the Lord to help me stay committed to the calling he’s given me, but many other times he’s spoken through you to give me strength, wisdom, or direction for any number of personal issues I’ve faced.

What it boils down to is this: You don’t have to be a writer or a teacher or a preacher for the Lord’s message to ring out from you. You can simply be you. All you need is a willingness to speak words of kindness, truth, inspiration, thanks, wisdom, comfort, or encouragement. So ring on, my friends, ring on!

“But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.” Job 16:5 NIV

*How have someone’s words been a message from God ringing out to you recently?

*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 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.) 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 alykat, Creative Commons License