Holding Still for God

It was a God-given moment. Several years ago on a winter morning, I decided to brave the cold and take care of an outdoor chore so Don wouldn’t have to do it at the end of a long workday. As I stepped out on our back porch, a surprise awaited me.

A beautiful mockingbird perched on our nearby evergreen. I expected him to whoosh away as soon as he caught sight of me or heard the cat-like squall of the screen door. But he stayed, holding still, allowing me to marvel in his beauty from just a few feet away.

As he continued to linger, I thought wow, I wish I had my camera. Would he stay long enough for me to dash back in the house and get it? Would he be there when I returned? Would he hold still just awhile longer?

I took a chance and slid back inside, as carefully as my noisy door would allow. After grabbing my camera, I turned it on while still inside so there would be one less noise to startle my little outdoor visitor away.

In spite of another screech from the door, the bird remained perched in the same spot. I raised my camera, zoomed in, and took several shots while he continued to hold still. He looked this way and that, almost as if allowing me to work a little more magic with my camera. He eventually flitted away but not before I was thoroughly blessed by this unexpected God-given treat for the soul.

For a few brief moments, I was an artist capturing a subject—a subject who was willing to hold still and let me do my work. I can’t help but wonder if I do the same for God.

When God wants to work on me or just spend time with me and rejoice over his creation (yes, he wants to rejoice over me!), am I a willing subject? Do I hold still for him and cooperate with his plans? Do I allow him to work his magic?

May the Lover of our souls always find us willing to hold still for him!

“The Lord your God is with you . . . He will take great delight in you; in his love he . . . will rejoice over you with singing.“ Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

*When did you last notice God working on you or rejoicing over you with singing?

*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.) *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

Life on a Higher Plane

Living in small-town Mid-America, we don’t usually have to worry about air traffic control. In fact, we don’t even have to worry about ground traffic control. Ha! However, one morning several years ago when I looked out my front door, I couldn’t believe the activity overhead.

My upturned gaze spotted the jet stream of no less than five planes as they criss-crossed the cloudless blue sky. All of a sudden, another world—a busy world I don’t usually think about—captured my attention.

Since we live about seventy-five miles from the nearest major airport and don’t have many visual reminders of airline activity, the day-in and day-out business of flying the friendly skies isn’t often on my mind. But the sight above me that morning changed all that in an instant.

I got a peek at life on a higher plane (excuse the pun), and it evidently is not only a friendly place (if we believe the ads) but a busy place as well. What’s more amazing is that what I saw is just the tip of the iceberg.

If we had eyes to see and conditions that allowed it, we’d see that this busy scene overhead is taking place across the entire country—and even the world. People are on the move. Life is happening above us at all times.

Another world high above—a heavenly world—captures my attention daily as I worship the Lord and come to him in prayer. But sometimes I forget about all the activity going on around him. Life is happening there. Angels and saints must be on the move at all times. They most certainly are experiencing life on a higher plane!

What’s even more amazing is that if we’ve placed our faith in Christ, if we’ve asked him to be our Savior, we will one day join that heavenly world. We, too, will live life on a higher plane. And that’s some overhead activity I don’t want to miss. That’s the kind of busy I won’t mind!

“Then the angel showed me. . . The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. . . There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 22:1, 3, 5 NIV

*What are you particularly looking forward to in heaven? If you’ve not yet placed your faith in Christ, I encourage you to do so today!

*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 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 Al Pavangkanan, Creative Commons License

Use Vision Boards to Bring Weddings to Life

Mother of the Bride, when it comes to preparing for a wedding, it’s too easy for you and your daughter to overthink the details. Even if you have the invitations, ceremony details, menu, and attire nailed down, it’s still tough to feel 100% confident in every decision when you can’t visualize everything all together.

Why not suggest the following vision board ideas and plan to her? As she creates it, she can share it with you so you can know exactly what she has in mind. But first, share this post with her!

For the Bride:

To sort through your thoughts and focus on the most important elements of planning a wedding, vision boards are lifesavers. Designing a wedding vision board helps you slow down and lay out every idea—and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Whether you’re a fan of cork boards or streamlined digital formats, vision boards are effective because you’re dedicating time to bring the mental images you’ve been envisioning to fruition.

So, what’s the best way to start a vision board? Let’s narrow down the process to the three stages below.

Stage 1: Figure out your goals and inspiration

If all of your ideas are saved on Pinterest or folders on your Desktop, a digital vision board is probably the way to go. There’s a lot less manual work involved in these, and most future brides and grooms will appreciate how easy it is to move things around.

However, if most of your ideas are cutouts from magazines or printed out, a traditional format like a corkboard or foam poster board might be best.

If you feel really stuck, sometimes it helps to draw inspiration from your favorite leaders, authors, poets, etc. The free printable quote cards below can be fun and meaningful reminders you can add to a vision board (or just use to inspire yourself when you’re feeling stuck.) You can download these quotables right here.

Stage 2: Prep your physical and mental space

To make your vision board creation process as enjoyable as possible, clear the space around it. No one wants to be envisioning one of the most beautiful, meaningful days of their lives when they’re in a cluttered space. The preparation has to be mental, too. With new restrictions and mandates due to the pandemic, it’s easy to let stress get the best of you (even though micro weddings can be just as magical as a huge extravaganza.) Relax and clear your mind before diving into a vision board project so you can view prospective plans with a positive mindset.

Stage 3: Organize materials and start creating

Whether you need to gather all of your saved image files, Pinterest boards, or magazine clippings, it’s helpful to gather and organize all of your vision board assets in one place. Then, the fun can begin and you can start creating.

One of the best ways to keep yourself on track with your wedding planning goals when using Pinterest is by having a checklist. This checklist below is perfect—and you can download it for free right here.

If there are certain parts of your wedding you’re still struggling to nail down (like a family tradition you don’t know how to incorporate), play around with different ways to include it on your board. When you have all of the components of your ideal wedding laid out before you, either physically or digitally, you have the power to make the decisions that are best for you.

Do you wish you had a digital vision board template to get you started? Check out the free template below. You can access it right here.

Vision boards are lifesavers for couples who want to plan out all the details but need some structure for all their ideas. Plus, if you have budget constraints or challenging restrictions due to the pandemic, vision boards allow you to be more creative with your problem-solving strategy. You can seamlessly collaborate and bring your ideal wedding to life when you’re using a vision board as a tool.

Organizing a wedding is an exciting, detail-oriented endeavor and you’ll want to make sure you’re on the same page as your partner and your wedding planner/coordinators. Like any wedding planning tool or tactic, there are dozens of ways to go about using vision boards. I hope these vision board ideas have been inspiring. Happy planning!

*Thanks to Zola and their original post  as well as Siege Media for providing me with content for this helpful post!

*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 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.)

Small Seeds, Big Results

“‘. . . a mustard seed . . . the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.’” Mark 4:31-32 NIV

We’ve all heard the phrase “little but mighty.” These well-known words are an apt description for many people and situations, and they can certainly be applied to seeds and planting too.

In scripture, Jesus used the example of the mustard seed to show how something great—something big—can come from the smallest of seeds when planted. The humble little mustard seed can grow until it is one day large enough to provide shade for birds. What a perfect example of how something little can become something mighty.

Small seeds that yield big results are not only seen in the world of gardening and farming, though. They can be witnessed in finances, education, in developing talents and abilities, in building self-confidence, and in spiritual transformation as well as many other things.

Whenever and wherever seeds are planted, growth—yes, miracles—are bound to happen. A little boy who’s given a toy microscope as a child grows up to become a research scientist. A little girl receives a set of colored pencils for her birthday and one day opens her own graphic design business. A troubled teen accepts a New Testament during a Gideon distribution at school and later that year asks Jesus to be his Savior. Yes, planted seeds become miracles.

What small seeds can we plant in the coming days, weeks, and months? It might be as simple as an encouraging word to a struggling soul or a verse of scripture shared on social media. Perhaps we could give a scholarship to a camp, conference, or event that will be life-changing for the recipient. The possibilities are limitless.

Let’s do it. Let’s plant small seeds that could become mighty things. Let’s provide shade—or nourishment or inspiration or any number of other things that someone somewhere needs today. Let’s be part of a miracle!

I planted the seed . . . but God has been making it grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:6 NIV

*What seeds have been planted in your life that have become mighty things?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. 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.)

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

*Flickr photo by Kapitalist63, Creative Commons License

The Divine Lookout

Are you on the lookout for a certain item at all times? Some of us are always quick to notice a good recipe while others gravitate toward a great coupon, a super bargain, or maybe a giveaway or an e-book temporarily offered for free.

Some of us also stay alert for less tangible things like a recommendation for an amazing book or tips on a particular area of interest. Since I’ve started blogging, I’m always on the lookout for new material for blog posts. In fact, my family and friends now live with the reality that some of their interactions with me might just make their way to the blog!

But we’re not the only ones on the lookout. God is on the lookout, too. He’s on the lookout for people. He is our Divine Lookout.

Consider these scriptures to see who God searches for:

“‘. . . who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?’ declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 30:21b

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’” Isaiah 6:8a

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9a

And we must not forget the parables in Luke 15 about the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son—all of which illustrate God’s continual efforts to go after and save the lost or to scan the horizon, waiting with open arms to welcome a returning child.

Where do each of us fall in the sights of the Divine Lookout? Are we among those who are lost, who have never given our hearts to him in faith, or is he watching for us because we have strayed away? Maybe he’s seen that we are fully committed to him, and he stands ready to imbue us with his strength. Or possibly we’re the ones who will answer his call for devotion or go in his name to the place where he sends us.

Let’s never hide from the Divine Lookout. Let’s always be ready to be found or answer his call. There’s no better place to be than with him.

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11

*I hope you were blessed by this encore post from Sept. 2011!

*Flickr photo by Dave Morrow’s Custom CreationsCreative Commons License