Let Them Know You Care

Keep reading for some good suggestions on how to send a blank card to show how much you care.

(Or you could skip to the end to find details on this week’s Spring Card Sale. But you’ll miss out on the good advice.)

Once upon a time, everyone sent you a birthday card for your birthday and a Valentine card on Valentine’s Day. And your grandmother’s card usually had a “little something” tucked inside.

Once upon a time, you would get a card AND a present for your birthday. In fact, it was considered incomplete to only get one or the other.

Once upon a time, everyone sent Christmas cards at Christmastime, and sympathy cards when someone passed away. Then, we started sending “I’m thinking of you” cards and even “Congratulations on your divorce” cards! We wanted to let those closest to us know that we cared about whatever was currently important in their lives.

So, what happened?

Now, we send electronic greetings. We send Facebook and Instagram posts, telling that special someone (and the whole world!), how much we love that them. We send electronic cards. We send texts. We send emails. We send tweets (some of us anyway).

Before I get to the possible answer to the question of what happened, let me just say that I used to be the Queen of Greeting Cards! Yep. I had (um, still have) boxes of all kinds of cards. Birthday cards for my best friend, my children, my grandchildren, nieces, and for people we don’t know all that well but want to remember anyway. Valentines? Yep, got ‘em. Easter cards, Christmas cards, New Year’s cards. I have cards for every holiday except Halloween because I don’t do Halloween. I have “thinking of you, friend,” cards. I have cards saying you will “make it through this hard time”. I have sympathy cards- for those I know well and those who are just acquaintances.  How about “praying for you” cards? Yep. I even used to have “sorry for the loss of your pet” cards but I used them all. (I probably should replenish that supply.)

If I heard from a friend having a challenge in her life, I’d dash to my card box, pull out an appropriate one and it would be in her hand the following day. If I forgot to remember a birthday, I had one handy, the moment I remembered I’d forgotten. Often the “forgotten” birthday person never knew I’d almost goofed up.

And my friends sent me cards too. Birthday cards, “you’ll get through this” cards, valentines, Christmas cards.

Remember getting cards and letters in the mail?

Remember how nice it was to see familiar handwriting on the envelop? Just that handwriting let you know you were cared for in a special way. Someone loved you enough to choose a card, address it and put a stamp on the envelop- just to let you know you’re not alone. And you know what? That card didn’t even have to have big important revelations. Our friend had only to say, “Thinking of you, Love, Sandy”. Now, if she decided to write an epistle about what was going on in her life, that was great. But the mere act of thinking about you was enough to lighten your load and put a smile on your face.

Another thing you need to know about me is that I, too, have become an Electronic Greeter. It’s sad and I fought it. But in the end, I gave up. Sold out. Went to the dark side. I stopped sending cards. (Insert very sad face). So, I’m not just preaching to the choir here. I am in the congregation of blatant Electronic Greeters and I need a good lecture as much as the next person.

What happened?

I believe we all became a little lazier, a lot more stressed and busier, and we all just gave up. How much easier is it to simply send an electronic card, or a tweet, or a text, etc.?

Let’s look at that a moment.

Sending a text is indeed pretty quick and easy. A greeting in all caps, a few appropriate emojis and – boom!- off it goes and you’ve done your duty. An email is similar, as is a tweet. But if you really care a lot, you send an electronic card! Jacqui Lawson is my favorite. Her line is lovely and there are good choices. You do have to subscribe and still take the time to send a personalized greeting. Basically though, it’s easy-peasy!

I think we’ve been duped into believing that a store-bought greeting card is not as personal as an individual electronic message. But that’s a lie. I mean, when we buy a card, we spend time thinking about the recipient, their likes and dislikes, and if the greeting fits that person. And, by the way, have you seen the prices of greeting cards? THEY have become the gift!

So yes, there are pros and cons to both electronic greetings and store-bought greetings.

How about a blank card? It’s an opportunity for you to write as much or as little as you desire!

How about a card you can not only choose the theme but also the exact colors your recipient likes? A card that YOU yourself have taken the time to personalize? How about a card you color before sending? Or maybe you color half and your friend finishes the coloring to complete the picture? Or maybe you could even send along some colored pencils and suggest they color the picture. Coloring is a gift.

Did you know, coloring is relaxing and reduces stress? Yep. It’s been scientifically studied and declared to be true. I know it’s true. I use coloring the calm down and relax. I use coloring as inspiration when I’m feeling flat. The colors and the repetitive motion relax your brain, allowing your mind to sort through all the jumble that’s giving you fits. You hardly even realize you’re getting “un-jumbled”!

When you send a card with a pretty picture for your friend to color, you are not only sending your loving thoughts and best wishes, you’re sending her a mini-spa treatment that she can enjoy right there in the comfort of her living room. You are sending her a gift worth getting. You are sending her a way to de-stress!

Speaking of stress, wait a minute. If I send a blank card, I have to come up with something to fill in all that space! Again, it’s your choice, you can say as much or as little as you want. If it’s someone you don’t know well, just say Happy Anniversary! and sign your name. But if it’s for someone you know well, write all the wonderful things you appreciate about her. Tell her why you like her. Bless her, compliment her, encourage her! If it’s something hard, like a loss, again, just write the basic words and sign your name. Something like, “I’m so sorry for the loss of your cat. I know she meant so much to you… Love, Sandy”. Keep it simple. The number of words isn’t important. It’s the feeling behind the words that matters. On the other hand, having a blank card gives you space to share your favorite story about the time you and your friend searched all night long for her missing cat, only to find the cat curled up in the bottom drawer of her dresser.

A blank card allows you to be creative without having the come up with the entire card. If you are a maker, chances are you would like to create the card yourself but don’t have time. In that case, a blank card gives you the basic foundation of a card with a nice front and also gives you space to add your own drawings or stickers or other embellishments. A win-win solution! You get to create, your recipient gets some of your special creativity but you haven’t had to start completely from scratch to do it!

All the preceding good advice applies to all cards, of course. But if you’re looking for a unique greeting card that can be used as is or colored with your choice of color, take a look at the assortment of blank, pen and ink cards available at

SandyBeeArt.com

There, you will find a choice of 13 designs. And new designs are being added.

We intended to run our Spring Card Special until Monday, but our advertising got mixed up.

So, our mix-up is YOUR GAIN!

This week, until April 23rd, when you buy 4 or more cards, you save $1.00 per card. That’s a good deal and it’s a good time to stock up so you are ready with a unique card when the next big Spring event rolls around.

Meanwhile, enjoy coloring some cards just for the fun of it. You’ll find it relaxing and since you got such a good deal, the price won’t stress out either!

Happy Coloring!

Happy Spring!

See you at SandyBeeArt.com!

Monday After Resurrection

Monday after Resurrection… the Disciples must have been pinching themselves… Was it all a crazy nightmare turned marvelous? What just happened over the past few days?

Yeah, Jesus had been telling them things, unbelievable things they just couldn’t quite get their heads around but now, Monday morning, it appears what He said was true.

They thought their dreams of a Jewish Kingdom were smashed. They thought the Messiah promised by God thousands of years before had come, only to be crucified by the Romans (and Jewish leaders). But wait. He’s alive? What an emotional roller coaster they’d been riding. Another pinch to be sure they were awake and, yes! There’s Jesus, just as He said He would come back to them.

One season might be over, all seems lost. We’ve done everything we can do.

WE know what Jesus meant when He said, “It is finished”, but the Disciples did not. If they thought anything about those words, it was probably that the Messiah was not gone, dead, there was no longer any hope. All was lost. But Sunday, the next day, brought incredible JOY! Resurrection! New life, new chances. All was not lost after all. There was HOPE again.

When a season ends for us, we grieve (because we need to acknowledge losses), but often, we see no possibility of resurrection. The disciples didn’t even know such a thing was possible, much less that they could hope for it. But we do! We know from experience that God somehow makes impossibilities into actualities. We know because we’ve seen Him do it in our own personal situations. In small AND big ways. Yes, we grieve (rightfully) and feel hopeless. But if we’re honest, we know there is always hope when we stop feeling sorry for ourselves. The Gospels tell us the women went home to prepare the burial spices used to anoint the dead but by the time the preparation was finished, it was the Sabbath so they obeyed the Law and they rested.

“…they rested according to the commandment…: (Luke 23:56).

 I wonder if that small bit of timing was deliberate on God’s part, in the plan. Of course it was! Jesus’ followers were emotionally spent. They needed that rest in the presence of God, to allow Him to begin to restore them after they had done what they could do, what they knew to do. Now, they had to rest.

We need rest too. We do whatever we can to keep a vision alive: we stand, we pray, we work. When the door closes, when the stone is rolled across the entrance and it is dead, we grieve. But we also need to rest. We rest in God’s restoring presence, we rest in His words of guidance, we rest in what’s been accomplished. After we’ve poured out our heart and grief to Him, most important is to simply rest in His embrace, be silent and still. As promised, He is with us. As promised, in His time, He restores us and turns sorrow into dancing; and bad stuff into something good.

Restoration is generally taking something degenerated and turning it into what it was. But resurrection is different. Resurrection can take something degenerated and dead and replace it with something BETTER. In this case, what happened was above and beyond anything the disciples could even imagine in their wildest dreams. They were filled with fear (at the power of it) and great joy! (Matthew 28)

Resurrection will take place in our lives. Thank You, God! When all seems lost, remember:

God is able (and willing) to do exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond all we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3). Nothing is impossible for Him!

It’s Monday after Resurrection. Jesus is alive and with us!!

Waiting in the Middle

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

Here we are. Smack dab in the middle of March.

You know how I love “new beginnings”. Well, I am realizing that we spend most of our time in the middles. I know. It’s pretty obvious now that I see it. However, I guess I was just so focused on the beginning and end, I didn’t see the middle for what it is. The middle is where we grow. The middle is where we live.

How do we know when we’re in the middle?

Months are nicely numbered for our convenience. We know when the month starts and when it will end. Years, days, even hours, all have a marked beginning and a defined end.

Lunar seasons, while defined on the calendar, are not so cooperative in the actual weather they bring. While Spring is expected to begin on March 22nd, here in the South, the weather often turns spring-like while it’s still February. On the other hand, in the Mid-West, especially the Northern Mid-West, there might be a blizzard and sub-zero temps into April. Don’t we all joke and say, “if you don’t like the weather here, wait a day/hour/minute. It will change”? The weather here, over the past week, has been very spring-like and has coaxed trees into blooming and birds into nest building. Today, however, it was still in the 30’s at noon, with rain. The day after tomorrow, heavy thunderstorms are forecast. We really can’t take the weather too seriously or we’ll go nuts!

Spiritual seasons, seasons of the heart, seasons of grief, etc., or even seasons of great joy, are even less defined than weather seasons. And that’s what makes them so difficult (can I say, “hard”?). (I’ll refer to all the just-mentioned seasons as “spiritual seasons”.) Sometimes, it’s difficult to pin down the beginning of a spiritual season and often they go on so long, we begin to think this is the way life will always be. There appears to be no end is in sight because we often don’t even know what the end even looks like. Spiritual seasons are all growing seasons. They are also waiting seasons. And if we’re wise, we will recognize them as seasons when God is calling us to rest and trust Him.

Waiting is a season that’s difficult to find the middle of. Some waiting indeed does have a marked end (when it the baby going to come?). Waiting can involve doing “nothing”, as in a Waiting Room at the hospital. We’ve all been there. Or waiting for a diagnosis. We might be waiting for the seed to germinate, once we’ve done the cultivating and sowing. Or maybe waiting for that special someone to “pop the question”. Waiting can also be working really hard to accomplish a large project that keeps getting derailed for one reason or another. We’ve been in those waiting seasons as well, when it really IS up to us to push through every step of the process to accomplish the desired outcome. But even there we need to rest in God’s timing and presence. My hubby and I are working on a project that’s dear to our hearts, but it hasn’t gone from point A to point B smoothly. Hubby is patient and works through each glitch and crash. I am not so patient and have to continually remind myself that this is all in God’s hands and I can (and should) rest in His timing. And truly, I’ve seen time and again, when I “let it go”, my mind clears and God brings the next step or the next phrase. We are somewhere between the beginning and the end, closer to the end, but because of a fussy computer and yet-to-be-completed research, we don’t know exactly when it will be finished.

God holds onto us through the process, whatever challenge it brings. Our human inclination, especially our American “can-do” inclination, is to buckle down and fix it (“it”, often being ourselves.). But after awhile, we finally realize we can’t fix it, can’t control it, cannot make it budge no matter how much will-power (or anger, or begging) we apply to it. We are powerless by ourselves. The truly amazing thing is that with God, all things ARE possible, and when we finally give up our pushing and shoving (and ranting and raging), and rest in God’s presence, we too have power- the power of God Himself. Even if nothing is seen to be happening, when we rest in God, our hearts are at peace, our soul calms and suddenly we find we can endure the waiting of middle ground. God is working. It’s in the rest of God that we are not so anxious. It’s in the rest of God, we find peace and trust. And it’s there we find the elusive breakthrough we were trying so hard to shove into being. We happily discover the middle was actually close to the end and we have been carried through in the presence of God.

Just be willing to do God’s will. Just be willing to wait. Be willing to release the need to understand the hard stuff (either you’ll understand later or it won’t matter so much). Be willing to wait ’til later to deal with what you don’t understand. Be willing to let God work and be willing to remember that God’s work is always perfect and on time. Me being willing to wait in the middle, makes the waiting less stressful. And in the end, God will bring good from the hardship, weaving all the pieces and loose ends into something beautiful. When you have that beautiful something (be it a physical work of art or deep, unflinching peace in your soul), when you find Beauty, you’ll know you’ve come to the end. That season has finally ended and you’re no longer waiting in the middle. You are at an end… and another beginning.

What seasons are you in the middle of?

Do you find it challenging to wait? How do you encourage yourself through the waiting?

Blessings to each of you, whether you’re waiting for the weather to change or something much bigger.

February Musings

my photo, my valentines

Do you have favorite things that you take note of throughout the day, month and year?

Yeah. Me too. It could be something as basic as your morning coffee; or as complex as a benchmark anniversary.

For some reason, I like beginnings. I guess it’s the possibility of new things and new opportunities that creates extra hope at the beginning of a day, week, month or year. As we learned last year (and, indeed, so far this year), you cannot always trust that the “newness” is going to be a good thing. It’s a chance we take- entering into something new. Of course, we usually don’t have a choice when it comes to beginning days, weeks, months and year. If I’m alive, it’s going to happen, whether I like it or not.

I really like double beginnings; such as the fact that February 1st was not only the beginning of the month, it was also Monday, the beginning of the week! Since I like these beginnings and double beginnings so much, why didn’t I blog about it? I did “mark” it but only by noticing it. I didn’t say a thing. This double beginning isn’t like missing Christmas or forgetting a birthday. Those are big important events. This double beginning isn’t so much as a blip on most peoples’ radar but to me it’s of importance, in fact, it’s a medium important event to me. But I allowed it to slip past. Why, I wonder? Do you let medium important things slide past?

Perhaps I let this double beginning of medium importance slip past because, if I’m totally honest, I am becoming just a little disillusioned by “beginnings”. There isn’t, and never has been, anything magic about a beginning. For years, I have looked forward to a beginning as something hopeful, a new chance at change (and it certainly can be that). But you can begin almost anything at any time. And the main problem with being disillusioned is just that… it (whatever you are hoping for in a wish-it-happens kind of way) is an illusion. It’s something you only vaguely wish for, often something that is not even based on fact, a fantasy. If I am looking for a beginning to change my situation and do nothing to bring that change to fruition, it’s an illusion, a lie. Rarely does anything suddenly change without some sort of effort on my part. I might need to simply change my mind or I might need to take a walk or even take a class. But usually something is required on my part in order to see a change. The action doesn’t need to be big; it can be as small as that change of mind I mentioned. But any change is bold and often scary and that in itself is worth celebrating and taking note of- it’s of great importance! Do you ever feel disillusioned about things you’ve done for years?

Back to February! I really like Valentine’s Day. I love the colors: red, pink, white, purple. I love that there’s so much talk about love: loving each other, romantic love, giving love, how to love better, all the scripture about love and loving. I love the heart shape. (Of course, I love hearts- the ones that beat and keep us alive!) There’s something to talk about- February, the shortest month has the sweetest “holiday”! On the 1st of February, my pink and red heart flag goes on the porch. The string of hearts, saying, “welcome” goes on the door. This year I added shiny red hearts behind it. A little sparkle, you know! I don’t have a wreath, per se. Maybe I should get hearts and flowers and ribbon when they go on sale and make a pretty one this year. Do you have a Valentine wreath? I don’t expect gifts and dinner in a romantic spot. I plan dinner for whoever is going to be around because, usually, there is more than just the hubs and me. I plan to put the red table cloth on the dining room table, and get out the candles. I like to plan something special for dinner, and especially something special for dessert! Dessert must be something involving chocolate and something red or pink… and whipped cream, of course! What is your favorite Valentine’s indulgence?

LOL! I was just talking to a friend about Valentine’s indulgences. She said she’d call my Friday and remind me to be sure to have a good-for-you dinner and a sugar-free dessert. HA! We got to laughing about crazy ideas and decided I should serve dark chocolate-covered carrots! That’s just hilarious to me! What kind of pretend good-for-you dessert would you serve? (Make it outrageous! Strawberry frosted Brussell sprouts, perhaps?)

I almost always THINK about making and sending Valentines to family and friends. What’s more fun than creating something pretty out of paper, adding encouraging, loving words and sending it off in the mail? This year, I managed to make a dozen cards and get them all in the mail. If you didn’t get one, I’m sorry. Believe me when I tell you that I thought about making one for you and I WANTED to make one for you, too. It’s just that I ran out of time and blank cards. I hope you’re not offended. You really are in my heart and I love you truly. If you do get one, I hope you are encouraged by it. Do you send Valentine’s cards?

I realize that Valentine’s Day is a sore point for many people, particularly us women, and I am sorry. It can be that way for any of us. That’s why I take the bull by the horns and plan what I like to do! I also think of it as Happy Heart Day, or Happy Love Day. That takes the broken hearts and not-received flowers out of the mix. We can all celebrate love… the love of a spouse, hopefully. the love of a child, perhaps. the love of a good friend, for sure. the love of a teacher or mentor, sometimes. the Love of Father God, always and unconditionally, faithfully. I deeply desire for you to know you are loved and lovable.

February is the birth month of our first grandchild… and my really good friend…. and my friend’s son, who is our “other-son”. All those beginnings and celebrations along with Valentine’s Day make it a fun month for me. That first grandchild? She’s turning 21 this year! How the years have zipped past. She is, and has always been, the “best thing since sliced bread”, the “cat’s meow” and the “bee’s knees”. She is smart and confident and kind and loving and beautiful inside and out. (Ok, full disclosure, every single one of our grandchildren is all those things and more in their own unique and wonderful way. I guess it’s just that she is the first. And it’s her birthday month!)

One sad thing about February is it’s the month my really good friend (see above) passed away. A death anniversary always makes a month emotionally tricky. Do you take note of the hard stuff as well as the good?

And finally, one more thing about February: the possibility of getting a good snow event here in Central NC. If we are going to get snow, February is our best bet. Now I know you folks who live with snow from October to May probably can’t understand this but to us, 4 inches of snow is a big deal. Schools close, everybody stays home (oh wait…) and, well, it just feels so nice to be cozy inside while everything you see is being covered with a soft blanket of beauty. Usually our “big snow” only stays around for a few days and then we all move on and resume our normal lives (whatever normal is). It’s a bit like a holiday in the middle of a dreary, dull winter. Snow covers dead grass and bare tree branches; it sparkles in the sun; it provides hours of cold fun for playing; it encourages warm cocoa with marshmallows (if you’ve thought to get them along with your bread and milk, beforehand!). And yes, it also messes up everyone’s schedules. But that’s part of the experience. Even us old folks secretly pray for snow! Do you enjoy snow?

I’ve asked a lot of questions along with my musings. If you would answer one- or all!- of them, I’d be so happy to hear your thoughts.

Whether you respond or not, I hope (the believing kind) that your month is pleasant and that (Valentine’s) (Heart) (Love) Day is a nice day for you. Blessings….

Welcome, 2021

Happy New Year!!

It’s time for “New Year’s Resolutions!”

Here it is the third day of new year and we have yet to see the sun! It’s been a cloudy, rainy beginning to 2021. But that’s okay. It’s been relatively quiet politically (that’s about to change) and we’re still basking in the soft lights of Christmas, so we can endure some clouds.

I think this is a good year to make monthly intentions (aka: resolutions), rather than the typically set yearly ones. Consider it. Neither you nor I have a clue what this year will try to dish up. You do remember 2020? There were some months last year that the goal was simply to stay close to God and rest in Him. Pandemic with a side of cancer (hubby, but he beat it again- thanks be to God!), was just not on my radar at the beginning of the year. It took a lot of effort to stay upright. Produce something? I could barely produce dinner at times. And I felt guilty that I wasn’t “using the time wisely”. I didn’t need the guilt, thank you very much. Intentionally taking a month at a time helped me, once I realized I needed to see things in smaller chunks.

I am seeking a word for the year as an overall guide. It’s amazing how one word really can carry you even in the midst of the unexpected. But intentions are going to be monthly. It’s also possible that this month’s intentions will become next month’s as well- might even carry through all 12 months. That’s fine. But a monthly check-in is my plan. I had been doing a seasonal/quarterly goal re-check, that was helpful. And I’ll still reconsider my word for the year quarterly.

Since one of my intentions for January is to de clutter (that will become more defined), I’m pretty sure it will be necessary to continue that one for many months!

Another is to read BOOKS. So again, that’s one that will become more defined, and I do intend to carry it into the rest of the year.

After last year, though, I can see that these good intentions may need tweeking- or even let go entirely- if the need arises. Even the Best intentions and goals need a good dose of reality in the cold hard light of circumstances beyond my control, I will not be held hostage to something that doesn’t serve my immediate needs. No matter how much junk is piled up or how many good-for-me books there are to read, in order to do more that squeak by, I have to be realistic.

No. I’m not waffling on my goals, just realizing there’s a hierarchy to everything and there are times we simply need to focus on the very most basic of basics.

I’m not expecting 2021 to be “unprecedented”. But if it is, I feel like I’ve learned important things that will keep me going and actually enable me to turn challenges into opportunities. My mindset is different. I’ve given myself permission to do what I need to do and what I need to do, always, is rest in Jesus and listen for His guidance, living in His love and knowing that what whatever happens, in the end, it will all be alright… because of Jesus. If I happen to “produce” something in that process, hooray for me!

What are your thoughts on Yearly Goals/Intentions? Are you making them?

Has 2020 brought you new ways of thinking about Yearly Goals/Intentions?

December, 2020

I haven’t had much to say lately. Not totally true, actually. I’ve had a lot of stuff to say. It’s just that it wasn’t worth saying and certainly not saying to the “world”.

But it’s December 1st. That change of seasons and the change of month… the beginnings and the endings… also Advent just began a few days ago. Advent is a season of waiting, preparing, anticipating, a season of it’s own.

You know how I like to mark the seasons. Therefore, here I am.

I grew up in the Baptist church mostly. We didn’t hold to that “high church” stuff, like Advent. (Or if we did, I don’t remember it!) Advent has always held an attraction for me but I’ve never really embraced it- don’t have the candles, or a devotional. This year, though, I want something different. I want to embrace it. I want to embrace the darkness and the waiting. I want to prepare my heart for the Light that is coming. I want to be still and listen for His still small voice that whispers, “peace”, “calm”. I want to anticipate His Light coming and bringing relief to the craziness of this world. “Your Kingdom, come, Lord. Your will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven.” Even so, Lord Jesus, come.

I am looking for the rejoicing in this weary world.

I am anticipating the glorious Light that in breaking yonder.

I want to feel the thrill of Hope.

Although it feels like slogging through mire, we have the Light with us all the time and, really, we don’t have to wait. Thanks be to God.

Even when we are wondering what’s going on, we know, it’s going to be OK in the end, because we know Who is calling the shots. And we can participate in the form of prayer- if only we would stop complaining and worrying and judging each other and simply Believe.

I’m learning, the first candle of Advent is Hope. And Hope is always with us even when it feels like we can find barely a mite-sized bit of it. A thrill of HOPE… You know what that feels like! We might not feel it often, but it’s there and it is truly a thrill. Hope is worth hanging onto.

Will you join me in the darkness? Will you join me in the waiting?

So many good things take place in the darkness. Think of a seed germinating.

So many good preparations are made in the waiting and breathing and anticipating. Things we are not always aware are happening until we’re called on to do what we’ve never done before.

We’ve made it through this amazing year. We have grown. We’ve learned more about ourselves and others. We’ve learned that people are more important than things. We’ve learned that slowing down will not only not kill us, it’ll actually help us live better lives.

You don’t need to make more big goals and try to add a millions subscribers this month, but there are a few goals we might want to consider. Small but important steps that will bring us to a good ending and set us on an upward path no matter what 2021 will bring.

Don’t be afraid of the darkness, because you know the Light is with you always.

Listen to the silence and hear His whispers of Love and Peace.

Darkness is always shattered by Light. Darkness cannot win. We are already victors.

Look for and anticipate the good and the beauty, no matter where you are, or what circumstances surround you.

Praying you have a meaningful Advent season, whether you “follow the Advent rules” or wing it your own way. Whatever you do, please, stop and hear the angels sing, hear His whispers of Love in the stillness of the night. Seek out the Light and share it far and wide.

Blessings to you, and love….

Good-bye October…

Photo by David Besh on Pexels.com

Today is the last day of October. Like the tendency this year, the month has flown by.

Before we say good-bye, though, let’s take a look at this October 31st… Because today isn’t just any old last day of the month.

Oh no.

It’s halloween- the day we not only celebrate evil, but flaunt it! And hasn’t evil just had a hay-day this year? Evil is in it’s “glory”- destroying and pillaging for all it’s worth. No holds barred. And anyone who calls evil by it’s name is “intolerant”.

While evil is the worst of it, that’s not all.

Many consider this evil as well and I tend to agree… It’s time to change our clocks back to “sun time”, original time. Time to stop saving daylight! Truly, time is just an artificial instrument used by humans to help maintain order. Twice a year, though, when we “change” time. I always wonder what Congress was smoking the day they decided that changing time would be beneficial to the country. Sure, there might have been some “reason”, at the time, maybe for a season. But really. That season has passed… it’s beyond past. We all know that changing time for just that one “little” hour, confuses our bodies and it takes us weeks to recover. That is really not helpful at all. We don’t need to add confusion to our lives- especially this year!

But wait! There’s more…

Today is the SECOND full-moon of the month. It’s 2020, why not have an extra full moon? Why not have 13 full-moons this strange year? A full-moon makes a difference- it’s not just myth or superstition, although plenty abounds. It increases the moon’s gravitational pull on the earth, messing with the tides, reproduction, mental health, our sleep and the body’s cardiovascular system, among other things.

While all this truly can be upsetting, we can know we are safe in the Hands of our loving and gracious Heavenly Father. He is our protection and our comfort. He keeps us safe and gives us peace in every situation. If all that isn’t enough, we have only to ask, and Father God Himself will give us HIS wisdom. We also have a “great cloud of witnesses” in Heaven, who are cheering us on, and a “community of the spirit” (us) to encourage and uplift each other. We really need God’s wisdom in these current days. Halloween, full-moon and time change are nothing compared with the possibility of impending catastrophe that this election presents. The very fiber of our existence, our very lives are at stake. If ever we need Godly wisdom, it is now.

Ends and beginnings are a transition time, a threshold. They are times to check in. They are times to consider and re-consider what’s happening in our lives. They are a time to get with God, connect deeper with His wisdom as well as His grace and love.

If you find yourself anxious about the current events of the day, or are tempted to become anxious, stop! Take a deep breath. (Hey! Take ANOTHER one!) Change your focus and express gratitude. Take another deep breath and thank God for His presence with you.

God bless us, every one.

Searching for Certainty- Book Review

Searching For Certainty - Shelly Miller

I’ve had the honor of being on the Launch Team for Shelly Miller’s newest book, Searching for Certainty. I’ve been following Shelly on Instagram for several years and she’s become a far-away friend, even though I’ve never met her. I appreciate her honesty while still being able to find the beauty in life. She takes beautiful photos. She’s a writer, a speaker and in ministry with her hubby in London. Even in the face of challenges, calling them by name, Shelly always leads herself, and me along with her, back to God and His Word.

She’s had some big challenges in her life. Who hasn’t, right? But Shelly has been able to find beauty in the ashes, grace in the waiting, peace in the unknowns. In her book, she shares her life’s realities but also points us to the truth of God’s love and presence, using scripture, stories, and references to photography to encourage us in our present day struggles.

Here is the review I wrote for Goodreads and Amazon:

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Are you feeling anxious and stressed by the uncertainties you are facing right now? Of course you are! We all live with varying degrees of uncertainty all the time. Life is generally an uncertain enterprise. Whether we are uncertain of saying “yes” to a commitment, which spaghetti sauce is most like homemade or awaiting a diagnosis, stress can begin to take over. When our eyes and mind are clouded with the unknowns, we often need help refocusing on the certainty of Father God’s presence and love.

I feel certain that the timing of Shelly’s book is a God thing, just in time to help pull us closer into the refuge that is Father God. Just in time to encourage us to keep on going in faith and confidence.

Who could have imagined the challenges this year would bring us? No matter your theology or political leanings, this pandemic mess colors our lives in one way or another. We need a place of quiet assurance. We need God’s rest in our souls.

Like so many, Shelly has been through some hard stuff. She knows what she’s talking about when she reaches out, takes our hand and, like a sister, grieves with us, brings compassion and understanding, then points us back to our Firm Foundation, our Heavenly Father. Combining her own stories, and experiences, scripture and analogies from photography, she helps us find rest again, a place where we can exhale and be at peace.

Shelly doesn’t just fluff over the hard stuff nor does she let us off the hook. She asks deep questions and guides us to take a hard look at our own lives. It takes interaction to afford a change and she gives each of us that opportunity as we read and work through the book with her.

Recently diagnosed with terminal cancer (we are praying for healing!), Shelly is now walking through this hard unknown. Yet even so, her words ring true. She brings comfort to our anxious souls by reminding us of Father God’s promises and loving presence with us.

If you are feeling anxious, unsettled, read this book. Just do it. Your soul will breathe a sigh of relief as it releases anxiety and breathes in the comfort of God’s presence. Your soul will thank you. At least, that’s the way I feel! This is a book I will read and re-read and pass along to my friends.

God bless you, Shelly, in your fight for victory over the uncertainty of disease. And Thank You for sharing your love, kindness, knowledge and compassion with each of us.

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I’m serious about this book being a great help and comfort. Yes, it’s true we know Father God and His promises and we live in His presence. However, I, for one, can too easily lose sight of all that knowledge and experience when yet another challenge whacks me upside the head. We all need reminders to bolster us in our growth to be more like Jesus. I really believe Shelly’s story helps fill that bill.

You can pre-0rder the book right now on any number of platforms or you can wait til the release on Tuesday, October 13.

And one last thing: Hang in there friends! We have a sure foundation that will never leave us or fail us- even in a world of upside-down uncertainties. God bless you good!

Psalms 91:4, The Passion Translation
His massive arms[f] are wrapped around you, protecting you.
You can run under his covering of majesty and hide.
His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm.”

Autumn!

Here it is- the first Sunday after the Autumnal equinox.

Nearly a week into Fall and I have not said one thing about it. It’s my favorite season but I haven’t yet paid homage. The really amazing thing is that our Central NC weather has actually been rather fall-like. Cool weather usually makes my heart sing! It’s another odd (but welcome) occurrence in this year of oddities. Autumn- like weather usually triggers me to wax poetic and revel in the cool air. Maybe knowing it’ll get all warm and muggy again has tempered my reaction- or maybe I’m getting lazy or becoming jaded. No! I am determined to fully celebrate and enjoy Fall!

Warm or chilly, I put my Autumn wreath on the front door the first of September and it looks so beautiful- orange pumpkins and ribbon, yellow sunflowers with a white pumpkin for contrast. I love my Fall wreath! I love putting a pumpkin and a few gourds on the porch. And please pass the mums!

Much as I like Autumn, I also like beginnings and Fall is a great time to begin again. The cooler, clearer weather cools and clears my brain. It’s a good time to take a look at the previous three-quarters of the year and decide if changes are in order. I think that’s always a good practice, but this year, crazy and confounding as it’s been, especially calls for contemplation. Have goals gotten ambushed? Have plans been sidetracked? Have you felt overwhelmed?

On this first Sabbath in Autumn, rest your body and soul in the presence of Father God. Remember all the ways He’s brought you through uncertain times. Think of all the things you’re grateful for. Now consider changes- whether in intention, mindset or physically- that you can make. You know this year isn’t over yet and you still have a change to achieve things that are in your heart. Maybe you can pull a goal out of the 2020 mess and make it happen. Maybe you can create a new plan, allowing 2020 goals to be set aside for now. In the presence of God, think about the desires He placed in your heart and ask Him if it’s time, and how to make it happen.

Fall clears the air an gives us bright, clear blue skies and sharp, crisp nights. Now that the air is clear and crisp and your brain has had time to settle down after the shocks of 2020, what will you do? Will you dust off a 2020 goal? Will you make a new goal to accomplish? Will you begin a new project?

What can you “harvest” from this crazy year that will enable you to move forward in confidence?

If you feel like giving up, throwing in the towel and declaring 2020 a wash- don’t! Don’t give up! Rest awhile in God’s presence. Refresh your self. Thank Him for what’s good. When you know you’re safely in God’s Hand, you can relax in Him. Rather than a breakdown, look for a breakthrough.

Even though it looks like the world is going to hell in a hand-basket, there’s more going on than what the media (social and otherwise) is screaming in your ear. Look beyond that. Seek Truth and peace, and resolve to be the kind of person you wish others were. Be kind, do a good deed, practice empathy, look for the good.

How can you finish 2020 with enthusiasm and excitement?

Happy Contemplating.

Happy Planning.

Happy Fall, Ya’all!

Seasons Change. God Does Not Change.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I know I write and think a lot about having no control and feeling uncertain. I don’t apologize for that. It is true. And this year has really opened our eyes to just how small we are. But we are not at the mercy of a weird year and all the challenges it’s brought us.

Although I write and think about feelings of teetering on the brink and of utter disaster, I know (and you know it too!) we are truly safe and secure in Abba Father’s love. I apologize for not reminding us of that every change I get! Please forgive me.

We are not at the mercy of misfortune and wicked intent, we are IN God’s mercy. We don’t have to have all the answers but we do have God’s wisdom and grace to face whatever comes along. We do not fight battles alone, we have our Risen Savior who has already won every battle and He is with us every moment. In a messed up, impossible world of unknowns and shifting information, God- the Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, our Abba Father, God, the One True God- He is our constant. Our peace does not depend on the circumstances surrounding us. Our peace is in His constant, unfailing love. Our peace is constant because our Peace is the Prince of Peace and we are safe. Seasons change. God doesn’t.

What are we waiting for? It feels sometimes like we’re waiting for disaster: for the hurricane, tornado or snowstorm. It feels sometimes like we’re slipping in slow motion into oblivion and all we can do is keep waiting; paralyzed, with heart pounding. God can and does change things for us in a heartbeat. Impossible becomes forgotten on the path of fullness of joy. Hang on with your last shred of hope because God is at work doing far more than we can ask or imagine. (I don’t know about you but I can imagine some very amazing, awesome things!) Peace and joy will be the norm rather than the prize we battle for. Circumstances may or may not change, but the constant awareness of the Presence of God changes everything and opens extraordinary doors. God’s faithfulness is unfailing like His love.

Seasons change. Circumstances change. We change our minds.

We can rest, even in the middle of chaos because God never changes His season of mercy, His circumstance of Presence nor His mind about loving us.

Exhale. Rest. Abba Father God has us safely in His hands of love and mercy.