Sunday, March 29, 2009
Just think of the poor little perennials and flowering pears and redbuds. Goodness, what a shock to their delicate systems. I can almost hear their objections. "What in the world is going on? This is the wrong season for snow! Sure, we're used to running the risk of low overnight temps, but this is ridiculous!"
Nature does have a way of surprising us, doesn't it? In fact, the surprise could sometimes more accurately be called a real shocker. I'd say yesterday's little gift falls into that category. To prove it, thunder rumbled at times, capturing our attention even more. That's right. Thunder during our snow storm. I guess that's what happens when spring and winter collide.
Surprises and shocks many times arrive with incredibly bad timing -- in weather and in life. The last thing any of us wanted on spring break was a major winter storm, but we didn't get a vote. In the same way, sometimes life hands us situations at seemingly wrong times, wrong seasons. Just ask a young widower or a single mom trying to handle it all after her husband walked out on her. Or talk to a mom who's seeing her youngest off to college while also wearing maternity clothes.
Maybe you're faced with one of these wrong season situations or something similar like a scary diagnosis, the loss of a job, or a broken engagement. Or like us, as we've put some things on hold to help care for a parent in poor health, yours might be less drastic but still throw you for a loop.
So what do we do with these wrong season situations? We deal with them. We weather them. And if we're wise, we run to God with them.
We don't try to handle them on our own. We turn them over to the One who wasn't surprised by them. The One who is fully able to work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). The One who is able to "bestow on [us] a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair." (Isaiah 61:3)
Come to think of it, maybe wrong season situations don't happen in the wrong seasons after all...
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1
**Update: Don's mom has been doing better this past week! She, of course, is still in renal failure, but we never thought we'd see improvement at this stage of the game. We're so thankful for more stable times. Thanks for all the prayers!
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
*Flickr photo by mysza831
Sunday, March 15, 2009
My sister and brother-in-law from sunny Arizona are currently frolicking in sunny Florida with their son and his family (rough life, huh? :) ) while my other two sisters and their families have been enjoying a visit at my parents' place this weekend. I'm happy for all of them and the fun they're having together, but doggone it, I'd like to be right in the middle of it :) On the other hand, I feel kind of lethargic. Too weary to want to pack for a trip or have one more demand on our lives at this point.
So...I may not be in the middle of family fun right now, but you know what I am right in the middle of? I'm right in the middle of God's ever present love and care. Yes, I may have missed some family hugs this weekend, but God's arms are always open. Ever ready to wrap me in His loving embrace and assure me of His presence.
I'm so thankful that when I'm feeling a little lonesome, left out, or down for whatever reason, I can freely go to my heavenly Father and tell Him about it all. He knows our emotions play havoc with us at times, and He also knows there are times we hurt deeply. He stands ready to help us through it all. He is a refuge like no other.
Thanks for letting me share a bit of my heart with you today. I'm thankful for friends who care and lend an understanding ear. I'm thankful for you!
"Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." Psalm 62:8
*Flickr photo by Wiking67
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Since we've reached that time of year when you never quite know how to dress here in the Kansas/Oklahoma area, I paid close attention to the 10 o'clock Tulsa weather report on Monday night. The forecast called for a warm day on Tuesday with a high of 82 before a cold front would start moving in around 5 p.m. Since my FCW group meets in the evenings, I made a mental note to throw a jacket in the car and not to count on flip-flops seeing me through the entire day. I even checked the TV station's weather report online the next morning just to be on the safe side. Same report.
Who knew a jacket and shoes and socks would prove to be such a lifesaver that day. The cold front snuck in by late morning, and the only time my flip-flops saw any action was when I put them on for my date with DSW. And no, I didn't find any shoes. Darn! :)
Weathermen, I'm sure, do their best to give us up-to-date, accurate weather forecasts, but sometimes we just can't count on forecasts. The weather has a way of proving to us every now and then that it has a mind of its own. Just when we think we've got it figured out, it makes our piggies scramble for cover.
Today I want to share a forecast with you that you can count on. It's straight out of the Word of God, and because of that, it's true. It's 100% accurate -- and it's reliable. You won't be left out in the cold if you're trusting in him. May God bless the reading of his Word.
"'And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.'" John 14:3 (Jesus speaking).
"'Behold, I am coming soon!'" Revelation 22:7a (Jesus speaking).
"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Flickr photo by aussiegall
Sunday, March 8, 2009
*Flickr photo by sabrina stash
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Some of my fondest, earliest memories of books take me back to my grandparents' farmhouse, our home on Christmas Eve, and also to the public library in Pittsburg, Kansas. Grandpa and Grandma Hoy kept a few Little Golden Books on hand to read to us grandkids when we came to visit. We could find the books, along with a few other treasures, in their dining room buffet. My favorite was Three Bedtime Stories. Grandpa loved reading to us and had all the voices down pat. I don't think this book is available anymore, but I bought a copy when our girls were young so I could share my love for the book -- and the great memories -- with them.
When I was growing up, Christmas Eve found us engrossed in another Little Golden Book favorite -- The Night Before Christmas. I still have an image in mind of our house on Parkview Drive with Dad sitting in his chair reading this magical classic to us. Again, I made sure to purchase a copy of this favorite for our girls while it was still available with the same cover I loved as a child.
As I grew older, my mom made sure to take me and my sisters to the public library on a regular basis during the summers. There in a room with vaulted ceiling, filled with the familiar smell of books and dominated by the silence befitting a library, I discovered Nancy Drew mysteries and devoured them one after the other.
My favorite in high school, Gone with the Wind, I think may be my all-time favorite book. I became so immersed in the story and the lives of the characters I didn't want it to end. As I remember, its emotional impact stayed with me for days. This sweeping epic indeed swept me away. I think I should go back and reread it again after all these years and see if it has the same effect on me now.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
In one of her follow-up posts, Beth advised us to select verses that would be important to us in some way or have special meaning for us at this point in time. Since my life has been pretty stressful since then, I've chosen a couple of scriptures that offer comfort and peace. On February 15th, though, God brought a verse to my attention that perfectly captures my heart's desire concerning my writing.
I wasn't sure what my new verse would be when the 15th rolled around, but that soon changed. As I was reading the day's devotion in Daily Devotions for Writers, I came across Deuteronomy 32:2. I know I've read it before because I've read the Bible completely through in years past, but it sprang off the page with new and personal meaning now. Now I was looking at it through the eyes of a writer.
In the NIV, Deut. 32:2 says, "Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants." Ah yes, that's what I want my words to do. That's my heart's desire.
Even though I don't do indepth teaching through my writing, I do want my words to bring refreshment, encouragement, and yes, even some life lessons to those who read them. This verse, in fact, beautifully reflects the tag line, or brand statement, I already use: Cheryl Barker -- Refreshing Spirits, Nourishing Souls.
I'm so thankful God led me to this verse a couple of weeks ago. I feel like I've discovered a valuable jewel -- a life verse, if you will, for my writing life. I pray that this verse, my heart's desire, will be realized from time to time in the lives of all who read my words. I pray that you, dear friend, will be refreshed, encouraged, or nourished by something you read here sometime.
My prayer? "Lord, thank You for the words You give me to share with others. Bless those who read them. 'Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.' May You receive all praise, Father. May You be glorified through us all. Amen.
"But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief." Job 16:5
*Personal update: Don's mom doesn't feel well much of the time, but she hasn't had to be hospitalized again yet. We're so thankful for each day out of the hospital. Thank you for your prayers!
*Flickr photo by Perry McKenna