Wednesday, November 30, 2011
As the season gets started, I urge you to find a hymnal or songbook of old-time Christmas carols and choose one to sing each day in your quiet moments with God. You probably know many of these long-time favorites by heart, but I want to encourage you to find the words written out somewhere so you can sing all the verses. I promise you will find treasure you have forgotten about or never knew was there.
Last year while singing “O Holy Night!” during one of my personal worship times, the Lord ministered such encouragement to me through the last half of the second verse—the verse that is usually left out when we sing it in groups or hear it performed. How grateful I am I didn’t leave it out as I sang privately to Him last Christmas season.
Join me today, won’t you, and carol your way to worship this holiday season. Here is “O Holy Night!” to get you started (text by John S. Dwight; melody by Adolphe Adam). May the King of kings minister to your heart as you sing to Him!
“O holy night! the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;
Fall on your knees, Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand;
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend;
He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace;
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name;
Christ is the Lord, Oh, praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim.”
“Worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness . . .” Psalm 96:9a
*Flickr photo by Per Ola Wiberg~Powi
*Don't forget to enter The Spirit of Christmas Giveaway (below this post). Deadline to enter is noon Dec. 7. Good luck!
Sunday, November 27, 2011
I’m giving away a copy of The Spirit of Christmas—a recent release that has a story of mine it. (Yay, huh?!) This book is definitely brightening my season, and I hope it will brighten the winner’s, too—along with readers all across the country. If you already have a copy, go ahead and enter and win one for a family member or friend!
Leave a comment on this blog post by noon Dec. 7, and you'll be entered for a chance to win The Spirit of Christmas. (I’ll sign the copy if you so request but will send it untouched if you’d prefer). To make it fun, tell me about a time when someone shared the spirit of Christmas with you. If I don't know you personally or can't contact you via your own blog, be sure to leave your email address in your comment or you won't be included in the drawing.
I'll be the first to share a story. One year many years ago, my sister Debbie and her family traveled from Phoenix to be with us a couple of days prior to everyone gathering at Mom and Dad’s for Christmas. Neighbors of ours at the time, Henry and Faye, heard we were having company and made homemade cinnamon rolls for all of us. As they delivered those yummy pastries, they also delivered a heartwarming dose of Christmas spirit along with them. These are the kinds of surprises and smiles we never forget, right?
Okay, your turn. When did someone deliver some Christmas spirit to you? And while we’re thinking about it, let’s be alert to ways we can share the spirit of Christmas with others this year. Let's deliver some surprises and smiles that folks will never forget!
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given . . .” Isaiah 9:6a KJV
Sunday, November 20, 2011
We were blessed to have many other family members join us, and we packed a little bit of everything into a couple of days. I hope you enjoy a peek at our time together. I won't be posting midweek since we'll all be busy eating turkey, but I hope you enjoy soul-satisfying times with your families this Thanksgiving week!
Kristin and Kelli hit the crafting jackpot when my mom pulled out old quilt squares that had belonged to my grandmother. She had used many of those fabrics to make clothes for my sisters and me. So much fun pointing those out to my girls.
I am so thankful for the wonderful family time we enjoyed. So thankful for my family. Happy Thanksgiving to all! Enjoy your fall family time!
"May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other . . ." 1 Thessalonians 3:13a
*Check back next week. I have a little giveaway planned to help make someone's holiday season merrier!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
These stubborn fall leaves will not “go gentle into that good night” (Dylan Thomas). They will cling tightly to life and refuse—as long as possible—to fulfill their God-given destinies to fall to the ground with the rest of their comrades. You might say if they had fingernails, they’d be hanging on by them.
As we look at these last autumn hold-outs, maybe we need to ask ourselves if there is anything we’re clinging tightly to in spite of God’s direction to let go. Is there anything we’re refusing to submit to Him?
Are we clinging to a behavior or an attitude that the Word of God clearly calls sin? Has the Holy Spirit shone His convicting light on an area we’re not quite ready to let go of yet? Or maybe we’re clinging to a person, a possession, or a goal when God has asked us to loosen our grip. It might even be something new or different we feel God is leading us to do, but we’re still at a point of resisting.
Let’s not be among the last hold-outs from God. Instead, let’s fulfill our God-given destinies. Let’s not refuse Him any longer.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24
*Flickr photo by *clarity*
*I have a fun Thanksgiving week post to share with you next time. Be sure to check in Sunday evening or in the days following (that will be my only post during the holiday week). Hope you get a chance to drop by!
Sunday, November 13, 2011
I wish I could send each of you subscribers a gift card -- I appreciate you all so much! But since I can’t do that, how about another gift to show my appreciation? How about a favorite family recipe for the cool-weather months?
That’s right! Soup’s on today for any of you who are interested! Any potato soup fans out there? Below is a recipe I got from my friend Kristi when I was just a newlywed. Everyone in our family loves it, and I hope you will, too.
Do you have a favorite soup recipe? Please share it with us in the comments. On behalf of everyone, I’ll thank you in advance! :)
4 strips bacon
2/3 c. chopped onion
4 c. diced raw potatoes
1 c. sliced carrots
4 c. boiling water
2 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. sage leaves
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 t. paprika
2 t. dried parsley flakes
4 Tbsp. flour
4 c. milk
Fry bacon in pot large enough for soup. Remove bacon, add onions, and saute until limp.
Add potatoes, carrots, water, and salt. Cover and cook till vegetables are tender. Add seasonings.
Blend flour with 1/2 c. of milk then add with the remaining milk to the mixture in the pot, stirring constantly. Heat till slightly thickened.
Crumble bacon & sprinkle over soup. Serves 8-10. Even better reheated!
I hope you enjoy this little recipe-gift of appreciation. Everyone stay warm in the cold days ahead!
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights . . ." James 1:17a
*Flickr photo by cogdogblog
*Still not too late to get the latest issue of Life Notes. Sign up is free and to the right!
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
For those of you who have not yet subscribed to Life Notes, my free quarterly inspirational newsletter/ezine, I thought I’d offer a taste of it here on the blog. Others of you may not have had time to read the current issue yet since it just came out last week. Whatever the case may be, enjoy the lead article here today!
The Amazing Race
Ever watch “The Amazing Race”, the reality show that follows the adventures of several teams of ordinary people racing around the world competing for a million dollar prize? Without really meaning to, I ran my own crazy version of it one holiday season.
No, I didn't get on a plane, ride a bike, row a boat, or compete in challenges like milking camels or eating unappetizing international foods. I simply went Christmas shopping. Since we have very few places to shop in our small community, I always have a packed schedule when I make my monthly trips to the city. With my holiday shopping added to the mix, I found myself running—not watching—The Amazing Race.
I didn't have a partner like the teams on the show do. My only competitor was the clock, but that was enough. I went armed with my list of stops and gift ideas, knowing I had only x-amount of time to conquer it all. After making the drive, I parked in front of the first store and pulled out my list. I resolutely put on my game face and started walking. Or maybe I should say sprinting. I move fast on marathon shopping days. Just ask my family. None of them can keep up with me for an entire day when I’m on the move.
During my race that day, I didn't stand in lines at airport ticket counters, but I endured them at almost every checkout or customer service. I wasn't required to search through hundreds of assigned items trying to spot a specially marked one, but I certainly scoured shelves in store after store trying to find what I wanted for those on my list.
While driving from place to place, I ate my lunch and plotted new strategies to deal with the roadblocks and detours that presented themselves. There were stores that had moved or closed, discontinued items, out-of-stock items, high prices, wrong color, wrong style, a late afternoon call from my youngest daughter finally giving me a list of ideas . . . You get the picture. My roadblocks and detours differed from those on the show, but they challenged and stressed me just the same.
I didn't give up, though. I pressed on until I reached the final pit stop, the finish line for my race—the restaurant where I met my friend Jeneal for dinner. I arrived looking rattled and frazzled, but I made it by the appointed time.
The problem? I didn't accomplish everything on my list. The clock won.
Even so, I had done the best I could, and the trunk of my car was filled with the proof. Proof that left me feeling satisfied with my efforts. I guess sometimes winning is about finishing or about being proud of what I managed to achieve, not necessarily being the first one to reach the goal or beat the clock.
Are you faced with a race of some sort? I encourage you to put on your game face and start walking. You may have to sprint like I did, but don't give up. Press on. Let determination propel you toward your goal. If you’re lucky like me, you'll have a friend waiting for you at the finish line, too!
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14 NIV
*What kinds of races are you running right now? Any other marathon Christmas shoppers out there? :)
*Flickr photo by dave416
*If you're not already a subscriber, be sure to sign up for Life Notes by noon Sunday (CST) to be included in the drawing. Sign up is free and to the right!
Sunday, November 6, 2011
One morning when a full, out-of-town day stretched before me, I wanted a taste of God’s Word to begin my day. I decided to open my Bible to a random Psalm and read wherever my eyes landed. I don’t do this often but am so glad I did that day.
I opened to Psalm 84, and as I read the first verse, the taste I desired exploded into a feast. They were familiar words, but in that instant, I saw them in a new light, with a deeper understanding. My drive-through, random reading suddenly felt like a full course meal.
This psalm, this verse, was written in Old Testament times, of course, and the words “dwelling place” referred to the temple of God. But where is His dwelling place—His temple—now? In us! In the hearts of believers. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)
So if you’re a believer like me, what does this truth mean for us in the context of this verse? Because He lives in us, friends, we are lovely. And not just an off-hand use of the word lovely, but lovely emphasized—how lovely. In other words, you and I are very lovely. Extremely lovely. Amazing, huh?!
I’ve got to be honest. I don’t usually think of myself as lovely—in the physical or the spiritual sense. Too often I concentrate on the imperfections in both realms. I dwell on the warts of my shortcomings.
I think it’s about time I start seeing myself as God sees me. Redeemed and dearly loved as one of His children. As very lovely because He lives in me. Anyone else need that reminder today?
“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
*Flickr photo by kelsey_lovefusionphoto
*Deadline for the Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway is Nov 13. Details are in my Oct. 16 post and sign-up is to the right. Don't miss out on the chance to win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble!
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
We hadn’t shopped for a sofa for over twenty years, and boy, have things ever changed. Judging by the depth of the seat cushions, you’d think we live in a land of giants. In order to sit in the majority of what’s available now, you have to be propped up by pillows.
Since neither Don nor I wanted to do this, our shopping outings—which began over a year ago and got waylaid by life—took on the air of a serious search rather than a fun shopping task. After finally finding a sofa that would work for us, the next step—selecting a fabric—loomed before me like an unwanted surgery.
Why such dread? I have virtually no ability to envision how something will look if it’s not the finished product. I’m also craft-challenged so just the thought of looking at fabrics and making choices (expensive ones!) nearly sent me into panic mode. To make matters worse, we also needed to find the kind of chairs we wanted to go with the sofa and then select fabric for those—and all of this from squares of fabric samples. I started feeling short of breath just thinking about it all.
Lucky for me—or should I say by God’s grace and perfect timing—I had just read the passage in 2 Corinthians where the Lord tells Paul that His power is made perfect in weakness. Paul then declares “when I am weak, then I am strong.” (12:10b) I knew the same could be true for me and my overwhelming task. I could trade my interior decorating and craft-challenged weaknesses for my God’s perfect power and strength. I just needed to relax about it all and trust in His ability to help me. I decided to do just that.
Did everything go without a hitch? Of course not. Issues always seem to arise. Was making the decisions still difficult? Yes, but at least I was able to function rather than being frozen by fear. In fact, at only one point on decision day did I come close to a melt-down. The Lord helped me and Don each step of the way and even guided us through some unforeseen challenges where the chairs were concerned. His power was made perfect in our weakness, and He provided what we needed.
Do you need to trade some weakness for strength today? I know just where you can get it. And you won’t have to shop your brains out in the process :) Just turn to God. Just trust in Him.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ . . . That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9a, 10
*Flickr photo by kelsey_lovefusionphoto
*The Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway is still underway. Details are in my Oct. 16 post and sign-up is to the right. Don't miss out on the chance to win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble.