Christmas Poem 2017: Touching Baby Jesus

Friends, my annual Christmas poem tradition lives on! What started as a creative whim in 1982—back in my early days of stay-at-home-mommy-hood—has turned into a tradition of thirty-five years now! Wow, huh?

After receiving that first poem with their Christmas card in 1982, my parents requested another poem the next Christmas. And what kind of self-respecting daughter can turn down a request like that? Of course, once it happened twice, it took on a life of its own and the annual Christmas poem tradition was born.

I have so enjoyed being able to share these poems with friends and family over the years. I’m always blown away by God’s faithfulness to supply the idea for a new poem each year and how he helps me find just the right word or phrase to best express the message. I pray that God will use this year’s poem to touch your heart in a special way.

By the way, I’ll be taking a holly jolly blogging break until after the first of the year. May all the blessings of Christmas and the New Year be yours, my friends. I’ll see you back here on January 2!

   Touching Baby Jesus

Close your eyes and journey back
To history’s most holy night,
Imagine the Babe that changed the world
Imagine those drawn to his light.

His parents the first to look on his face
The first to touch the divine,
The first to kiss his tiny cheek
To see his glory shine.

The animals sharing the stable that night
Must have watched the miracle birth,
They must have drawn near to nuzzle the Babe
To touch heaven come to earth.

The shepherds, the first to hear the news,
Arrived breathless in wonder and joy,
With tender touch they must have reached out
To this Savior, this baby boy.

Now it’s your turn to approach the manger
Jesus is calling, “Will you draw close?”
How will you answer, what will you do,
Reach out and touch—he’ll be reaching to you.

—Cheryl, 2017

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 KJV

*What will you do to draw close to Jesus this Christmas season?

*Have you subscribed yet to Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue? If not, sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, just scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by Aurimas Adomavicius, Creative Commons License

The Season of Rejoicing Is Here!

Anyone else ready to kick off Christmas—the season of rejoicing—in song? If so, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve often celebrated the yuletide season here on the blog by inviting you to join in a favorite Christmas carol, and I’d love to do that again this year. No better way to welcome the season of rejoicing, right?

As always, I encourage you to sing all the verses of the carol and to consider its words with fresh eyes. As you do, you’ll find a wealth of treasure in its message and your spirit will soar in worship of the One whose birthday we celebrate this month.

This year let’s raise our voices together in worship as we sing “Good Christian Men, Rejoice.” It has become a favorite of mine in recent years as I sing it during my own personal worship times. I think you’ll understand why as you refresh your memory with its message.

So join me, friends—the season of rejoicing is here! Let’s rejoice together!

Good Christian Men, Rejoice

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say:
News! news!
Jesus Christ is born today!
Ox and ass before Him bow,
And He is in the manger now:
Christ is born today!
Christ is born today!

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice;
Now ye hear of endless bliss:
Joy! joy!
Jesus Christ was born for this!
He has opened heaven’s door,
And man is blessed evermore:
Christ was born for this!
Christ was born for this!

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave:
Peace! peace!
Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all
To gain His everlasting hall:
Christ was born to save!
Christ was born to save!

(Latin carol, 14th century; translated by John M. Neale)

“‘. . . my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,’” Luke 1:47

*What Christmas carols help you ring in the season?

*Flickr photo by ishane, Creative Commons License

Wedding Day Photo: A Toast for the Groom and His Guys

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Mother of the Bride, as you think of wedding day photo ideas, your thoughts probably center around the bride (after all she is your little girl!), but let me encourage you not to forget the groom. He is the other half of this dream-come-true day and deserves attention devoted to him, too. He may not act like he wants it at the time, but when all is said and done, he’ll be thankful to have memories captured of him, his family, and his friends.

One great photo idea to involve the groom and his groomsmen is to catch them celebrating the big day with a pre-ceremony toast. Not only will they enjoy kicking the party off a little early, but it will make for a cool wedding day shot, too. It’s also neat to capture some of the fun camaraderie between the groom and his guys before the ceremony. Afterwards, it will be all about the new Mr. and Mrs., right?

So MOB, add this idea to your list of photo ideas to suggest to the happy couple and/or their photographer. If they like the idea, why not ask the groom’s mother to be sure to have a bottle of champagne or sparkling cider, etc., on hand for her groom-to-be son and his groomsmen. This provides one more opportunity to help make the groom’s mom feel included in the wedding preparations. And that’s definitely a win!

*You might also like to read Fun Photo Idea for the Groom and Groomsmen, Wedding Day Photo Idea: Bridesmaids Hold the Groom!, Wedding Day Photo Idea: The Groom and Minister, Photo Idea: Bridesmaids Blow the Groom a Kiss!, and Make the Mother of the Groom Part of the Team.

*Flickr photo by dan.thoburn, Creative Commons License

Pew or Chair Décor Idea: Sunflowers!

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Mother of the Bride, believe it or not, it’s not too early to be thinking about pew or chair décor for summer weddings. Since you and your summer bride probably spent your early months of wedding planning nailing down vendors and shopping for bridal gowns and bridesmaids dresses, now you can start giving attention to smaller decisions like décor.

Sunflowers make a perfect choice as pew or chair décor for summer weddings, especially if your daughter also wants to incorporate some in her bouquet or in the bridesmaids’ bouquets. Attaching one big sunflower to the chairs or pews along with some greenery as shown in the photo above will add cheer and beauty at the same time. Sunflowers just have a way of brightening up any space, don’t they?

You can also add another accent color with a daisy or two in the pew décor if you’d like. Several color choices could work. You could go with one of your daughter’s other wedding colors or simply go with white to tie in to her gown or the other white bridal décor that is sure to be a part of your sweet girl’s overall decorating plans.

Why not find out, MOB, if sunflowers will get a yes from your bride-to-be? After all, a touch of sunflower sunshine might just be the final piece to her wedding-day decorating puzzle!

*You might also like to read Wedding Décor Tip: Adorn the Church with Pew Bows and Wedding Décor Beauty: Candlelight Works.

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out this week. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Be sure to enter the Steaming Hot Valentine’s Day Giveaway over on my home page! Deadline to enter is 6 p.m. Feb. 11.

*Flickr photo by charamelody, Creative Commons License

Christmas Tree Joy—Again!

5264788413_7bbd94d1ee_z*While I continue to care for my husband after his accident, I hope you enjoy this encore presentation (with a few tweaks) from my first Christmas season as a blogger—December 2007. Hope you’re enjoying your holiday season!

Do you have your Christmas tree decorated yet? Your answer may depend on whether or not you’re going to get a real tree. If you’re like us and use an artificial tree, chances are you’ve been delighting in it for a week or two already.

I absolutely love having our Christmas tree up during the holidays. Excitement, joy, peace, and contentment all seem to emanate from it. Nothing makes me happier than to find a valid excuse to put the tree up a few days early, and this year was no exception. I have to admit that I don’t like the work involved, especially when I have trouble with the lights or with my garland that never quite fits around the whole tree. The end result is perfect, though, and always worth the effort.

Now when I say perfect, I don’t mean magazine perfect with everything color coordinated and evenly balanced. I just mean perfect to my eyes and heart. The theme of our tree is “hodgepodge”—a little bit of this and a little bit of that. And each little “this and that” is dearly loved and meaningful in some way—except for a few ornaments that I am trying to convince our daughter Kelli to finally start putting on her own tree :)

About twenty years ago I bought a couple of Precious Moments porcelain ornaments that reminded me of my girls, and over the years several others have been added to our tree. Most of them have been gifts from Don or the girls, but a few represent some lucky after-Christmas sales. We also have a Precious Moments angel tree-topper that Kelli, when she was just a little girl, named “Carolyn” after her Aunt Carolyn. Carolyn was probably in her late teens at the time and considered very cool by her little nieces.

The rest of our ornaments come from a variety of people and places. Kelli’s favorite—the twirly one—has been handed down from Don’s family, and Kristin’s favorites are her “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament and the one that has her picture on it as a two-year old. Several are gifts from dear friends while many others represent vacation spots we enjoyed together as a family. We even have a couple that Dad brought back for me from his travels in Russia. Then there are those I’ve simply treated myself to when I splurge a little while on vacation. Each ornament holds special meaning and memories for me. That’s one of the reasons I love our tree so much.

But there’s also another reason I love our tree so much. To me, Christmas trees are symbols of joy. They show there is a celebration going on—a celebration so big that even the trees are shouting for joy. The lights, the tinsel, the ornaments all seem to cry out “Joy to the world! A Savior has been born!” Funny as it may sound, Christmas trees actually lead me to worship.

I pray that you will enjoy your tree this year, that perhaps you’ll look at it in a new way. If you listen closely, you will probably hear it singing for joy at the miracle of our Savior’s birth. Take time to sing along and enter into that joy yourself this Christmas season. Worship and be blessed!

“Then the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the LORD . . .” 1 Chronicles 16:33

*Which ones are your favorite ornaments on your Christmas tree? (Since I originally wrote this piece is 2007, I’ve begun collecting a few Christopher Radko ornaments as well. My mom got me hooked on Radko ornaments, and now that she’s gone, they are a especially dear to me as they remind me of her.)

*Be sure to throw your name in the hat for my “Playing Santa Again” Giveaway. Deadline to enter is 6 p.m. CST this Wednesday.

*Flickr photo by geraldbrazell, Creative Commons License