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

My Life in One Word: Blessed

Two sets of twin grandsons (left to right – Isaiah, Silas, Samuel, James)

(Fyi, I won’t be posting during Thanksgiving week. Everyone enjoy your time with loved ones!)

Have you noticed the challenge on Facebook over the past few weeks to describe your life in one word? Because of time restraints, I usually fly right past Facebook games and challenges, but this one caught my attention. This one was worthy of thought. And not just worthy of thought, but as a blogger always alert to new post ideas, I decided it would make a timely, thought-provoking blog post during this month of thanks. 

So how would I describe my life in one word? I had to think only a second before the answer came. My life in one word is blessed. At other seasons of life, the answer may have been different—as yours may be. But right now, the word blessed sums up my life pretty well.

I am blessed in my personal life. The picture above is evidence. Just look at those four sweet boys. Above and beyond blessings. In amazing answers to years of prayers, God blessed with two babies for our older daughter and her husband—and then blessed again with two babies for our younger daughter and her husband! Yes, God gave us two sets of twin grandsons! Double blessings doubled, huh?

Of course, I am blessed personally in many other regards as well. My husband and I will soon celebrate forty-two years of marriage, our daughters have been and continue to be two of the greatest blessings of our lives, and we have two wonderful and God-honoring sons-in-law as well as extended family relationships and decades-long friendships. Yes, I am extremely blessed by God.

In addition, I am blessed in my professional life. After years of hard work to position myself for possible book publication, God opened the door for my book Mother of the Bride to be published last year. A dream come true for sure. I also feel incredibly blessed to be part of the BroadStreet Publishing family and to be represented by Karen Neumair of Credo Communications, all godly folks who seek to glorify God through the books they help bring to life.

Through my work life as a writer and author, I’ve also made a host of new friends and acquaintances in the business. I feel incredibly blessed to be connected to such a fine group of people. We offer each other encouragement, support, instruction, and empathy as we understand the unique challenges and joys of the writing life. 

And finally—and most importantly—I am blessed in my spiritual life. The God of the universe is my Father, his Son Jesus is my Savior, and the Holy Spirit is my Counselor, my Comforter, and Friend. The Three in One loved me even though I was a sinner and they continue to love me unconditionally. They walk with me through life each day and I have the promise of life in heaven with them for eternity. I can know these things because God has given me the Bible, his Holy Word, to provide me with truth and to be my guidebook through life.

God has also blessed me with the spiritual gift of encouragement, and through the abilities he’s given me to write, he has allowed my written words to touch many lives—some I won’t know about until I get to heaven.

Yes, friends, I am blessed. And no matter what may come in the future, I pray I’ll always be able to see God working in my life. I pray I’ll always see his blessings.

“Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.” Psalm 84:12

*How would you describe your life in one word?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. 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.)

*My photo

Double the Cute with Double Ring Bearers and Flower Girls

Mother of the Bride, if the soon-to-be Mr. & Mrs. in your life would like to have a ring bearer and flower girl in their wedding party, why not double the cute factor and have two ring bearers and/or two flower girls? This may not be possible given the members of yours and the groom’s families or friends, but if it is, having two of each serve in these roles is definitely guaranteed to up the cuteness factor during the wedding and also add to the precious memories of the day.

The ring bearers featured here today just happen to be my first set of twin grandsons. They served as ring bearers at my nephew’s wedding this summer. How could I not share this idea and these photos with you? No self-respecting grandma in the world would miss such an opportunity, right?

Isaiah and James were just 2 ½ years old at the time of the wedding, but they did great. Mommy and Daddy made sure they got scooted off down the aisle at the appropriate time, and I was stationed up near the front with fruit snacks—the promised treat they would get if they took the pillows down the aisle and gave them to their cousin Cody. As soon as they accomplished their task, they came and sat with me. No need to have them at the front any longer than necessary, getting squirmy and doing who knows what. Ha! (And yes, two flower girls also added to the festivities.)

Precious memories were made and adorable photos captured. Why not ask your sweet girl and her guy if they’d like to double the cute factor at their wedding? Just make sure Grandma has fruit snacks at the ready!

*You might also like to read Flower Girl and Ring Bearer Serve as Sign Bearer, and Man’s Best Friend as Ring Bearer. 

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble 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.)

*Photos by Stephtphotography

Wedding Resource: Prayers for the Mother of the Bride

Mother of the Bride, if you are a Christian mom who would like to prayerfully prepare for your daughter’s wedding and her new status as a married woman, be sure to read author Traci Matt’s new book Prayers for the Mother of the Bride.

You may remember hearing about Traci Matt here on my blog once before. Earlier this year I reviewed her book Prayers for the Mother of the Groom. Isn’t it wonderful that mothers of the bride can now be blessed by a similar prayer resource!

Prayers for the Mother of the Bride is a wonderfully thorough and insightful prayer handbook for Christian moms who want to cover their daughters, themselves, their families, and the entire bridal party in prayer as they all go through the life-changing event of a wedding.

Like Matt’s book for mothers of the groom, this book is designed in a two-month countdown fashion. She points out in the introduction that readers can start using it at any time during the engagement and possibly go through it more than once. Mother of the Bride, I would definitely advise you to begin using it much earlier than the two-month mark. Many of the topics covered are applicable in the early stages of wedding planning so you don’t want to miss the blessing of considering those topics and praying about them at the appropriate time.

Also as in Matt’s earlier book, each of the sixty selections feature an introductory paragraph or two about some aspect of the wedding or the changing family dynamic and then includes an in-depth prayer addressing the topic of the day. Matt’s prayers spring from the truths and insights she’s gleaned from the Word of God and from her own personal experience as both a mother of the bride and a mother of the groom. After each selection she adds “Something Borrowed”—a quote applicable to that day’s topic.

In this nicely done self-published paperback book, you will discover a biblically based, heartfelt guide for you own prayers, MOB. As a writer, I might have done a few things differently where organization and approach are concerned, but Matt is a skillful writer with godly insight and an easy-to-read writing style. I’m sure you will enjoy using this resource and be blessed immensely by it.

So MOB, if Prayers for the Mother of the Bride sounds like something you would be interested in, I encourage you to treat yourself to a copy of it today. It will be well worth the investment!

*You might also like to read Gift Idea: Prayers for the Mother of the Groom and A Prayer for the Newlyweds.

*Thanks to the author for providing me with the book and photo. The opinions expressed are my own.

 

Guest Post: The Pruner’s Knife

I’m thrilled to share a guest post by my dad, Duane Hoy, today. He is eighty-three years young and has known the Lord since age twelve. May his insightful words and message bless you in a special way today!

The Pruner’s Knife

As I sit at my breakfast table and look out the sliding glass doors, I’m able to look a few feet beyond my patio and see my new young Royal Star magnolia.

It is not to be confused with other large varieties of magnolia trees. It is more naturally a bush but can be trained to grow more like a tree by cutting all but the strongest trunk and letting it grow like a small tree. It’s a very early bloomer being covered with snowy pure white blooms, this spring starting in mid-February.

My landscaper planted mine a year ago in the spring after I spotted it at a nursery in west Tulsa on the other side of the Arkansas River.

My heart was immediately set on getting one for my backyard, fulfilling a very long-held desire. I enjoyed three wonderful weeks of glistening snow-white blooms this last spring.

I am so wonderfully reminded of a beautiful individual who had a small to medium size Royal Star magnolia in his backyard.

Bro. John Howard and his wife Grace lived in a small block house on N. Grand in Pittsburg, KS, where our young family had moved in the early 1960s.

After thirty years of missionary service in India, Bro. John and Grace came back home to Pittsburg. He never owned a car but walked his routes in  Pittsburg, still being a missionary for another thirty years.

A very kind and gentle man, he would walk to our house way out on the north end of town to pay a short visit and pray for us and especially our four little girls—that they would develop into the godly women they are today. Then I would drive him back home. Needless to say, he was indelibly printed on my heart in a forever way.

As I observed my magnolia a few weeks after its blooming, I noticed the new growth was coming out in more of a horizontal direction. As it is yet only four to four and one half feet tall, I wanted it to grow in an upward direction, so I took the sharpest blade on my knife and made several studied cuts, removing the end growths on some limbs, hoping for the best. Some weeks later here in mid-June with plenty of rain, quite a bit of new growth is flourishing. Sure enough it is reaching in an upward direction.

This caused me to reflect on my own life and maybe you too have experienced some difficult circumstances, ones that might cause us to wince and cry out in pain.

Could it be that our master gardener is seeking some upward growth in our lives, reaching up to Him?

“‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener . . . every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.’” John 15:1-2 NIV

How has God used his pruner’s knife in your life lately?

The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. 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.)

*My photo