Season of Anticipation

5387409984_a2e741f923_z*Giveaway winner announced below!

Ah, the days leading up to Christmas… Such a season of anticipation. We find ourselves looking forward to many things with excitement — visits with family and friends, giving our loved ones special gifts, indulging in our favorite holiday treats, helping make Christmas a little merrier for a hurting soul, or carrying out our well-loved traditions. We each could add our own personally anticipated events to the list, couldn’t we?

I pray that reflecting on the coming of our Savior and time spent worshiping Him will be at the very center of our season of anticipation this year. Let’s take time each day to celebrate the fact that our Savior was indeed born so many years ago. Let’s not wait until Christmas Eve to begin our Christmas worship.

One good way to do this is with music. As you sing the carols of Christmas this holiday season, truly think about the message of each verse. With songs that have become so familiar, it’s easy to merrily sing along but fail to actually hear the messages of the carols with our hearts. Let’s not miss those messages this year. Let’s sing with our hearts.

There’s no better time to start than now. Join me in hearing afresh the message of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” as we sing our worship today! (This is one of several versions of the Latin hymn, author unknown.)

“O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high,
Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!”

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matthew 1:23 KJV

*What special things are you anticipating this Christmas season?

*The winner of the Kick Off the Holiday Giveaway is . . .  Joanna! Congrats and Merry Christmas, Joanna! I’ll put your copy of Mother of the Bride along with the Starbucks gift card in the mail today!

*Hope you enjoyed this encore presentation of one of my December 2010 blog posts!

*Flickr photo by johanneschnelldorfer, Creative Commons License

Giveaway to Kick Off the Holiday Season!

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Mother of the Bride, I’m kicking off the holiday season with a giveaway that’s perfect for you. Over on my home page, I’m giving away a signed copy of my book Mother of the Bride: Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride along with a $15 Starbucks gift card. Sound good to you? I thought it might!

So without further ado, I’ll send you over to that post where you can find all the details on how to enter. Good luck—I hope this helps give you a merry start to the season!

Enter here: Kick Off the Holiday Giveaway!

*You might also like to read Mother of the Bride, Enjoy December! and Christmas Gifts for the Bride.

*Flickr photo by Daniel Y. Go, Creative Commons License

Kick Off the Holiday Giveaway!

11377205686_d2fd287fe8_zNow that Thanksgiving has come and gone, let’s kick off the holiday season with a little giveaway. You may remember that I’m doing most of my giveaways through my Life Notes newsletter now (sign-up is free on the right sidebar), but I can’t let the Christmas season go by without playing Santa here on my blog. It’s just part of who I am! :)

This Christmas I’m giving away a $15 gift card to Starbucks as well as a signed copy of my book Mother of the Bride: Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride. Most everyone enjoys getting a gift card to Starbucks, and if you’re not a mother of the bride, you can give the book as a gift or donate it to your public or church library. I would love to see the book make its way into more libraries!

To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment on this post by noon (CST) next Monday December 5th. I’ll announce the winner the next day in my regular Tuesday blog post. (Because of high shipping costs, you must have a U.S. mailing address to be eligible to win.)

Any comment will do, but maybe you could tell me what you will do with the book if you win. Are you a mother of the bride who will hang on to it for dear life? Will you give it as a gift? Will you donate it to a library? Maybe you will keep it for future use. Or maybe you just want a copy of my book and don’t have one yet. Believe it or not, you don’t have to be a mother of the bride to enjoy reading it! Lots of personal stories included and wisdom that can be applied to a variety of situations.

You may earn an additional entry if you’re a current or new Life Notes subscriber (sign-up is free on the right sidebar), and you can earn another entry if you Like (or have already Liked) my Cheryl Barker, Writer Facebook page. Just mention if you’ve done these things in your comment to get your extra entries!

Now here’s to a blessed holiday season to one and all. May you each feel our Savior’s presence in a wonderful way this Christmas season!

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 NIV

*Flickr photo by Daniel Y. Go, Creative Commons License

An Overflowing Heart for Thanksgiving

3339606759_265dc7c515Aren’t you thankful for a month when we can celebrate thankfulness? A month when all across our vast nation we each remember the blessings we have and offer God thanks for them?

The details of our thanks may vary from year to year, but the underlying truth remains the same—the countless gifts God gives fill our hearts with thanks and praise.

 I originally shared the poem “Overflowing Heart” on my blog in November 2007 (the first Thanksgiving after I started blogging), but it’s filled with even more truth and meaning for me today as God has continued to pour blessings into my life. Yes, today my heart overflows even more.

May my “Overflowing Heart” give rise to your own this holiday season. And may God continue to bless you all richly, my friends!

Overflowing Heart

On this Thanksgiving Day
My heart is overflowing,
The blessings in my life, dear Lord,
Just seem to keep on growing.

How can I ever thank you,
Where can I begin,
To show my appreciation
For the forgiveness of my sin?

Apart from you I am nothing,
No glory is my own,
From your hand comes all I have,
Your goodness I’ve always known.

My health, my home, my family,
You’ve given me by grace,
Help me, Lord, to give them back
To serve you in life’s race.

Oh God of all the universe,
I will ever sing your praise,
I will forever thank you,
I will honor you all of my days!

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life . . .” Psalm 23:5-6a NIV

*What blessings are you especially thankful for today?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out early this month. It’s not too late to receive it. I feature a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue so don’t miss out. Sign-up is free on the right sidebar!

*I won’t be posting during the holiday week next week. See you back here on the 29th!

*Flickr photo by Sangre-La.com, Creative Commons License

A Mother of the Bride’s Thanksgiving Prayer

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May this Mother of the Bride’s Prayer of Thanksgiving help you express to God what’s in your heart this year, dear MOB!

Dear Lord,

My heart is filled with thanksgiving this year as I help my precious daughter prepare for her wedding. These are once-in-a-lifetime days, and I’m so grateful to be sharing such an exciting journey with her. Thank you, Lord, for granting us this amazing time together.

Father, as I see my sweet girl take on this new role of bride-to-be and soon-to-be wife, my heart swells afresh with love for her. Not only has she grown into a beautiful woman, she has become a funny, smart, kind, and loving person. I am so very proud of her and I thank you, Lord, for allowing me the great privilege of being her mom.

And how can I ever thank you for bringing such a fine young man into her life to be the love of her life and share the rest of her days with her? I pray that you’ll draw them even closer to one another in these months preceding their wedding. Help them form a bond that nothing will ever break, and help them to always look to you and desire to honor you in their marriage and in all that they do.

Lord, help me to be a mother of the bride who is truly helpful and encouraging in every way. Help me to be the support that my daughter needs now and help me to develop a sweet and loving relationship with my soon-to-be son-in-law. I pray I will be a mother they can always count on and a friend who will walk with them through whatever the future may hold. Help me to be a blessing to them, Lord!

Yes, Lord, my heart is filled with thanksgiving this year. How I thank and praise you!

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3

*You might also like to read Spirit and Soul Refreshment for the Mother of the Bride. And from my home page, you might like A Prayer for Couples You Know.

*Since the readership of this blog is ever-changing, I hope this encore post from November 2014 is a real blessing to you today, MOB!

*Also note I won’t be posting next week during the holiday week but will see you back here on the 29th. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

*It’s not too late to receive the current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter. I offer a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue so don’t miss out. Sign-up is free on the right sidebar!

*Flickr photo by JFXie, Creative Commons License