Let’s Give Ourselves a Time Out—For Gratitude!

Too often we wait until November, the month of thanks—or even the very end of the year—to focus on things we’re grateful for, but let’s take a time out to do it today.

After all, we should have thankful hearts all year long, right? Sometimes we let life blaze past us, forgetting to truly appreciate and express gratitude for the blessings in our lives. So let’s do our best from now on to continually cultivate thankful hearts—and we can start by being intentional about it today.

Since we’ve almost reached the midpoint of 2017, let’s each give some thought to the top ten things we’re most grateful for so far this year. Limiting it to this year will help us focus our thoughts on the most recent events in our lives rather than thinking of the general things that always come to mind when giving thanks.

Here’s my Top Ten Gratitude List thus far for 2017:

  1. I’m thankful for being able to trust God for the outcome of a big personal prayer concern as well as some work-related concerns. So grateful for the peace and rest I find in trusting him.
  2. I’m thankful for the times we’ve spent with our daughters, sons-in-law, and two sets of twin grandsons. So thankful for sweet baby smiles and little boy laughter, for snuggly cuddles and precious hugs. Thankful for trips to the zoo and for seeing baby milestones achieved.
  3. I’m thankful my dad, my sister Carolyn, and I got to go meet the newest member of our extended family—Jaxon, my niece Joanna’s baby and my sister Janice’s first grandbaby.
  4. I’m thankful for God’s Word and how he has used it to guide me and to strengthen and encourage me and how he’s allowed me to share it with others through my writing.
  5. I’m thankful to have reached one of my main author marketing goals for the year—participating in bridal fairs.  This has been a challenge because of high vendor fees, but God has led me to two so far on the lower end of the expense spectrum.
  6. I’m thankful for safe travel in all my trips to see our grandkids and also travel associated with my writing. For example, on one trip to Little Rock, I had three close calls on the interstate. I don’t take safe travel for granted.
  7. I’m thankful for the beautiful job Stephanie Wheatley of Wheatley Design did on the Wedding Inspiration cards I developed. Also very thankful for God’s leading in this project as well as my daughter Kristin’s help with various aspects of it.
  8. I’m thankful for good health for Don and me through cold and flu season. Also very thankful that God kept our grandbabies protected from the flu.
  9. I’m thankful for a quick getaway to Branson with Don in May. It had been over five years since we had been there. It was so good to enjoy Silver Dollar City once again—a place where my entire family has many great memories together.
  10. And finally, I’m thankful Don is carrying a lighter teaching load in summer school this summer. Since his Microbiology class is filled beyond capacity, he could never have kept up with all the extra work that causes plus teach Anatomy & Physiology the way he normally does as well.

So there’s my top ten—how about yours? I think you’ll find that when you get started, it will be hard to stop at ten!

“Come and see what God has done, the amazing things he has done for people.” Psalm 66:5 NCV

*What are you grateful for so far in 2017?

*Flickr photo by RnD.de.Portraits, 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 Sacrifice of Praise

2981762849_f270541979_oOur God is ever worthy of our praise. Won’t you join me in a sacrifice of praise to him today?

Pour out your love to him, pause in speechless wonder, ponder his greatness, and point others to him with your words.

Raise your hands before him, remember all that he’s done, realize the magnificence of our God, and rejoice forevermore.

Approach him with gladness and joy, abide in his presence daily, adore him for who he is, and announce to the world his goodness.

Illumine your darkness with songs of faith, immerse yourself in his love, invite others to join in thanksgiving, and invigorate your prayer life with praise.

Stand before him in awe, savor the wonders of his character, sing from a full heart, and share with everyone your love for him.

Enter his presence with thanks and praise, exalt and lift high his name, entwine your heart with his, and enjoy magnifying so great a Savior!

“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” Psalm 103:1-2

*What or whom are you praising God for today?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out next week. All subscribers are automatically entered for a giveaway in each of the quarterly issues. A $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble will be the prize in this issue. Sign-up for Life Notes is free and to the right!

Blogging Break Plus Our New Grandbabies!

SamSi1 (Si on left, Sam on right)Just in time for Summer Photo Fun—our new set of twin grandbabies are here! That’s right, this is our second set of twin grandbabies in just over 19 months! First Kristin and Shawn made us grandparents to twins, and now it is Kelli and Jake’s turn. Amazing, fun, and miraculous all rolled into one!

So now allow me to introduce our newest little loves—Samuel and Silas! Samuel is on the right above and Silas is on the left. They weighed in at 5 lb 7 oz and 4 lb 3 oz respectively. They arrived almost a month early, but everyone is doing well and we are oh so grateful to God for this new beyond-belief blessing in our lives. Thank you to each one of you who have prayed for them and for Kelli and Jake. Please continue to keep them in your prayers. Samuel and Silas are still in the NICU as of today, learning to eat better on their own and gaining the strength to do so. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this, but we are so in love with our new little guys!

Also, since my summer has already been very busy and since the next several weeks (months and years! Ha!) promise to be extremely busy as well, I’m taking a little blogging break. When I come back after Labor Day, Summer Photo Fun will be over for another year, and I’ll start back with more of the inspirational posts you usually see here. Enjoy the waning days of summer, friends. As for me, I’ll be in Grandma heaven!

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

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*What joy has God blessed you with lately?

*The newest issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out earlier this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Photos by family members

Mother of the Bride Book Coming Soon!

Friends, it’s almost here. Mother of the Bride—Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride releases July 1! Those of you who are on my Life Notes email list (sign-up is free and to the right!) and those of you who follow me on Facebook got your first look at the cover a few days ago, but I wanted to be sure to post it here as well. I absolutely love it!

BroadStreet Publishing has done an amazing job of bringing my vision for the book to life. Last summer when I spoke to them about it, I told them I wanted the book to be beautiful, something that would pamper and minister to MOBs by just holding it in their hands. And I think they hit the ball out of the park. I’m so pleased to be able to offer mothers of the bride a beautiful hardcover book designed especially for them.

Mother of the Bride is at the printer (and is actually available for preorder now), and I am busy with all kinds of marketing preparations. I plan to have a local launch party for the book so if you live anywhere in the vicinity, I’d love to have you join me for that. Closer to time, I’ll create a Facebook event to keep you informed of date, time, and place. Very exciting, huh?!

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to God for the incredible blessing of seeing this book published. My prayer is that it will be a blessing to all who read it and that many, whether mother of the bride or not, will decide to make it their go-to gift for mothers of the bride they know now and in the years to come. Thanks for joining in my joy!

“Come let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving . . .” Psalm 95:1-2a

Here’s a more detailed description of the book for those who are interested:

When women become mothers of the bride, they take on a delightful but demanding new role. While trying to maintain life as they knew it before their daughters’ big announcements, mothers of the bride are also called upon to magically morph into wedding planners, help their daughters navigate the journey to the altar, and establish new and loving relationships with their prospective sons-in-law and their families. With all focus and finances dedicated to the brides and the weddings themselves, the needs of mothers of the bride are often overlooked.

Mother of the Bride helps these special women step away from the hurried pace of daily life complicated by their challenging new role. It offers them the refreshment found in discovering community as they take time for themselves—time to be encouraged, to gain helpful insight and practical tips, and to enjoy the feminine beauty of a book designed just for them.

Through essays featuring relevant quotes or Scriptures, personal stories, nuggets of wisdom, simple suggestions for personal pampering, journaling opportunities, communication aids, and practical tips for wedding planning, Mother of the Bride will nurture the all-important but too often neglected mother of the bride.

*Have you ever been a mother of the bride? Will you be one in the future? Do you know an MOB now?

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