Theme Word 2018: Listen

Any other theme word junkies like me out there? Yes, I am indeed hooked on the practice of choosing a theme word for each new year. For a goal-oriented gal like me it seems only natural to have an over-arching word—a quality, an attitude, or an action—that I can focus on and that can give me direction throughout the year. 

In November and/or December I start thinking and praying about what my word for the upcoming year should be. Some years I think I know what it will be and then the Lord brings another word to mind or to my attention through multiple avenues. When that happens I know God is at work directing me to the word he has for me in the upcoming year. I so appreciate his guidance. After all, he knows the future and he knows what I need to help guide me through it.

This year the Lord has directed me to the word listen. As usual at this early stage, I don’t know all the ways God will use this particular theme word in my life over the next twelve months. I just know it’s a word I’ve been noticing and that has been resonating in my spirit. And so, I want to listen to those inner nudges and begin to focus more on listening this year.

So here’s hoping by the end of 2018 I will have grown in my listening skills. Listening more often and more attentively to God, to my loved ones, to others, to the natural world, and even to myself—to what my body or spirit may be trying to tell me.

And as ever, it will interesting to see what God has in store this year and how he will use listen in my life. He has a way of surprising us, doesn’t he? So I say, “Lord, help me keep my ears and my spirit wide open so I don’t miss a thing!” 

“. . . Everyone should be quick to listen . . . ” James 1:19

*Have you chosen a theme word or anchor verse for 2018? If not, feel free to adopt mine!

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

*Flickr photo by mpeterke, Creative Commons License

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

Instead of Tossing the Bridal Bouquet

Mother of the Bride, some brides may be looking for an alternative to tossing the bridal bouquet. Have you and your daughter talked about that age-old tradition yet? If not, strike up the conversation with her and find out if she’d be interested in doing something a little different.

One option I’ve heard about is that instead of tossing the bridal bouquet to the single gals in the crowd, the bride gives each one a flower from her bouquet and takes a moment to pray with her, asking God to help her wait on the man God has for her. Each young woman or girl goes home with a meaningful memento and memory of that special moment with the bride as well as encouragement to wait for the best.

If your daughter wants to keep or preserve her bridal bouquet, simply order a tossing bouquet from the florist and use that one as the giveaway bouquet. The bride’s gesture will be just as meaningful and create special memories just the same.

So go ahead, MOB—share this idea with your daughter and see what she thinks. She may want to stick with the age old tradition—and that’s fine—but she may get super excited over such a meaningful alternative and say “Let’s do it!”

*You might also be interested in Green Wedding Trend: Rent and Borrow More Items.

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

*Flickr photo by Flower Factor, Creative Commons License

Christmas Poem 2016: A Christmas Letter to God


*Holiday blogging break details at end of post.

Believe it or not, friends, I’ve been writing an annual Christmas poem for thirty-four years now. That’s a long time by anybody’s standards, isn’t it?

Sometimes I wonder how I’ll be able to come up with an idea for yet another Christmas poem, but I really shouldn’t worry. God is always faithful to give me the seed of an idea and then guide me as I write, helping me to find just the right words or turns of phrase. Yes, it usually takes a lot of trial and error to get there, but God is faithful to help me birth the finished project.

All of our abilities come from him, don’t they? I’m so grateful he’s given me the privilege of touching people’s hearts and lives through the written word. May you be blessed by this year’s poem, my friends!

A Christmas Letter to God

Dear Lord, Christmas finds us sending greetings
To loved ones far and near,
Cards and letters filled with love
And wishes for the coming year.

This year I long to send this letter
Overflowing with thanks and love
To you, my God, my Lord, my Savior,
My King and Counselor from above.

My message this Christmas is simple, Lord,
As I think of you coming to earth,
Coming to live among us,
Bringing new life, giving new birth.

My heart and my pen cry out today,
“Thank you, Father, for sending,
Thank you, Jesus, for coming,
Thank you, Spirit, for staying!”

With love,
Cheryl, 2016

“‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” Matthew 1:23 NIV

*What’s one thing you’d want to tell God if you wrote him a Christmas letter?

*I’ll be taking a blogging break until after the first of the year while everyone is busy preparing for and celebrating Christmas. May you enjoy sweet times with loved ones and have a truly blessed celebration of our Savior’s birth, my friends. See you in 2017!

*Flickr photo by E V Peters, Creative Commons License

Summer Photo Fun: Name This Location!


Are you ready, friends, for some more Summer Photo Fun? Each year during July and early August (when my husband is on break from teaching), I feature some fun photo posts rather than my usual inspirational/devotional style posts. I like to take a more casual approach to blogging for a few weeks and hopefully you’ll still leave here feeling refreshed, encouraged, or nourished in some way.

Today let’s have a little “Name This Location” challenge. Who can tell me where the photo above was taken? Let’s see who can turn in the first correct guess!

I hope you’re having a wonderful summer and getting to do a little traveling and photo-taking of your own. Enjoy your location today wherever you are!

“‘I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go . . .’” Genesis 28:15a

*So what’s the location above? Good luck with your guess!

*My photo

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