Christmas Moments: Carol Your Way to Worship

Have you ever caroled your way to worship? I have. And one of the best ways I know to enter into sweet moments of personal worship is through singing the carols of Christmas.

As the season gets started, I urge you to find a hymnal or a songbook of classic Christmas carols and choose one to sing each day in your quiet moments with God. You probably know many of these long-time favorites by heart, but I encourage you to find the words written out somewhere so you can sing all the verses. I promise you will find treasure you have forgotten about or never knew was there.

Several years ago while singing “O Holy Night!” during one of my personal worship times, the Lord ministered such encouragement to me through the last half of the second verse—the verse that is usually left out when we sing it in groups or hear it performed. How grateful I am I didn’t leave it out as I sang privately to him that Christmas season.

Join me today, won’t you, and carol your way to worship this holiday season. Here is “O Holy Night!” to get you started (text by John S. Dwight; melody by Adolphe Adam). May the King of kings minister to your heart as you sing to him!

“O holy night! the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;
Fall on your knees, Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand;
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend;
He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace;
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name;
Christ is the Lord, Oh, praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim.”

“Worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness . . .” Psalm 96:9 NIV

*Which carol would you like to sing next as you carol your way to worship?

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

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*I hope this slightly revised encore post from Nov. 2011 blessed you today!

*Flickr photo by infomasternCreative Commons License

Beautiful Entry to Worship

“Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful. . .” Acts 3:2 NIV

Certain words or phrases from the Word of God can really resonate with our spirits, can’t they? That’s how I feel when I read the phrase “the temple gate called Beautiful.” As I read it, my spirit says yes.

This scripture, of course, refers to the entry to the temple in Jerusalem not long after Jesus’s resurrection and ascension. My NIV text note tells me that this gate was, in fact, the favorite entrance to the temple court. How fitting that it should be known as Beautiful. What better name could there be for a gate that gave entry to the house of God, that people passed through on their way to worship?

Today our entry—our privilege of entering the Lord’s presence—is still Beautiful. What’s more, we don’t have to go to the temple (or our local church) to do it. With a simple turning of our thoughts . . . or lifting of our eyes . . . or falling to our knees . . . or bowing of our heads . . . or whisper of his name, we can enter into worship wherever we are. All we need to do is turn to him.

Turning to him—a beautiful entry indeed.

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;” Psalm 95:6 NIV

*If you had the chance to name an entry into the Lord’s presence, what would you call it?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $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.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by mkreynessCreative Commons License

Church in a Condo? You Bet!

Have you ever had church in a condo? We enjoyed just such a time a few years ago during our family vacation to beautiful Colorado.

That Sunday started off extra sweet as Kelli and Jake made cinnamon roll pancakes for us for breakfast. (And yes, they tasted every bit as good as they sound!) But what was even sweeter is what happened next. Church happened. Right in the midst of our family. Right at the dining room table.

While everyone chatted, I slipped away for a moment. When I returned with my Bible, I was pretty sure my girls knew what I was up to since they had grown up with good ole Mom trying to jumpstart some kind of family share time during holidays or vacations. During their teen years, protests or groans usually ensued but not anymore.

No, this time a slice of heaven on earth—at least to this mom’s heart—transpired. I began our share time by reading one of my favorite Bible passages and then suggested that everyone else either share their one of their favorite scriptures or tell what God had been doing in their lives lately.

Along with my husband, one by one our daughters and our sons-in-law shared scriptures and stories of how God was teaching them something or encouraging them in some way. Bottom line? We had church. What a blessing to sit back and listen to our adult kids talk about the Lord and his Word. What a blessing to see our kids walking in the truth.

Church in a condo? You bet. No greater joy . . . no greater joy.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4 NIV

*Where’s the most unusual place you’ve ever had church?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out Aug. 1st. 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.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Hope this updated encore post from Aug. 2011 blessed you today!

*Flickr photo by ALM PortraitsCreative Commons License

7 May Stress Busters

Happy May to one and all! Not only does the arrival of a new month have us looking at what’s in store in the weeks ahead, but here on my blog it signals it’s time for the next installment in my year-long Stress Busters blog series. Fingers crossed that you look forward to each one!

Since I started sharing the stress busters last September—and with the way time is flying—it won’t be long until I’ve completed the full set of month-appropriate stress busters. I so hope they have blessed you.

The month of May is often second only to December in its busy factor so I pray the following May stress busters will provide the refreshment you may need. Here’s to making it through May with interludes of peace and joy in the midst of the end-of-the-school-year dashing to and fro. Be blessed my friends!

May Stress Busters

  1. Since April showers bring May flowers, soak up the beauty and fragrance of flowers at least one day this month. Go for a walk through a flower garden or a park that features a generous display of flowers. Or if you have the chance, visit a botanical garden. Let the amazing and delicate wonder of flowers refresh your spirit.
  2. In spite of the extremely busy schedule you may have this month, take time each day to be with God. Whether looking up to the heavens or kneeling before him, spend moments in praise and worship. Talk to him, telling him all of your concerns. Hear his voice as you read his Word. Commune with the Father and let him fill you with peace and joy.
  3. If your mother is still with you, treat yourself (and her!) to a visit or a nice long phone call or FaceTime session at some point around Mother’s Day. Mothers are often our best encouragers so let her love, support, and encouragement minister to your soul. If this isn’t possible with your mom for some reason, do it with another one of the great encouragers in your life.
  4. Be intentional about taking rest. Schedule it on the calendar if necessary. It may mean leaving Saturday mornings open so you can sleep in. Or you may need to say no to Sunday afternoon commitments so you can luxuriate in the all-important Sunday afternoon nap. For others, it may be blocking off time to relax with a good book or a round of golf. Whatever form it takes, provide yourself with respites of rest.
  5. Join in the celebrations of May (end of school year, graduations, weddings, etc.) or create one of your own. Not only accept that invitation to a party, but decide to celebrate something—no matter how big or small—that’s going on in your own life. Let celebrations provide joy in the midst of the pressures of life.
  6. Like December, May is another good month to opt for simple meals. Take a few hours early in the month one day and prepare some freezer meals or go outside and grill up a variety of meat to keep handy in the freezer. For other days, plan to fix your easiest meals or take advantage of your favorite take-out places. Ease your stress with no hassle meal prep this month.
  7. With Memorial Day in mind, spend some time writing down or recording on video some of your favorite memories and stories of loved ones who have passed. Our memories savored internally are wonderful, but wouldn’t it be great to have some of them recorded for yourself and others? Don’t make this harder than it is—relax and let your memories spill out of a heart of love. This interlude from present day demands will be good for your soul. 

May these stress-busting ideas help you relax and refresh during the whirlwind otherwise known as May. Blessings to you, my friends!

“‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” Mark 6:31 NIV

*Which of these stress busters would you like to try this month?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out this week. One lucky subscriber will receive a $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.) p.s. It is too late to get in on this issue’s giveaway, but if you subscribe, you will be included in all future Life Notes giveaways.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo — featuring my darling grandson Isaiah :)

Guest Blogger Jane M. Tucker: Praise Ye the Lord! In Celebration of Hymns

When I spend my daily time with the Lord, I like to incorporate sacred music in my worship. Sometimes I look up a current-day worship song on YouTube, but I find the very act of picking up my phone distracts me from my purpose. More often, I turn to an old hymnal for inspiration.

Many hymns, such as “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “Be Thou My Vision”, anchor my faith in its deep childhood roots. I sing these hymns, and I’m once again standing with the congregation while organ music swells around us, repeating the same words our ancestors once sang. I sing those beloved old tunes boldly to the Lord, my unremarkable voice reverberating in my empty living room.

I don’t always sing from my hymnal. Sometimes I run across an unfamiliar hymn, whose tune I can’t decipher without help. On those days I content myself with reading the verses aloud. Many a hymn started life as a heart-stirring poem before it was ever set to music. Consider the fourth verse of “O Worship the King”:

“Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender! How firm to the end!
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.”

Are you looking for inspiration for your personal worship times? Consider dusting off your old hymnal (or buying one second-hand—they’re cheap these days). Hymns are a treasure trove of faith-filled thoughts.

May the hymns of the past bless your worship time today!

“O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord,
Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.”
Psalm 95:1 NASB

*Do you have a favorite hymn or worship song? Won’t you share it with me in the comments?

Here are a few hymn titles to start with:

“Come Thou Almighty King”
“Crown Him with Many Crowns”
“When Morning Gilds the Skies”
“Holy, Holy, Holy”
“Amazing Love”
“Christ the Solid Rock”
“Praise Ye the Lord, The Almighty”

*Photo by Michael Maasen on Unsplash

Jane M. Tucker is a lifelong writer and reader with a deep love for the art of storytelling. Her Midwestern roots inspire the stories she tells, both in her books and on two blogs: Postcards from the Heartland, and Midwest Almanac. Jane is the author of the Lottie Braun series, about an Iowa girl with a big gift for music, and the sister she loves with all her heart. Lottie’s Gift and Lottie’s Hope are available at Amazon.com and Crossrivermedia.com.


Follow Jane on social media:

Website: JaneMTucker.com
Facebook: Jane M. Tucker Author
Twitter: @JaneMTuckerAuth
Instagram: JaneMTucker

From Cheryl:

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber will receive a $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.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and my Wedding Inspiration cards check out my Books/My Work page.