Archives for November 2008

Holiday Warmth Giveaway!

Since it’s beginning to look — and feel — a lot like Christmas, how about a fun little Holiday Warmth giveaway to kick off the season?! Most of us, except those in the southern reaches of our country, have already felt Jack Frost nipping at our noses, and some have even been treated to their first snowfall of the winter. Along with needing a little Christmas, I’d say we need a little warmth, too!

In Ecclesiastes 4:11, King Solomon asked, “…how can one keep warm alone?” His teaching of “two are better than one” (verse 9) is certainly true, but if you don’t have a friend handy, how about a $10 Starbucks gift card?! :) And since I’d like to help warm your soul as well as your body, the lucky winner will also receive a devotional book — your choice of Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado or Daily Devotions for Writers, both offering a devotion for each day of the year.

To enter for a chance to win the Starbucks card and devotional book simply leave a comment on this post by noon CST Dec. 14th and tell me what your favorite hot drink is. Make it fun and give us details — for example, not just “coffee”, but exactly what flavor or kind of coffee, etc. If I don’t know you personally, be sure to include your email address in your comment. I’ve set the deadline early enough in the month so the winner can give the gift card as a Christmas gift if he or she doesn’t happen to like coffee. And yes, there are such creatures. I am one in fact :)

So what’s my favorite hot drink? Hot chocolate made with milk and lots of chocolate and covered in mini-marshmallows. Mmmm good :) Reality is, though, because I try to watch my sugar intake, I use the no-sugar added Nesquick and limit myself to 7 or 8 mini-marshmallows. If that sounds like a lot, believe me — it’s not. They look pretty lonely floating around in my cup :) It’s just enough, though, to make the no-sugar added Nesquick a little more tasty.

Your turn now. What’s your favorite hot drink? Can’t wait to make at least one of you a little warmer! :)

“for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Psalm 107:9

*Flickr photo by Chris_J

Journal Your Gratitude


Happy Thanksgiving week! In honor of giving thanks, I’d like to pass along a simple but powerful idea. Something that’s changed my life over the past two or three years — and can change yours, too. Something that can alter your perspective at the end of any given day. Something anyone can do.

The life-changing practice I’m alluding to? Keeping a gratitude journal. Now before you think there’s no way you can add one more “chore” to your life, let me assure you I’m not talking about writing lengthy entries of polished prose. I’m talking super simple and super short (unless you just get on a roll and want to keep going!).

At the end of your day, simply think about something that’s happened that you’re thankful for and jot it down in a journal. The journal doesn’t have to be fancy. When I began journaling my gratitude, I used a tiny spiral notebook. After I realized what a treasure it could be, I started using a beautiful journal given to me by a friend (thanks, Teri!). I discovered that having a pretty journal to write in helped make the practice more of a treat to carry out.

I try to jot down my notes of thanksgiving every day. If possible, I even take my journal with me when I travel. You’d be surprised how quickly the days blur together and how fast you can forget the things you’re thankful for if you let it go for awhile. I record anything from major blessings like a long-awaited answer to prayer to smaller things like a short wait in the doctor’s office or an encouraging comment left here on the blog.

If you have a hard time imagining how journaling your gratitude can change your life, just give it a try for a week. I’ve found that on particularly stressful or unhappy days, my spirits are always lightened and lifted when I stop at the end of the day and think back to something good that happened.

Maybe you’ll thank God for the moment you enjoyed watching the leaves drift their way to the ground. Or you might remember the parking spot that opened up at just the right time. You might even thank God for the warmth and protection of your home.

I’m sure you can see how the possibilities are endless — just like our God and His desire to touch our lives with good things. Sometimes we simply forget to notice His blessings. Keeping a gratitude journal will help you be alert to the ways your heavenly Father is watching over you and blessing you, even on the difficult days. It will foster a more positive attitude about the day’s events and give you a more positive outlook for the future.

So go ahead. I challenge you to start celebrating Thanksgiving every day. Treat yourself to a pretty journal and start recording some of your blessings. You will be blessed, God will be blessed by your gratitude, and one day in the future, a loved one may treasure your journal even more than you did! Happy Thanksgiving to all!

“Let us come before him with thanksgiving…” Psalm 95:2a

*I’ll be skipping my mid-week post this holiday week. I’ll be up to my elbows in flour :) See you next week — I’ll be kicking off the Christmas season with a fun little giveaway! :)

*Flickr photo by madelyn * persisting stars, Creative Commons License

The Giver

He did it again. God provided for me again. The past couple of days He gave me the words for my annual Christmas poem.

You might call it an accidental tradition. For some reason, in 1982 I decided to write a poem to stick in my Christmas cards. My parents, like any good parents, loved it, and when the holidays approached the next year, they began dropping hints about wanting another poem for Christmas. Thus, in an effort not to disappoint my parents, I penned another Yuletide ditty, and the tradition was officially born.

For 27 years now, writing a Christmas poem has been on my November to-do list. It didn’t take me long to graduate from that early ditty-stage to truly desiring to write something good — something that would minister to people and point them to the Savior whose birth we celebrate.

Many times the task has felt a little daunting. I still get that feeling in fact. But I’m not sure why. God always graciously gives me an idea or a phrase to get things started and then helps me build the stanzas and craft the words that will convey the message for that season.

Our God is a giver. He gives and gives…and gives again. Not only has He faithfully given me words for my Christmas poems over the years, but He’s granted me words to share with others time and again in other ways, too. He provides the ideas and the help needed to write the posts for this blog twice a week, and for over 11 years, He provided material (usually quoted from someone else) to use on the weekly prayer guides I prepared for our church.

You’d think by now, I’d know not to worry about being able to write something new. After all, I’ve got the ultimate Giver, the ultimate Author, in my corner. I just need to keep looking to Him, to keep asking for His help.

Words, of course, are not the only things that God faithfully gives me. What about you? How has God given to you time and again? Let’s thank the Lord for His gracious provision!

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 KJV

*Flickr photo by D. Sharon Pruitt, Creative Commons License

Early Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving came to our house early a few days ago. A dreaded day came and went. Went better than we ever imagined, in fact. And I’m still thanking God.

We found out a couple of months ago that Don’s mother, who has several serious health problems, needed to have nine or ten teeth pulled as well as some other procedures. Now this would be a big deal for anyone, but for someone whose health is a delicate balancing act, the potential of her world being rocked loomed before us. Add to that her general fear of going to the dentist, and we just didn’t know what might happen.

D-day was Thursday. In spite of the pre-op drugs, she was still plenty nervous. (And who could blame her?) While I settled in with a writing project I brought from home, the receptionist promised to keep me posted. At one point when I heard her coughing and gagging, I had my doubts if they’d be able to get everything accomplished. She managed to hang in there, though, and over two hours later, they wheeled her out, her poor little mouth stuffed with gauze.

I didn’t waste any time getting her back to her assisted living home where an RN and other staff members were on hand to take care of her. As we waited for the pain to set in, imagine our surprise when every time we called or went to check on her for the next couple of days, she was doing just fine. It has been nothing short of amazing.

So yes, we had an early Thanksgiving. I’m thankful the surgery went smoothly, thankful she has been virtually pain-free, thankful she didn’t take any falls while woozy from the drugs, thankful for the staff on hand to care for her, thankful that her world has not been rocked — and yes, I have to admit that I’m thankful that since things went so well for her, my life has been less complicated than it would have been if things had gone differently. God has been good to us. How I thank Him!

Anyone else have reason for early thanksgiving? Jeremiah 30:19 says, “From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing…” Did God bless you in a special way last week? Please share it with us. May songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing ever flow from our lips!

*Flickr photo by rachel_titiriga

Preparing for Peace

I spent the day yesterday preparing for peace. I went Christmas shopping. I’m willing to bet you don’t think those two things go hand in hand, but stay with me a minute. I didn’t say I spent the day in peace — just said I was preparing for it.

The day, in fact, was anything but peaceful. Since we have very little shopping available in our community, my Tulsa days turn into regular marathons, especially when it’s time to start looking for Christmas gifts, too. Talk about a challenge. Snacks, coupons, and list (or should I say game plan?!) in hand, I hit the ground running and didn’t stop until I sat down at Arby’s for a quick bite to eat before heading to my FCW meeting. Even then, I didn’t stop. While eating, I checked things off my list and recorded amounts spent, etc. Crazy, huh?

You know what I’ve discovered, though? A couple of marathon shopping days like this at some point before Thanksgiving sets me up for a more peaceful and relaxed December. Yes, I’ll admit December is still hectic, but my stress level definitely falls if I plan ahead and get most of my shopping done before Christmas music starts filling the airwaves.

You see, I want to enjoy the season. I want to prepare for peace. Christmas is, after all, a celebration of peace –the Prince of Peace coming to bring peace on earth to us all. I don’t want to be so distracted and pressed for time that I miss what the season has to offer, that I miss the joy and peace of reflecting on the Savior… that I miss special moments with Him.

And so I make efforts to plan ahead. Early shopping. Baking things to put in the freezer. Avoiding scheduling appointments in December that aren’t absolutely necessary. These are a few of the things I do to prepare for peace.

How about you? How do you prepare for Christmas peace? If you haven’t started yet, don’t worry. It’s not too late. Why not join me? Let’s do a little planning ahead. Let’s not miss special moments with our Prince of Peace this year.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

*Flickr photo by Luz Adriana Villa A.,Creative Commons License