Archives for November 2011

Carol Your Way to Worship

11155059216_f0dc9d47a0_zHave you ever caroled your way to worship? One thing I hope for you this holiday season is many sweet moments of personal worship, and one of the best ways I know to enter into such meaningful times with the Lord is through singing the carols of Christmas.

As the season gets started, I urge you to find a hymnal or songbook of old-time 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 want to 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.

Last year 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 last 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 96:9a

*Flickr photo by infomastern, Creative Commons License

*Don’t forget to enter The Spirit of Christmas Giveaway (below this post). Deadline to enter is noon Dec. 7. Good luck!

The Spirit of Christmas Giveaway!

You know me — I love giveaways. Love entering them and love hosting them—especially holiday giveaways. I wanted to offer this one early in the season since the prize will help make the winner’s days before Christmas a little brighter, a little more meaningful.

I’m giving away a copy of The Spirit of Christmas—a recent release that has a story of mine it. (Yay, huh?!) This book is definitely brightening my season, and I hope it will brighten the winner’s, too—along with readers all across the country. If you already have a copy, go ahead and enter and win one for a family member or friend!

Leave a comment on this blog post by noon Dec. 7, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win The Spirit of Christmas. (I’ll sign the copy if you so request but will send it untouched if you’d prefer). To make it fun, tell me about a time when someone shared the spirit of Christmas with you. If I don’t know you personally or can’t contact you via your own blog, be sure to leave your email address in your comment or you won’t be included in the drawing.

I’ll be the first to share a story. One year many years ago, my sister Debbie and her family traveled from Phoenix to be with us a couple of days prior to everyone gathering at Mom and Dad’s for Christmas. Neighbors of ours at the time, Henry and Faye, heard we were having company and made homemade cinnamon rolls for all of us. As they delivered those yummy pastries, they also delivered a heartwarming dose of Christmas spirit along with them. These are the kinds of surprises and smiles we never forget, right?

Okay, your turn. When did someone deliver some Christmas spirit to you? And while we’re thinking about it, let’s be alert to ways we can share the spirit of Christmas with others this year. Let’s deliver some surprises and smiles that folks will never forget!

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given . . .” Isaiah 9:6a KJV

Fall Family Time

A couple of weeks ago, we enjoyed a wonderful family weekend at my parents’ home, and Thanksgiving week seems like the perfect time to share photos of that special time. As you can see from the shot above, I’m never happier than when my girls are by my side.

We were blessed to have many other family members join us, and we packed a little bit of everything into a couple of days. I hope you enjoy a peek at our time together. I won’t be posting midweek since we’ll all be busy eating turkey, but I hope you enjoy soul-satisfying times with your families this Thanksgiving week!

Kristin and Kelli hit the crafting jackpot when my mom pulled out old quilt squares that had belonged to my grandmother. She had used many of those fabrics to make clothes for my sisters and me. So much fun pointing those out to my girls.

My sister Carolyn and my mom got another project going — making corn bags for any of us that wanted them. So toasty warm straight out of the microwave.

My sister Janice helped hand stitch the ends closed after the bags were filled with corn.

We always find time for silliness around the piano, and this trip was no exception. Kristin is a professional pianist and can even do her thing with a roasted marshmallow in her mouth. And nephews Cody and Gavin are always where the action is :) (Thanks, Dad, for roasting marshmallows for us while we were busy with all our projects!)

I spent some time on the deck taking shots of the gorgeous fall foliage in the afternoon sunlight. I want a backyard view like this someday!


The main men in my life enjoying some deck time — my husband Don, son-in-law Shawn, my dad, and son-in-law Jake.

The weekend wouldn’t be complete without man-handling Gavin :)

The perfect way to end the weekend? The grandkids helped Grandma and Grandpa by putting their Christmas tree up for them!

I am so thankful for the wonderful family time we enjoyed. So thankful for my family. Happy Thanksgiving to all! Enjoy your fall family time!

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other . . .” 1 Thessalonians 3:13a

*Check back next week. I have a little giveaway planned to help make someone’s holiday season merrier!

The Last Hold-Outs

Be on the lookout for them in the next couple of weeks. The last hold-outs of autumn.

These stubborn fall leaves will not “go gentle into that good night” (Dylan Thomas). They will cling tightly to life and refuse—as long as possible—to fulfill their God-given destinies to fall to the ground with the rest of their comrades. You might say if they had fingernails, they’d be hanging on by them.

As we look at these last autumn hold-outs, maybe we need to ask ourselves if there is anything we’re clinging tightly to in spite of God’s direction to let go. Is there anything we’re refusing to submit to Him?

Are we clinging to a behavior or an attitude that the Word of God clearly calls sin? Has the Holy Spirit shone His convicting light on an area we’re not quite ready to let go of yet? Or maybe we’re clinging to a person, a possession, or a goal when God has asked us to loosen our grip. It might even be something new or different we feel God is leading us to do, but we’re still at a point of resisting.

Let’s not be among the last hold-outs from God. Instead, let’s fulfill our God-given destinies. Let’s not refuse Him any longer.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24

*Flickr photo by *clarity*, Creative Commons License

*I have a fun Thanksgiving week post to share with you next time. Be sure to check in Sunday evening or in the days following (that will be my only post during the holiday week). Hope you get a chance to drop by!

Giveaway Winner Plus More: Soup’s On!

After giving new folks ample time to sign up for my newsletter and get in on the drawing, today’s the day to announce the Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway winner. I used RANDOM.ORG to select the winner, and that lucky Life Notes subscriber is Sharon G.! Congratulations, Sharon, and thanks for being a subscriber! I’ll send the $25 Barnes & Noble gift card to you as soon as you send me your snail mail address.

I wish I could send each of you subscribers a gift card — I appreciate you all so much! But since I can’t do that, how about another gift to show my appreciation? How about a favorite family recipe for the cool-weather months?

That’s right! Soup’s on today for any of you who are interested! Any potato soup fans out there? Below is a recipe I got from my friend Kristi when I was just a newlywed. Everyone in our family loves it, and I hope you will, too.

Do you have a favorite soup recipe? Please share it with us in the comments. On behalf of everyone, I’ll thank you in advance! :)

Potato Chowder

4 strips bacon
2/3 c. chopped onion
4 c. diced raw potatoes
1 c. sliced carrots
4 c. boiling water
2 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. sage leaves
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 t. paprika
2 t. dried parsley flakes
4 Tbsp. flour
4 c. milk

Fry bacon in pot large enough for soup. Remove bacon, add onions, and saute until limp.

Add potatoes, carrots, water, and salt. Cover and cook till vegetables are tender. Add seasonings.

Blend flour with 1/2 c. of milk then add with the remaining milk to the mixture in the pot, stirring constantly. Heat till slightly thickened.

Crumble bacon & sprinkle over soup. Serves 8-10. Even better reheated!

I hope you enjoy this little recipe-gift of appreciation. Everyone stay warm in the cold days ahead!

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights . . .” James 1:17a

*Flickr photo by cogdogblog

*Still not too late to get the latest issue of Life Notes. Sign up is free and to the right!