Archives for December 2013

Christmas Rest


Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as Christmas rest.

Some of you may feel like Christmas rest is the oxymoron to top all oxymorons, but I promise you, dear readers, Christmas rest is possible. It may not come easily or happen without intentional effort, but it can indeed be experienced.

If you’ve read my blog during the holiday season before, you know I draw great inspiration, joy, and peace through the music of Christmas, and this year is no exception. Yes, a beloved Christmas carol shines a light on how we can enjoy some rest during any busy holiday season.

Look closely at the words penned by Edmund Sears in the third verse of “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear.” Its words provide the perfect instructions:

“And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing:
O rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing!”

So how can we experience rest during the Christmas season? We need to stop and pull off that hectic holiday road that’s wearing us out. (I need to take this advice!) We need to sit back and quiet ourselves. We need to listen. As we do, we just might hear the angels sing. As we do, our hearts will fill with peace and joy.

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as Christmas rest.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:13-14 KJV

*How do you experience Christmas rest?

*Don’t miss out on A Little Yuletide Giveaway — throw your name in the hat by 6 p.m. CST this Wednesday the 11th!

*Flickr photo by John-Morgan

Midweek Morsel: A Little Yuletide Giveaway!


If you know me, you know I’ve got to celebrate Christmas here on the blog with a little giveaway. I’ve always enjoyed playing Santa so let the Christmas giveaway tradition continue with a ho-ho-ho and a Merry Christmas! :)

The winner of A Little Yuletide Giveaway will receive a copy of A Prairie Christmas Collection, a large beautiful paperback compilation of nine historical Christmas romances by authors including Tracie Peterson and Deborah Raney. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this special Christmas book, and I know you will, too.

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post by 6 p.m. next Wednesday, December 11th. If I don’t know you personally or cannot contact you via your website or blog, be sure to include your email address (such as cheryl at cherylbarker dot net). It’s not required for the giveaway, but to make it more fun, why not tell everyone what Christmas book (or books) you would recommend for holiday reading.

I’ll kick off our holiday reading recommendations.  Some of my favorites—in addition to the one being given away—include A Simple Amish Christmas by Vanetta Chapman, A Christmas Longing by Joni Eareckson Tada, and I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Thomas Kinkade. Of course, since I have a story in The Spirit of Christmas, compiled and edited by Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson, I’d love to recommend that one as well :)

I’ll announce the winner of A Little Yuletide Giveaway in next Thursday’s Midweek Morsel post. Good luck—and happy December to all! May you draw especially close to God this holiday season!

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’” Luke 2:15

*Added note: Just started reading A Stubborn Sweetness and Other Stories for the Christmas Season by Katherine Paterson, award-winning author of Bridge to Terabithia, and am loving it. Above and beyond most of the other Christmas books I’ve been reading. I’m only a few stories in, but I already highly recommend it. Katherine’s husband is a minister, and she wrote these stories across the span of many years to be read at their Christmas Eve services.

*Photo from

Christmas Gifts for the Bride

The Loot (3)

Christmas-shopping bills plus wedding expenses can equal one slightly stressed (okay, highly stressed) mother of the bride, can’t it? Either one of these particular expenses puts a strain on most of our budgets, but combine them and we’ll be seeing dollar signs in our sleep each night.

So what can you do, Mother of the Bride, to help alleviate a little of the financial pinch that may come your way in December? My oldest daughter Kristin inadvertently sparked one solution while we were planning her wedding. When the holidays rolled around, she told me not to worry about buying any Christmas gifts for her that year because she knew we were already spending a lot on her upcoming wedding. Of course, I didn’t want to forgo Christmas for her, but an idea clicked—why not combine the two?

And you know what? It worked perfectly. I went ahead and purchased the bridal veil she had shown interest in as well as a pair of bridal shoes and a beautiful wedding memories album that could serve as a guest book for the wedding. It also provided a place to record bridal shower and wedding gifts. A dear friend made some lacy garters for her and even decorated a special box for them with a bridal theme. I also gave Kristin a beautiful unity candle set as well as a fun honeymoon photo album. She was delighted.

So remember this, MOB, during the holiday season: A few meaningful wedding-related Christmas gifts for your bride-to-be daughter will strike her as not only fun but special as well while also giving your bank account a bit of a break. Another win-win on the wedding front!

*What other wedding-related items could also make special Christmas gifts?

 *My photo

Press On: God Rewards Perseverance


The business of pursuing dreams and achieving goals is not for the faint of heart, is it? No, seeing our dreams and goals come to pass requires lots of hard work and tireless perseverance. But God has a way of rewarding those things, doesn’t he?

Many of you know I’ve been climbing towards the goal of book publication for a long time now, and today I’m happy to report that I’m one step closer—a big step for which I’m praising God. Credo Communications has offered to represent me, and Karen Neumair is now my literary agent. That’s right—I have an agent!

God is so faithful to reward our hard work and perseverance. After years of working to become a better writer and to develop a platform and online presence, God has helped me secure an agent who will be able to get my book proposal in the right hands—the hands of editors and publishers who will hopefully like what they see and decide to take a chance on this ordinary girl from Kansas. Most publishing houses will only review proposals that are submitted through an agent so you can see why I’m so excited about being offered representation by Karen and Credo.

So today my word of encouragement to those of you pursuing a dream or striving to attain a goal is to press on. Don’t give up. Keep taking one step after another—even tiny steps. Those little steps have a way of adding up and bringing us to the point of a being able to take a very big step. And remember, sometimes it’s little steps alone that bring us to the very brink of seeing our dreams or goals realized. I haven’t yet reached my goal so I will be pressing on right along with all of you.

Let’s thank God for being a God who rewards hard work and perseverance. A God who gives the strength and determination to press on. A God who rejoices with us as He blesses our efforts with wonderful results.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

*All glory and praise goes to God for giving me the strength to press on. What dream are you pursuing? What goal are you striving to attain?

*Photo by my husband Don

Realistic December Wedding Planning

2926585439_b5c2e16d2c_zDecember wedding planning has a different set of rules, Mother of the Bride. And if you break them, sweet friend, you risk not only your sanity but probably a merry Christmas season as well.

A couple of weeks ago I urged you to give yourself a break with time management by saying no to some responsibilities and extra tasks and also by asking for help. But in December the guidelines change slightly. You certainly don’t want to ask anyone for help. Everyone is already overloaded with holiday tasks and events. And from what I hear, it’s not a good time to call on Santa’s elves either.

Saying no to some of your routine responsibilities is still a good idea, though, and if anyone dares to ask you, a mother of the bride, to take on an extra task during the holiday season, not only should they be blasted with a resounding are you crazy, they should also be sentenced to fifty lashes with a peppermint stick.

The main rule, though, for realistic December wedding planning, MOB, is postpone. Yes, postpone any and all wedding planning possible until January arrives. Remembering to live life apart from an all things wedding approach is always good advice but never more so than during the holidays. The holidays should be enjoyed—by you, by the bride and the groom, and by all those living life with you.

If certain tasks must be attended to—like securing a vendor or making a payment on time—do it as quickly as possible and get back to focusing on the special times to be enjoyed during the holidays. Be realistic, MOB, and grant yourself the grace December wedding planning rules afford. You won’t regret it.

*What wedding planning-free activities do you look forward to the most this month?

*Flickr photo by paperladyinvites, Creative Commons License