Christmas Rest Is Possible – Plus My Blogging Break

*I’ll be taking my annual holiday blogging break until the first of the year. Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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 it’s the music of Christmas—a beloved Christmas carol—that can shine a light on one important way to 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 may be wearing us out. 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?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes out in early February. 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.) Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

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

*Flickr photo by John-Morgan, Creative Commons License

Change Your Outlook: Focus on Pros Instead of Cons

Have you noticed how almost every situation or circumstance in life contains both pros and cons? Sometimes when we’re battling with the cons, it can be difficult to see the pros, but it’s always possible if we try. If nothing else, we can see how the negative situation can help us grow in some way—patience, perseverance, forgiveness, trust in God, etc.

I had to put this principle to work several years ago concerning our neighborhood. If I wasn’t careful, I let a couple of cons—and I don’t mean crooks, I mean negative things—really get on my nerves and suck the joy out living where we do. And it was nothing horrific—just a lack of consideration.

So to keep the negative thinking at bay, I tried to remember the positive things—the pros. When I stepped outside at the right time in the morning, I could hear church bells calling children to school. And nothing says “fall” like being able to hear the high school marching band practicing a few blocks away. We also had some nice neighbors (and still do) and were in a convenient location for the most part. As I looked at the pros, I was reminded how good we actually have it in our neighborhood.

Are you faced with a situation where it might be helpful to balance the cons out with the pros? A situation where some time spent looking at the positive might change your outlook? I’ll fess up to another. I have an ongoing struggle with my attitude concerning our community and all the things it doesn’t have to offer. Maybe I need to make a trusty list and look at the pros, huh?

“. . . if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV

*When has focusing on the positive helped change your outlook and attitude?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. 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 Wiertz SebastienCreative Commons License

Time To Hole Up

Holed Up in Winter

Arctic weather isn’t the only reason I hole up when I can in January. After December’s demands and any traveling I do, I often need some catch-up time and a bit of a slower pace. I need to be at home.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t lounge on the sofa eating bon-bons—though that sounds pretty good. No, I faithfully work on writing projects and take care of the stuff of life that has needed my attention. And I’ve got to admit it’s a welcome change after a season of increased demand.

Do any of you hole up when you get the chance too? I’ve found that whether we’re forced to stay put due to weather or we choose to sequester ourselves for some regrouping or restoration, we usually feel ready to break out after a time and experience life in the greater world again. We get rested, recharged, and . . .  a little stir crazy!

It’s not so different in our spiritual lives. There are times when we need to slow down and catch up a bit. Times when we need to hole up and be “at home” with the Lord. If we’ll take that time, I bet we’ll find ourselves feeling rested, recharged, and . . . yes, ready to break out. Ready to do the work God calls us to do with fresh energy.

So where are you right now? Feeling a little stir crazy or are you needing some time to hole up? Wherever you are, whatever you do, do it with the Lord. He faithfully offers a welcome change!

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

*Hope this slightly revised encore post from January 2010 blessed you today!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. 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 MuffetCreative Commons License

Wedding Budget Tip: Prioritize and Trim

Mother of the Bride, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when thinking of all the expenses coming at you while planning a wedding. The whole process can start to feel like a runaway train you can’t seem to slow down. Soon you can find yourself engulfed in emotions like panic and dread instead of excitement and joy.

Here’s a wedding budget tip that can help: Prioritize and then trim. Talk with the bride and groom and have them decide which elements of the wedding are most important to them and  which elements are the least important. And then plan your spending from there.

Devote the bulk of your budget to the things the couple cares the most about and plan for minimal amounts to be spent on the others, possibly even forgoing some things altogether. If your daughter and her beloved want an amazing venue, a live band, and top notch photography, maybe they would be willing to have an hors d’oeuvres buffet rather than a sit-down dinner and scale back on flowers and favors. They might even decide they don’t need ceremony programs at all. You get the idea.

MOB, take the pressure off a bit—prioritize and trim. The results will be unique to your own situation and will help put the brakes on that runaway train, giving wings to joy instead. Why not give it a try?

*You might also like to read Budget Agreement with the Father of the BrideA Simple Wedding Expense Tip, Wedding Savings Tip: Borrow, Bridal Primping on a Budget, and Christmas Gifts for the Bride.

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

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out this week. 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.) 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.

*Flickr photo by cafecredit, Creative Commons License

Mother of the Bride: 9 Easy Ways to Pamper Yourself

Mother of the Bride, you deserve to pamper yourself every now and then on this marathon journey otherwise known as wedding planning.

Not only you deserve to do it, you need to do it. Just think—in addition to all the responsibilities of life you manage on a day to day basis, you’re now juggling wedding responsibilities as well. If you don’t take care of yourself during the journey, you may crumble before the big day gets here.

So to help keep you refreshed, recharged, and ready to help your daughter in every way possible, I give you 9 Easy Ways to Pamper Yourself. May they work their magic on you, dear MOB!

9 Easy Ways to Pamper Yourself

  1. Treat yourself to a couple of hours of relaxation in your favorite bookstore. Enjoy browsing the aisles or take a seat and do some reading while sipping on a delicious drink. Soak up the peace and solitude and then head out the door with a refreshed spirit—and maybe a new book or magazine!
  2. Spend a few minutes outside listening to the birds sing. Block out thoughts of to-do lists and various worries and focus completely on the calls and melodies of the feathered friends around you. Refresh with one of the most soothing and uplifting activities to be found. And it’s free!
  3. Treat yourself to an outing with a friend. Go to the movies or try the new ice cream place or restaurant you’ve been wanting to try. Enjoy your friend. Laugh. Forget the demands of life for a few hours and focus on having fun.
  4. Relax with the new craze of coloring. If you enjoyed coloring as a kid, I bet you’ll love it now too. And if you didn’t really care for it in your younger years, you could still give it a try. Let creativity fill your senses and watch stress get crowded out.
  5. Take time for a stroll down memory lane. Spend an afternoon or evening looking through family photos or reading back through baby books and journals. Bask in the warm feelings nostalgia brings. Let joy and contentment bring you fresh energy and perspective.
  6. Indulge in floral therapy by keeping fresh flowers in your home. If you’re not the green thumb type (I’m not) and don’t have flowers blooming plentifully in your yard, treat yourself to inexpensive flowers from a greenhouse, grocery, or discount store that sells fresh flowers. Farmer’s markets might be another option. Let the amazing and delicate wonder of flowers refresh your spirit.
  7. Take a drive or bike ride in the country and get away from it all. Enjoy the scenery and scents of country life. Stop along the way to walk and take photos. Capture the beauty of the open countryside—wildflowers, birds, the sky, farms, cattle, pastures, crops, ponds, and streams. Whatever catches your eye. Thank God for his marvels in creation and for refreshing your spirit.
  8. 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.
  9. Treat yourself to a copy of my book Mother of the Bride. Yes, this is a shameless plug, but darn it all, I think you’ll love it. I believe it will truly pamper, encourage, and refresh you—with everything from the beauty of the cover and interior design to the wisdom, help, and understanding voice shared throughout. Through my book, I want to be your friend for the journey. Let me pamper you!

Of course, MOB, other possibilities abound for personal pampering, but these are some ideas you may not have thought of yet. I hope you’ll try most—if not all—of them and let them provide you with the occasional respite you desperately desire. Remember, you need and deserve it!

 *You might also like to read Relax and Refresh with This Wedding Story, An MOB Prescription: Movie Fun!, and Mother of the Bride Relaxation Time—with Coloring!

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

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. 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  “Strolic Furlan” – Davide Gabino, Creative Commons License