2022 Theme Words: Guard and Gift

Yes, you read that title right—I’ve selected two theme words for 2022! Two theme words is a first for me. It’s always good to branch out and try new things so I guess I’m starting the year off right, huh?

Do you start the New Year by selecting a theme word for the year? Some people refer to it as an anchor word and others even choose an anchor verse from the Bible. I jumped on the theme word bandwagon back in 2012 (over ten years ago now!), and I’m so glad I did.

I love how a theme word keeps me focused on a particular quality or action throughout the year. I won’t think of my chosen theme word every day, but I will think of it periodically. It will help keep me on track or give me guidance.

The words I’ve chosen for 2022 are guard and gift. I usually start thinking and praying about what my word for the upcoming year should be sometime in November or December.

This year, before even praying about it, I immediately thought of the word gift because I’d recently read my friend Edie Frink Winters’  book Giftitude. I loved the perspective she shared of seeing problems and challenges large and small as gifts—something we can learn from by asking “Where is the gift in this for me?” I knew I wanted to start applying this to my life, and selecting gift as my new theme word for the year seemed like the perfect way to do that.

When I began to pray and seek God’s guidance about my theme word, though, right away he pointed me to the word guard several times. I didn’t really want to settle on that because I’d already used it as my theme word several years ago, but when God kept bringing it to my attention, I knew I needed to listen and obey. After all, I’d been thinking about how I need to guard my tongue right now because of a personal ongoing situation that can cause a lot of frustration and upset feelings. It’s all too easy to say the wrong thing. So once again, guard will indeed be my theme word for the year.

I still had the strong desire to focus on gift though too, and as I prayed about it, God was so good to confirm to me that it is indeed okay to have two theme words with gift being one of them as well. So here I am with two theme words this year! Hopefully, I will see growth in both areas, and I probably won’t know the full impact of these particular theme words until the year is out. The Lord knows about it all right now, though, and I’m thankful he’s preparing me for whatever may come as the year unfolds.

If you haven’t done so yet, why not choose a theme word for 2022? I can guarantee it will help give you direction and help you grow throughout the year. Who would want to miss out on a deal like that? May God guide you and bless you in your choice!

“Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 NIV

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NIV

*Do you have a theme word or anchor verse for 2022? I’d love to hear about it!

*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.) 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.

*Photo by Isabela Kronemberger on Unsplash

Thanksgiving in Simpler Times

As I watched my kids’ eyes glaze over from too many video games one Thanksgiving years ago, I recalled my childhood Thanksgivings and realized how lucky I was. We celebrated the holiday at my grandparents’ farm in the days before video games, satellite dishes, streaming devices, computers, and iPhones. As a result, I now have priceless memories of Thanksgiving in simpler times.

Our celebration bordered on a full-blown family reunion for my dad’s side of the family. Grandma especially treasured Thanksgiving because it was her holiday. She always had the dinner at her house, and everyone knew it. It was tradition.

The excitement of Thanksgiving Day started on the drive over to Grandpa and Grandma’s. When we turned off the highway onto the country road, I knew we were almost there. The familiar words “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go” had special meaning to me because they echoed my own experience.

Each year as we reached the farmhouse lane, I wondered which cousins would be there to play with that day. We would have adventures for sure because there were always adventures to be had on the farm. With a little imagination, the lane became a dangerous road filled with wild creatures, rushing rivers, or deep gullies to cross. And cousins made it all the more exiting.

Sometimes we arrived early so my dad could go hunting with the men. He kept his bird dog Cindy on the farm, and she always went wild with excitement when she saw us. The men must have had great times on those hunts together because each time they came back talking, laughing, and poking each other with their elbows like they knew something the rest of us didn’t.

Meanwhile, we all feasted on the heavenly aromas that drifted out of Grandma’s kitchen. The smell of roast turkey, noodles cooking on the stove, and homemade rolls baking in the oven tantalized our taste buds.

When dinner was finally ready, Grandma called us to the kitchen where we gathered for the Thanksgiving blessing. Grandpa called on one of the men to pray, and what a prayer it would be. Our family had a deep Christian heritage and much to be thankful for, especially our Savior Jesus. On other days when Grandpa didn’t pass the privilege on to someone else, I loved to hear him pray. His heart was so full he almost always shed a tear or two when he gave thanks to his Lord.

Not only did our family know how to pray, we knew how to eat! Confident that all of our favorite foods would be there, we filled our plates from the vast array of delectable dishes covering the kitchen counter and stove.

Everything was made from scratch. Packaged noodles, rolls, and ready-made pie crusts were unheard of in our family. Just about every kind of pie known to man tempted us that day—and they were divine. Pumpkin pie was a certainty along with the mincemeat pie Grandma made especially for my dad, but we also got to choose from apple, cherry, lemon meringue, chocolate, coconut cream, and sometimes blackberry or peach. What a difficult decision! The adults usually tried slivers of several different kinds, but I had to have a whole piece. I didn’t like skinny pieces, and neither did the other kids.

The adults ate dinner in the dining room while we kids sat in the kitchen, but that was fine with us. We didn’t want to stick around for the boring conversation after dinner anyway. And we definitely wanted to be busy by clean-up time. We really didn’t have to worry about that, though, because the women seemed to fight for the chance to wash and dry the dishes. I didn’t understand that until I got older.

Since my grandparents didn’t have a television at that time, football didn’t dominate the afternoon. The grown-ups did lots of talking, and the kids did lots of playing and acting silly in general.

If the weather was bad, we played in the basement, which was home to a scary looking coal-eating furnace, Grandma’s washer, a bed, and shelves filled with jars of food from Grandma’s summer canning. We also had room for roughhousing and riding the little John Deere tractor Grandpa kept for us. The basement reverberated with our noise, and before long one of our parents would materialize out of nowhere and try to quiet us. Since that only seemed to work for a few minutes, everyone always hoped for good weather.

When the weather was good, we knew we could count on Grandpa to go outdoors with us. Tramping around the farm with him and listening to all his tall tales was pure heaven. Sometimes we played hide and seek in the barn or got real daring and walked the rafters. I was scared to death to do the things my country cousins dared me to do. I grew up in town and felt as if I was risking my life most of the time.

Grandpa also let us feed the chickens, help milk the cows, and chase the wild kittens that lived in abundance around the barn. He loved us and always made our visits fun.

Thanksgiving was a great day in the life of our family. I’ll be forever grateful, not only for my loved ones, but also for treasured memories of Thanksgiving in simpler times. And now? As I share these memories with my kids and grandkids, their simple country heritage will live on. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord!

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1 NIV

*What aspects of your Thanksgiving celebrations are you especially thankful for?

*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.) 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.

Photo by Ali Gooya on Unsplash

Father-Daughter Dance Songs for Weddings

Mother of the Bride, can you guess what one of your most emotional moments will be on your daughter’s big day? If you guessed the Father-Daughter dance, you guessed right.

When your little-girl-turned-bride and her daddy take to the dance floor on wedding day, you might just come undone. Years of memories will flood your heart, and you’ll feel like you’re out there on the dance floor with them giving her away one final time. You may even feel like it’s your last hurrah as the most important family members in her life, but instead, try to see it as a wonderful tribute to all the love you’ve shared over the years.

To help your family prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime moment, here’s a list of great song possibilities for this special tribute dance. Run them past your husband and daughter and see which ones they’re drawn to. They may want to find the songs online and listen to them together. Another great memory in the making. Enjoy!

“In My Life” – the Beatles
“You Send Me” – Sam Cooke
“The Way You Look Tonight” – Frank Sinatra or Steve Tyrell
“Come Fly With Me” – Frank Sinatra
“My Girl” – The Temptations
“Isn’t She Lovely” – Stevie Wonder
“Unforgettable” – Natalie Cole with Nat King Cole
“Cinderella” – Steven Curtis Chapman
“My Wish” – Rascal Flatts
“What a Wonderful Life” – Louis Armstrong
“Butterfly Kisses” – Bob Carlisle
“How Sweet It Is” – James Taylor
“My Little Girl” – Tim McGraw
“Times of Your Life” – Paul Anka
“You Are the Sunshine of My Life” – Stevie Wonder
“I Loved Her First” – Heartland
“It Had to Be You” – Ray Charles
“Daughters” – John Mayer
“You Are So Beautiful” – Joe Cocker
“Daddy Dance With Me” – Krystal Keith

For now, MOB, get your hankie ready. I have a feeling you may need it. And that’s okay. The tears will just be love flowing from your eyes.

*You might also like to read Wedding Day First Dance Photo—Show Off Her Rings!, Budget Agreement with the Father of the Bride, and Guest List Help: Don’t Forget the Father of the Bride.

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

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

*Flickr photo by Barry.Lenard, Creative Commons License

Theme Word 2021: Serve

Yes, Virginia, I still select an annual theme word. I know I’m a little late posting it this year, but instead of kicking off the year earlier in January with my theme word post, I decided to share a blessing post. I thought that was more appropriate given the fact we as a nation—and a world—have never been so glad to see a new year arrive. If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you’ll take a minute to give it a quick read. I think it will indeed bless you!

But yes, for me, starting a new year means it’s time to focus on a new theme word. This is the 10th year I’ve chosen a special word for the year. I’ve never been big into New Year’s resolutions but instead I decide on a theme word to help guide me through the year. It’s a practice I highly recommend. I can honestly say it has benefited me time and again.

Serve was the word the Lord kept bringing to my attention near the end of last year so serve it is for 2021. I never know what all the Lord has in mind when guiding me to a new word, but I do think he wants me to continue to serve and bless others through the written word. Also I’m filling a new role this year as I serve as the chaplain for my writers group. I wonder what else God has in store? I guess I’ll find out as the year unfolds!

If you haven’t done so yet, why not choose a theme word for 2021? I can guarantee that having an over-arching word—a quality, an attitude, or an action—to focus on will help give you direction and help you grow throughout the year. And that is always a good thing, isn’t it?

But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” 1 Samuel 12:24 NIV

*Do you have a theme word or anchor verse for 2021? Please share!

*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.) p.s. If you sign up after Jan. 29th, you will be included in all future Life Notes giveaways but not in this current giveaway.

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

*Photo by Austin Kehmeier on Unsplash

Gift Idea for Newlyweds and Other Couples Plus Wedding Planning Help During My Blogging Break

Mother of the Bride, with Christmas coming, are you looking for a meaningful gift to give to your daughter and her beloved? Even if they won’t be married by Christmas, you can still give them a couples gift that will help them on their coming newlywed journey.

Our Daily Question: A Three-Year Journal for Couples is a 365-day guided journal that poses a question a day designed to stimulate conversation. I haven’t seen the book myself (it’s brand new on the market), but for the past few years I’ve personally been using The Daily Question: My 5-Year Spiritual Journal. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed answering each day’s question and then looking back to see my answers from the previous years.

 Our Daily Question works the same way as The Daily Question journal I use. What fun it will be for newlyweds to see how their answers may change over the course of three years. They may enjoy the exercise so much that they’ll want to get another one! And just think—this is a gift you can keep in mind for other couples as well. Remember, Christmas is coming!

With that in mind, it’s time for me to take a holiday blogging break—but not before I leave you with some great wedding planning help. I’ll be back with my weekly posts starting Jan. 5th, but in the meantime, I hope you’ll find lots of helpful ideas and info as you take advantage of today’s post.

Here are four resources from yours truly:

  1. Look through the list of Favorite Posts on the sidebar and click the links to the ones that spark your interest. (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find the sidebar items.)
  2. Use the drop-down feature in the Archives to spot some posts that might be especially helpful to you at this stage in your Mother of the Bride journey. You’ll find the Archives on the sidebar too so use the directions above to find it if you’re on a mobile device.
  3. Check out my Pinterest pageAmong other things, it features eighteen wedding-related boards!
  4. Glance through the roundup posts I’ve written so far. Roundups can be very helpful:

Wedding Photography: Bridal Portrait Roundup

Roundup: Popular Mother of the Bride Blog Posts

Bridal Bouquet Roundup

Wedding Cake Roundup

Wedding Registry Roundup

Wedding Photo Ideas Roundup That Star the Groom

Finally, if your daughter is in the beginning stages of gathering ideas and investigating her options, try Martha Stewart WeddingsReal Simple Weddings, and Brides.  And if she  your daughter wants a rustic wedding, check out Rustic Wedding Chic.

Hope this helps you and your sweet daughter, MOB!

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

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come 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.)

*Flickr photo by wuestenigal, Creative Commons License