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Cookie Swap

Acts 2:41-47 – “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”

I’m baking Christmas cookies this afternoon. I’m very excited about it, actually. I enjoy cooking and it has been a long time since I took the time to bake Christmas cookies. 

The reason for the baking is that the ladies at my church are having a cookie swap for our Christmas party this year. We are going to turn the air conditioner way up to make it really cold in the building, wear our Christmas sweaters and exchange cookies while drinking cocoa, coffee and milk. I think it sounds fun, different and completely yummy!

So what do these verse have to do with cookies…

We are having a cookie swap. That means that everyone is supposed to bring 1-2 batches of their favorite cookies to exchange with the other attendees. The cookies will all be common. We will all share. 

Can you imagine for a moment what it was like in Jerusalem after the Day of Pentecost where people were getting saved left and right and crowds of people were stacking up on one another just to hear God’s word spoken by one of His apostles? Crazy. Never in my life have I experienced such. Oh, I’ve been involved in some very good and moving revival services, but never have I seen people stopping what they are doing to crowd into a small space and hear the Word of God. That would have been amazing!

Many of these people in Jerusalem, at the time, had been there for a festival. They had stayed a bit longer than they anticipated because of the effects of the Day of Pentecost. They were running short on supplies but God was supplying all their needs. He stirred the hearts of the people to share anything and everything they had. They needed to be fed spiritually just as much as they needed to be fed physically. 

Now, this cookie swap is in no way, shape or form going to be anything like what the people at Jerusalem experienced. No, we are there for fellowship and fun. They were there for life changing information. But I guess that we could have the same type of thing happen. Someone could realize the blessing behind fellowshipping with our ladies and it could, possibly, change her life. 

Fellowshipping together is necessary. We all need that time with the girls to refresh and rejuvenate. (And boys, yes, you need that time too – with other boys, of course! 🙂 

God has put something very special into the heart of a woman. We need that time of bonding and giggling and sharing (goods and stories). We need to know that other women are going through and have gone through the same thing we are. We need the support of a girlfriend to hold our hand and lend a shoulder to cry on. We need to study the Word of God together. I’m sorry to offend, but girls see Scripture in a different light, at least I know I see things differently than my husband at times. It’s just the way God wired us. 

So as you read this Scripture and think about what it means, apply it to today. I don’t think that God necessarily wants us to go and sell everything we have and tent up together and be completely away from the rest of the world. I think that He wants us to share what we have, what we are dealing with and what we have experienced with others. He wants us to have fellowship with our sisters (and brothers) in Christ. He wants us to make the sacrifice to be with the people He has put into our lives. Happy Friday.

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Friends

Proverbs 18:24 – “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

Yesterday, our youth group completed our annual pizza date and collection of items for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. We had several teenagers join us on this excursion. And man, did they ever have fun!

I loved looking down the table at lunch and seeing all those glasses of soda hovering around plates of pizza. I enjoyed listening to them laugh and poke each other. I was grateful for their kindness and respect to those around them.

And then when we got to the store to collect our items, I was touched by their heart in gathering so many different items for their individual shoebox. They were concerned about this child’s hygiene, eating utensils, toys/entertainment items and other things that they could use around their home. 

And after the needs of the shoebox were met, that is when the laughing started. I could hear my son and several other boys just giggling and having a grand ole time. I went to search them out and what did I find? They had found the masks and was trying several on. It didn’t matter that the masks were too small. It didn’t matter that they were being stared at. All that mattered is that they were having a great time.

Then they went to the church house. After practicing for a puppet show and working on some music, they began playing spoons. It’s a card game that can get very intense, but they love it. It is a tradition for them. They laughed. They yelled. They were reaching over one another and knocking down chairs. They were having a great time. It was spectacular!

I tell you all of this to remind you of this – friends are important. Godly friends are even more important. It is needful for you to have fun with your friends. It is needful for you to serve with your friends. God has given us the opportunity for friendship and He wants us to enjoy it. Schedules are busy and life gets hectic, I know. I am right there with you. I wish I had more time for friends. I miss girls night out. It seems like I am so caught up with all the activities my kids are involved in that I forget to make time for my friends. 

So this week, let’s do something about it. Even if it is just sending a text or an email, reach out to a friend. Let them know that you are thinking of them. Let them know you are praying for them. 

14

1 Peter 3:2-4 – ” While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

It’s a big weekend – my daughter turns fourteen on Saturday. We are going out to a nice dinner tonight and tomorrow, she & I are going for a manicure and pedicure. 

But as she is growing and learning to be a woman, there is one thing that I want her to grasp and understand – beauty is not only skin deep. 

Beauty is something that comes from the inside. Beauty is a light that shines inside of you. It lights up a room. It can calm a situation. It brings warmth to a conversation. It is something that can’t be replicated in a doctor’s office. It isn’t something that can be taught. It has to be grown inside with diligence and patience. 

As my daughter faces even more challenges as a teenager via her peers and social media, I want her to appreciate what God is doing in her life. He is growing something special in her that He can use down the road to bring Him honor and glory. 

Yes, her hair is long and beautiful. Yes, her button nose is too cute. Yes, her freckles bring joy to my heart. And yes, her laughter is contagious. But it is her heart for others, her joyful spirit, her tenacity, her spunkiness and her love love of life that I don’t want to fade or grow dim or ever be cut off. 

Life takes it toll. Time marches on. But I pray that her beauty that truly lies within will never change. For that is what makes her my beautiful daughter. 

Strong children

Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

It has been a long school year. But at the same time, it has flown. It has been a process of encouraging my children to succeed and guiding them through trying times. 

Yet through all of it, it has been the goal of our family to grow strong children. And I think we are. They face so many situations at school and in their “recreational” time that sometimes life seems overwhelming. 

My son is the strong, silent type. You know what a first child typically looks like? Flip it around, shake it up and cover it with a cloak and you have my son. My husband and I laugh that he is an enigma. But he is courageous. He always has been. His speech was delayed as a child and that made him shy. So overcoming is almost second nature to him. 

Now my daughter, on the other hand, well…there are very few words to accurately describe her. She is definitely strong. She is courageous – she rarely lets things keep her from speaking her mind. (Not sure where she gets that from!)   But she is joyful. She is fun. She is determined. She is mighty and fierce. 

They both are such strong and amazing children. I hear of other people worrying about their children and their future. Not me, I know God has placed these two on this planet for amazing things. I’m excited to see what it is!

But we need to encourage all of our children, whether we have them given birth to them or not, to thrive. Be successful. Be brave. Be courageous. They have a Mighty God who will NEVER leave them and He has something in store for them that we can’t imagine. 

Monday night, I heard a speaker challenge a group of students in this way – What was the promise that God made to the world when He brought you into it? Live every day with that in mind and see what God will do. 

This morning…

Genesis 25:31-34 – “And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.”

This morning, the kids were eating breakfast and my son asked for a catalog that was near my daughter. Now, a bit of back story – A discussion arose concerning the temperature outside and the fact that my husband’s car only has seat warmers for the front seat. He was planning on taking the kids to school and my daughter was lamenting over cold seats in the back seat. She begged my son to allow her to sit upfront. He, of course, declined the request stating that was his place to sit. 

Back to the story – my daughter agreed to give him the catalog if he would allow her the front seat. He proceeded to reach across her for the catalog. To which she responded, “Come on Esau! Sell your birthright, you hairy brother!”

Now, this particular antidote has no real deep spiritual meaning. However, my children were having fun early in the morning with Godly stories in their mind. The scene itself made me smile, but what warmed my heart was the Biblical reference. God was on their mind. 

So, enjoy your day and always keep God in the forefront of your mind and your day! Happy Friday!

Ponder

Luke 2:15-19 – “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”

We have already begun to listen to Christmas music at my house. Actually, it all began back in August, but my son started bringing it into the driving-to-school tunes last week. Of course, we had to kick things off with “Mary, did you know?” by Pentonix. I love to listen to that group sing!

In that song, they sing of some of the wonders and miracles Jesus performed. They also bring to mind the fact that when Mary kissed Jesus’ face that she kissed the face of God. Just think about that for a minute. When she held His hand, she held God’s hand. When she laughed with Him, she laughed with God. All those tender moments that a mom has with her little one, she had those with God. How cool is that!?

And yet, as He grew and she saw the things He did and knew the things He could do…did she know the reason He came? Did she truly understand what was required of Him as God’s only begotten Son? 

Maybe she did and maybe she didn’t. But my point in all of this is that sometimes we take for granted that Jesus was a real person who had a real mom and who had feelings and emotions just like we do. We forget that He laughed and sang songs and petted a dog. When we forget about those things, it makes it easier to shoulder the burden He bore for us. It makes it less cruel to consider His death for our sins. 

We need to ponder these things in our heart. Just as Mary heard the account of the angels proclaiming Jesus’ birth to the shepherds and she thought on these things, so should we when we remember His humanity, when we remember His sacrifice. It’s not just a story in a book. It is History. It is truth. 

So take some time to dust off the Christmas albums today and listen to the song. Remember His sacrifice. Think about His life – the one outside recorded history. Think about Him as a toddler, as a little boy, as a teenager. And thank Him for His sacrifice for our freedom in Him.  

Burnt carrots 

Psalm 102:1,2 – “A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD. Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee. Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily.”

The day started out well. I was on time. And then a patient called out for help. And then I got caught my another need. And then I was late to get my son. And then my gas tank was on empty. And then practice ran long. And then I remembered my carrots were in the oven. And then I remembered they would be in there for an hour and a half – would I come home to a house in smoldering ruin? 

Well, we survived the burnt carrots and no one went hungry. As I prayed before dinner, my daughter snickered at me because this is how my prayer sounded – “Thank you Lord that the carrots didn’t burn the house down. Thank you for keeping us safe in our crazy afternoon. Thank you for providing this yummy food because our carrots burned. And thank you for helping us find joy in the little things. Amen.” Yes, you can snicker too. It was funny. She said it sounded like a scene from a VeggieTale movie. 

Sometimes the well planned day has a way of getting away from you. You plan everything to the last detail and revel in the fact that it will all come together smoothly. Then you find yourself helping out and low on gas. That’s life in a nut shell. 

The only thing to do is cry out into the Lord. And you know what? He really does care! He cares that the carrots burning in the oven stresses you out. He sees when you just can’t resist that sweet little lady that looks at you and says, “Honey, I really need to go to the bathroom.” He understands when the pumps at the gas station are all filled with cars and you are late. (Yep, this all happened yesterday!)   He knows when you are at the end of your rope. 

And He answers speedily. The house is safe. The food was good. The gas finally got in the car and I wasn’t stranded. Everyone got to where they needed to be. Homework was completed. And laundry was done. 

It was a great lesson, although I let the learning side of it stress me out. It was a reminder to cry out to Him. It was a reminder to let Him have it all – the good, the bad and the ugly. It was a reminder that He is quick to listen and sure to act. 

Thank you Lord for the lesson in burnt carrots.