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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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Love, true love

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a – “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth…”

My husband and I have been married for 22 years, 4 months and 13 days. It’s always the years that gets me. I have been married over half of my life. 

Our 22 years have been far from perfect but they have probably been as close as one can get this side of eternity. God has been good to us, not because of anything we have done or deserve. No, God has been good to us because He loves us and we each loved Him before we loved each other. 

Society has a warped view of love these days. They have no clue what it is or what it means. They see the things that Hollywood tells us should be love and attempt to base their thoughts and feeling on that. And that just does not work. The ideas and actions we see on our television and movie screen are far from the long lasting love spoken of here in 1 Corinthians 13. 

I mean look at it – “suffereth long” – long suffering is not a quality I would say that most people have. “Envieth not” – really, you don’t want me to be jealous of my special someone? The world teaches that jealousy is something that is a positive quality; it drives a person. “Vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up” – pride. Need I say more? “Doth not behave itself unseemly” – inappropriate behavior toward another person is everywhere. “Seeketh not her own” – self-centered behavior, the hallmark of our modern world. “Not easily provoked” – wearing your heart on your shirt sleeve – political correctness? “Thinketh no evil” – “get them before they get you” kind of an attitude. 

See, it is really tough to see true love in our world. That is why we are encouraged to find all the answers in Christ. When we look to the world, we have to remember that the devil has his grubby little hands in everything in the world. If he can get us to warp our view of love and see it as the world sees it, he can bring us down to the depths of his misery. And we all know that misery loves company. 

Jesus is our perfect example of love. His life, His ministry, His death and resurrection all show us how, when and why we should love. And the love that is spoken of here isn’t just for the people choosing marriage. No, this love should be blanketed over everyone in every situation and saught after in every circumstance. 

So let me encourage you today, to love. Read these verses and let them sink in and let them change the way you do things today. Put on love and let it guide you today.  

Live like you are loved

Jeremiah 31:3 – “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

Think back with me for a moment to the time when the love you have with your spouse or significant other was new. Remember how wonderful it felt? Do you remember thinking that if you two stayed together that it felt like there was nothing that you couldn’t overcome? Do you remember your every thought was consumed by him/her? When you weren’t together, you wondered where they were and what they were doing. You could spend hours on the phone with them just talking about the day. Do you remember how the tiniest gesture of love sent you into a tailspin and you felt like one of those cartoon characters with hearts in your eyes? Yep, those were the good old days.

Now then, when was the last time you felt that way about the True Love of your life, Jesus Christ? Because, you know, that without Him, you would have no idea what that feeling was in your heart toward your spouse or significant other. You wouldn’t know how to love him/her. Jesus is the One that showed you what real love is. He is the One that keeps showing you how to love.

But that’s not what I want to focus on today. I want us to look at living like we are loved. I heard that phrase in a song yesterday and it has stuck with me and made me think – do I live like I’m loved or do I live like I’m not? 

When I first entered into my relationship with my husband, everything was bright and new and wonderful and fascinating. We could talk for hours on the phone when we were apart. We asked questions of one another and really got to know one another. Now, we have been married for 22 years. There’s not too much that I don’t know about him. Every now and again, I might learn something new, but for the most part, we are an open book to one another. Yet still, everything is still bright and new and wonderful and fascinating – but in a whole new way. We are learning to live each part of our life in love that is sustained because of our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Some people have a tendency to live life defeated or downcast. They fail to see the newness of each and every day and they choose to turn their eyes from the promises of God. I’m not sure why or how they do this. But they live their life like they have no real love. And these are people who proclaim to be followers of God. Actually, I question the truth in that statement. 

So what does it mean to live like you are loved? 1) I think that it means you have a desire to grow your relationship with Jesus. You have the desire to get into His word and learn more and more about Him – even through the challenging and seemingly redundant parts – there is still something there for you to learn about Him. 2) I think that it means that you have the desire to spend more time with His people. You want to attend services. You want to have friends that believe like you do. 3) I think that it means that you want to talk to Him. You want that ongoing dialogue. It brings you peace and comfort. 4) I think that it means that you want to do as much for Him as you can. You want to show Him that you love Him too by serving Him and His people. 

Living like you are loved brings peace and real joy to your life. It lets you know that you are exactly where you need to be despite what may be going on around you. Life isn’t always going to cooperate. Dark days are going to come and the devil will throw darts at your heart. But living like you are loved makes those challenging days more bearable because you know that you don’t face them alone.

Gray head

Proverbs 20:29 – “The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.”

Yesterday, I had a patient that was a young teenager in Munich during World War II. I had a million questions to ask her, but since it was our initial meeting, I kept them to a minimum. 

As I was laying in bed last night thinking and praying about my day, many of the people I have treated in the past came back to my memory. I saw their faces. I remembered their story. I remembered our story. It made me smile. 

I have been so blessed to have had so many truly amazing and history filled people in my life. I treated a man who survived the beaches of Normandy. I have treated people who have overcome significant medical incidents. I have treated many completely ordinary people with extraordinary personalities – beautiful souls with hearts to share. I have treated people who have challenged me physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have cried in the bathroom because they passed away. I have listened to them cry and have laughed profusely with them. I have been there when they did something they never thought they could do. 

So as I was thinking about all of this, this verse came to my mind. The thing that I have right here and right now is my strength. Oh, I’m not ready to compete in any competitions but I can hold my own, so to speak. But I try to be strong emotionally and spiritually too. Sometimes people need that just as much as they need my physical strength. I do this because one day, I will be the gray head. I will be the one telling stories and crying with some poor soul that has to try and teach me how to get in and out of bed. Truly, I hope the Lord comes back before then. But if He delays, I know He will send me someone like me to laugh and cry with. 

My point is this, our aging population is vitally important. They have so much to offer. We can’t neglect or forget about them. They need love and compassion and respect. God has them here to teach us and nurture us and love us in a way that we don’t yet comprehend. So reach out to that person that is struggling to get their groceries in the car. Reach out to that neighbor who can’t easily bring in their garbage cans. Take some time to listen to their stories and hear the desires of their heart. God has them here for you. Love them. Happy Friday. 

Sweet, sweet memories

Psalm 77:11-12 – “I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.”

As I sit here this morning, I’m remembering the excitement and nervousness and joy that this day brought me 22 years ago. It was the night of my wedding rehearsal. We had so much fun. We laughed. And we laughed. And then, we laughed some more. 

And then the next day, the big day, was full of love and celebrating and nervous jitters and yes, more laughter. I can see it all in my head. I can hear my Southern accent. I can see the big hair. I remember the look in my Daddy’s eyes as he walked up the stairs to bring me to my future husband. I remember the one candle that did not light at the altar. I remember people yelling at me to watch out for fire ants while I tied balloons along the sidewalk leading up to that old farmhouse where we had our reception. I remember the magnolia trees bloomed that morning. 

But more than all the memories of those two days 22 years ago, I remember how we got there – God. I remember that it was Him that brought my husband and I together. I remember that it was Him that grew the love that continues to grow in us. I remember praying to find my husband while I was still in high school. 

I have so many precious memories. But none of them would be possible without Jesus in my life. I KNOW that it was Him that brought my husband to me. I KNOW it was Him that showed me what it means to have a good marriage by giving me the parents He gave me. I KNOW it is Him that keeps us together to this day. 

So when I look back and remember, I don’t want to neglect His fingerprints all over my life. And I want to make sure that I give Hin the honor and glory He deserves for His work in my life. Thank you God, for all that You have done in my life. And thank you for all that You will do in my life because I KNOW You’re not done with me yet. 

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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. 

Church family

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 – “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.”

When my family and I started going to our church, we were a bit puzzled. Everyone was identified as aunt or uncle so-and-so. How could all these people possibly be related? True, it has been around for 120+ years and dating someone in our church requires a careful analysis of both people’s family tree, but still..all of them related?

We quickly learned that these were terms of endearment. 

My church is far from perfect. We have problems. We have challenges. But above it all, we have love. 

And there is no better place to see love than at a funeral. Now, I know, that seems weird. But hear me out. 

One of our ladies passed away this week. She had fought long and hard against an illness that rarely gives up – cancer. It was sad. And it was a blessing. She had been ill for so long and endured so much. She was ready to see Jesus. 

And as we sat and listened to the pastor give his words of encouragement, the common theme was “amen”. He talked about her faith; her dedication when she was ill; her love for her family and her Jesus. Amen. She isn’t hurting. Amen. She wants her family to share in her joy. Amen. Her family was not only flesh and blood but also the blood of Jesus Christ. 

I have a plaque in my home that was given to us by one of our church family. It says “Friends are the family you choose.” 

And no truer words can be spoken when I think about my church family. 

I love my family dearly, blood of my relatives and blood of my Jesus. They are all precious to me. And yesterday, as we laid to rest one of our own, my heart was sad for the ones left behind but happy for her. It was bittersweet. 

So I would encourage you to go home to your church family this weekend. They would love to see you. They would love to hug you. They would love to tell you how much they have missed you, because they have. Don’t let the devil steal away the family that God has given you. Treasure it and thrive within it.