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Encouragement

Building Unity During A Season Of Separation

Now, more than ever, is a time for the body of Christ to unite. Though our physical bodies are currently limited in our daily interactions and in-person socializations, our spirits should be united as one..one body…the body of Christ.

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Pandemic, quarantine, death tolls, public health models, social distancing…we’ve all seen and heard these words swirling around on every social media and public platform over the last few weeks. Words that months ago would scarcely cross our minds. Now, these words are real…they’re tangible…and we are living them.

Each of us has our own ideas and thoughts about the current events, and we each deal with them in our own way. We are a nation of diverse people from different backgrounds, experiences, and walks of life. We see things differently, express ourselves uniquely, and manifest emotions and actions from various components pertaining to our individualism. As distinct and disparate as we think we are…we are all really just the same. We are each made in the image and likeness of God. A single thread which knits our world and lives together.

We all have our own ways of dealing with things, especially during times of great conflict or difficulties. Over the last few days, I have watched in utter disbelief as people fought over a roll of toilet paper and scrambled to empty out their grocer’s shelves. I have heard raw cries of fear, witnessed citizens angered over the interruption of their daily lives, and some of the funniest memes I think I’ve ever seen, but there is one thing that has loomed in my mind above all others. I have watched Christians tearing other Christians down with harsh words, sharp judgement, and superfluous ridicule. Why? Because people have not responded to our current situation the way that they have, or the way that they think others should.

” I’m ashamed of some of you so-called Christians”, “You’re just giving in to fear”, “If you’re not in that pew on Sunday, you need to re-evaluate your faith”, “If you truly believed and had faith in God, you would know that you are protected and can’t get sick”, “The only people who get sick are those who have sin in their lives”, “You’re a liar if you say you trust in God and you’re not going to church this morning”, “What kind of an example are you setting for unbelievers by not going to church during this fear mongering false pandemic?” WOW…just WOW. Reading over these posts and comments, my heart just broke. What kind of an example are these statements setting for unbelievers AND believers alike? Comments such as these drive a wedge…a wedge of division. During this time of recommended separation to slow the spread of this virus, let us unite as “the church”! WE are the CHURCH! WE are HIS CHURCH!

It’s during times like this that we must ban together. There is such power in unity! We the church can unite in prayer and fasting regardless of whether we are sitting in a building together or not. We have taken the freedoms that we have been blessed with for granted for too long. We can worship our God freely, in spirit and in truth…in a house of worship, in our homes, our cars, or anywhere of our choosing! There are millions of people who do not share in that freedom today. We are a blessed people! Instead of asking ourselves why this is happening to us, let’s shift the focus to what can God teach us through this season.

Let’s use this season of separation as a time to slow down. Let’s get back to the basics of life and true family. Let’s devote more time to praying and to reading the Word. Let’s utilize and maximize our time to bring glory to God! During this season of chaos, may God speak peace unto the storm and remind us of His love and promises to us.

My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s build and not tear down. Let’s encourage and not destroy. Let’s strive for a true meaningful RELATIONSHIP with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and stop focusing on the formalities and constraints of RELIGION. Strive to love like Jesus and apply His teaching to our everyday lives.

Your opinion may differ greatly from mine, and that’s okay. I still love you! God still loves you, and God still loves me. God knows each of our hearts. We all have different situations and circumstances in our lives that aren’t always evident to those around us. Let us not be so quick to pass judgement on others when we do not know their story.

Father God, I come to you right now and ask that you be with each and every one of us. Help our faith to be bigger than any fear that could present itself. Help us to lean on Your Word and to seek our wisdom and guidance from You. Help us to use good discernment and sound judgement when we are faced with decisions and may Your voice be louder than the chaos surrounding us. Father God, I pray for the safety of every individual and home and for you to pour out a healing and revival upon your people. I pray for all of our healthcare workers, government leaders, military and police officers who are placing themselves on the front lines of service so unselfishly. May we find our refuge and safety in You and You alone. Bless each home my Lord and calm the hearts and fears of your people.

While our circumstances aren’t ideal at the moment, we have so much to be thankful for. No matter what comes our way or what tomorrow may bring we know that we can be content in EVERY situation. Our hope is in you Lord!

 “ I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” PHILIPPIANS 4:13

 

Encouragement

Becoming A Woman Of The Word

Becoming Women of the Word

The world gives us a recipe for happiness using the following ingredients:

  • wealth
  • fame
  • status 
  • popularity 
  • approval
  • purpose
  • possessions

     Society tells us that in order for us to be truly happy, we need to achieve all of these things, or we otherwise will not experience a full, rewarding, and enjoyable life. We frequently base the value of our lives upon the accomplishments that we have checked off of our lists, how many commas appear in our savings account, and the square footage of our not-so-humble-abodes.  Social media has thrusted us into a constant game of comparison, which often times leaves us feeling defeated, discouraged, and disappointed.

We, as women, wives, and mothers fall victim to the comparison game all too often. We judge, critique, and scrutinize our appearances, career choices, family sizes, and lifestyle choices based on the thoughts and opinions of others. We allow people sitting on the other end of a computer screen to have more significance in our lives than what the Word of God says should hold true significance. What if we put as much emphasis on becoming who God called us to be instead of trying to become who the world says that we should be?

So, what does God really want for us? What does he actually expect from us as women? As wives? As mothers? What and who has He called us to be, and how do we even begin?

Grab your Bible off the table, open the app on your phone…and get in the Word.

Ask God to reveal His truths to you and to speak to your heart. Pray that He will give you wisdom and understanding and that you will be able to apply His Word to your life.

Focus on one thing at a time. Is this an area that you struggle in? What are some things you can do to help you start applying these principles to your life? Here’s a few places you might want to look to get your started:

  • Proverbs 31:10-31
  • Colossians 3:18
  • 1 Timothy 3:11
  • 1 Peter 3
  • 1 Timothy 2
  • Titus 2

It’s time that we start embracing the lives that we have been blessed with as women of God! You are cherished and loved by your Creator! His love for you is immeasurable and He has a work for you to do. He has placed a calling on your life and His Word will equip you for it. ❤️

 

 

 

Family Food & Fun

12 Days Of Family Christmas Fun

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

On Friday, we kicked off our family festivities for the Christmas season! I love making memories with my husband and children!  This year, I have vowed to keep things simple. This year we are focusing on presence…not presents. 

We always want to keep our focus on the true meaning of the Christmas and why we celebrate…the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. While our Christmases, in comparison to most others, falls into a modest category, I can still find myself falling into the commercialism trap at times, but this year, I am determined to stay the course. The first Christmas was simple, and ours will be too.

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New toys are great for a few weeks, and then they end up on the bottom of a toybox, but memories can last a lifetime. Make memories with your little ones this year momma. Make the mess. Use the glitter. Stay up past bedtime. Let that laundry go, and soak in every second of this Christmas with your family!

Here are some of the things that we are doing this Christmas season and I’m so excited! Maybe a few of these ideas could jumpstart your family’s Christmas activities this year. I hope you have an amazingly blessed holiday season and make wonderful memories!

Christmas Candy:

Hit Pinterest up and get in the kitchen with your little ones momma! There are so many creative ideas that everyone can find something that they like! Start a new tradition of making it every year. Make old favorites with grandma’s tried and true recipe. Just enjoy the time together! (If you like peanut butter and chocolate, here’s my recipe for Peanut Butter Balls. YUM!)

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Festive Breakfasts:

Put a spin on breakfast with these festive but simple ideas. **Never underestimate what a little sprinkles and food coloring can do!**

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Christmas Music: 

One of the Christmas memories that sticks out the most in my mind is my mom playing a Christmas record on our record player. She cranked it up and we danced all around our living room while belting out “Frosty The Snowman”. I can remember laughing and giggling and how much fun I had that day. Put on some music for your little ones then dance and sing away! 

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Christmas Movies:

Hallmark, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu…there’s so many to choose from! Some of our favorites are: The Nativity Story, White Christmas, Elf, The Grinch, and It’s A Wonderful Life.

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Hot Chocolate:

Put together a hot chocolate bar and let your little ones exercise their culinary creativity. (We like marshmallows, peppermint sticks, whipped cream, and sprinkles.) Click here for my slow cooker hot chocolate recipe.

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Salt Dough Ornaments:

Trim your tree this year with handmade ornaments by your little ones with this simple salt dough ornament recipe. These are so fun to make!

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Photo by Frans Van Heerden on Pexels.com

 

Christmas Lights:

Whether you hang your own outside or visit a local display, get out and enjoy the beauty of all those twinkling lights! There are usually even drive by displays if the weather is too icky or cold or you have tiny little ones. Check your local paper or events pages for some ideas of places you can visit for some lights.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

Christmas Parades & Parties:

Our small country town holds an annual Christmas parade. If your hometown doesn’t have a Christmas parade, check your neighboring towns and venture out. Set out on a family adventure and see what you can find!

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Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

Christmas Attractions & Activities:

This year we decided to try something new. We heard of a “Christmas Cave” that puts on a beautiful Nativity display in a neighboring state. The trip is just a little over an hour, so we will be making a little day trip out of it. Some of our friends visited this year and said it was awesome, so we are going to visit it as well this year. Are there any local attractions or activities for you and your family to visit this year?

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Photo by Vinícius Vieira Fotografia on Pexels.com

Christmas Cookies:

Christmas cookies! One of my favorite things to make during Christmas time! We love making sugar cookie batter and cutting them out with cookie cutters. The kids decorate them with sprinkles and watch them rise in the oven. The smell of sugar cookies in the oven always remind me of Christmas time when I was a child. (Click here for my sugar cookie recipe)

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Christmas Crafts:

Paper plates, scissors, glue, glitter, beads, cloth, ribbon…get creative! There are thousands of ideas for all different ages on Pinterest. Pop your masterpieces up on the refrigerator once you’ve completed them for all to view.

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Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

Christmas Books, Stories, & Scripture:

My kids love to be read to and I love to read to them! Cuddle up under some blankets and dive into some good books! Read the Christmas story in the Bible to your children and discuss what happened. Let them ask questions. Ask them to draw pictures of what you read. Let them help pick our books they would like for you to read to them. If you are anything like us, one book can quickly turn into 10!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Volunteer or Help Others In Need:

One of the greatest gifts anyone could ever receive is your love and your time. Do something kind for someone. It doesn’t always have to involve money, as some of the most important things in life have no monetary value, but they mean everything. Share a meal, donate to your local mission or shelter, offer your time or services to those in need. Pray for others. Share the good news of Jesus with others and most importantly, love others.

God bless you and your families this Christmas season! 

 

Family Food & Fun

Homemade Sugar Cookies

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My mom used this recipe every year with my brother and I to make Christmas cookies. I am blessed to be able to make these same cookies with my children today!

  • 1 1/2 cups softened butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

I like using my stand mixer, but a hand mixer also works well.

Cream your butter and sugar until they are smooth. Beat in your eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Cover your dough and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll your dough out with a rolling pin onto a floured surface. Using your choice of cookie cutters, cut into shapes and put the cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. (Make sure that your dough is not too thick as your cookies will rise substantially)

Let your little ones decorate with sprinkles if you choose. This is always the fun part!

Bake your cookies for 6-8 minutes in a preheated oven. Let them cool completely before removing them from your baking sheet.

You can also use royal icing to decorate the cookies for a more sophisticated look.

 

Family Food & Fun

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate

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There’s nothing like sitting under a comfy blanket sipping on some yummy hot chocolate. My kids LOVE hot chocolate (the more marshmallow the better). Here is a super simple recipe that you can throw in your crockpot.

Dump in:

  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 cups of whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of milk chocolate chips

Give your ingredients a quick stir, turn your crockpot to low, and let it warm for about 2 hours stirring it occasionally.

Add your choice of toppings…marshmallow, sprinkles, peppermint sticks… and enjoy!

Family Food & Fun

Peanut Butter Balls

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These peanut butter balls are a holiday favorite in our family. They are so creamy and easy to make! Savor them at home or stash some in a beautiful tin for a gift of sweet treats.

  • 2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup room temperature butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Place these ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and heat for about 1 minute.

  • Stir in 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar to achieve a stiff consistency (Add up to an additional 1/2 cup if the consistency is too soft)

Roll the dough into 1 inch round balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place these in a freezer for about 30 to an hour.

Melt your chocolate (I usually use candy melts but have also used almond bark) TBSP of shortening or oil to your chocolate to thin the consistency.

Dip your peanut butter balls into the melted chocolate and place them back on the parchment paper to set.

You can store these in plastic Tupperware or even freeze them to pull out at a later time.

For an added decorative touch, add festive sprinkles to your peanut butter balls while the chocolate is still soft.