A Cookie or A Cracker

Have you ever noticed the similarities between crackers and cookies?  To start with, they both start with “c”.  Then there is the fact that they are both finger foods and important additions to the table at most parties.  But anyone can easily tell you the differences between cookies and crackers.  The differences far outweigh the similarities.  Usually cookies are soft (unless you’re a baker like me and forget to set the timer while they’re baking), but crackers are usually crunchy.  Cookies can stand alone, although they also know how to work well with a glass of milk or dish of ice-cream.  Crackers almost always depend upon cheese to make their flavor complete.  Cookies are sweet and pleasing to the taste buds; while crackers are dry and salty (an excellent combination to make one thirsty).

So I started thinking about my life and relationships with those around me.  I started wondering if I am a cracker or a cookie to my family, friends, students, social media friends…  And then I started to become ashamed of myself because I often have exhibited all the traits of a cracker.

One of the most important parts of a relationship is being able to understand and forgive.  In other words, staying soft!  Staying soft means not immediately jumping to conclusions or becoming offended by the littlest of things.  I’m afraid that I often harden up the relationships around me because I misread my family and friends’ intentions.  I become bitter and crunchy when I am hurt in a friendship instead of forgiving and asking God to soften the misunderstanding.

Often I think that I need to have “cheese” around me because I’m not enough on my own.  I need just the right brand of clothing, just the perfect personality, just the…. (you fill it in).  We, humans, surround our lives with the things we think will make people accept us and find us special.  We then follow the crowd and popular thought so that we continue to fit in.  We are simply a cracker.  Whereas a cookie knows that its Baker made it special enough just as it is and doesn’t need to find acceptance through anything or anyone.  And it’s good to remember that true friends will love us just as we are, with our quirky chocolate chips, M&M’s, or peanut-butter flavor, and won’t care what brand of flour we wear or the size of the kitchen we live in.  A cookie will also work well with others, but it still will know how to think on its own and stand up for what it believes.

What about after I leave a reunion, party, or one-on-one chat?  Have I left a pleasing reputation?  Have I helped to share the workload?  Do I leave a sweet taste behind?  Or do I leave relationships feeling dry and thirsty because I was taking instead of giving?  I know what it feels like to get off of the phone feeling exhausted because I spent the entire time listening to the other person’s problems.  I know the eye-rolls I give when I read yet another facebook status from someone that uploads a complaint about five times every hour.  I know the frustration of having company and waiting like a servant on them while not even receiving a thank-you.  I know when other people are like crackers, but do I pay attention to myself and know when I am leaving relationships parched?

It’s easy to be a cracker- doesn’t take practice, doesn’t take extra thought, doesn’t call for a change.

But working to be a cookie will be a challenge.  It doesn’t come naturally for most people, including myself.  But with the help of my Baker, I’m gonna work at being the best cookie I can be so I can sweeten up all the relationships around me!

 

Colossians 3:12-14 (ESV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

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Do You Wanna’ Build A Snowman?

Here are some fun wintery activities I’ve found on Pinterest to keep those home-from-school kids occupied.

 

1.  Of course- Build a snowman!  Or be creative and build whatever the imagination can create.

Cute Backyard Ideas for Winter Decorating, 25 Creative Snow Sculptures

 

2.  Put colored water in empty containers and set outside to freeze.  Once frozen, use the colored blocks to create an igloo.

If you live in a cold climate, this would be fun.  Save milk cartons.  Fill with colored water and leave outside to freeze.  Then build a fort or igloo.  See the site for pretty pics of the igloo at night with a light inside.

 

3.  Hide things at different places in the yard and then have a scavenger hunt in the snow!

 

4.  Blow bubbles when temperatures are below freezing for magical results.

I copied some frozen bubble tips below from http://www.housingaforest.com/frozen-bubbles/.

Tips for creating a frozen bubble:

  • The colder the temperature the better.  We were blowing our bubbles at -30 F but I have heard it working at -12 F.
  • Find an area that is sheltered from the wind. Even the slightest breeze will carry your bubble.
  • Blow the bubbles high in the air so that as they float to the ground they have time to freeze.
  • Depending on your temperature/weather ~ it can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few moments for the bubbles to freeze and start forming crystalline patterns.
  • We had the most success with catching our bubbles on the bubble wand.  Most of the ones that fell to the ground shattered.
  • Try blowing bubbles early in the morning or in the evening.  This is the colder part of your day and will help your bubbles stay frozen.
  • Wave your wand instead of blowing into the wand to make bubbles.  The warm air from your lungs causes the bubble to take longer to freeze.

 

5.  Freeze colored water in balloons and set outside.  Once frozen, remove the balloon.  The colored and crystallized spheres are gorgeous!

 

6.  At dusk, create designs under the snow with glow sticks.

 

7.  Make snow ice-cream.  Be creative with your flavors!  Recipe is at http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/how-to-make-snow-ice-cream-recipe/#_a5y_p=1153225.

Learn how to make homemade Snow Ice Cream with this easy tutorial.  All you need are 4 ingredients plus some fresh snow! gimmesomeoven.com

 

8.  Mix kool-aid flavors in squeeze bottles for some fun snowy yard painting.

Kool-aid snow paint is super vibrant and smells amazing which makes it even more fun for kids

 

 

9.  Once your toes are almost frostbitten, come on in and warm up with a hot-cocoa bar.

Great ideas! Different ways to make hot chocolate - peanut butter hot chocolate, vegan hot chocolate, Nutella hot chocolate and much more!

 

10.  Then grab some appetizer picks and roast marshmallows over unscented tea lights for evening s’mores.

You take mini marshmallows, roast them over tea-light candles, and top them with a single chocolate chip, smooshed between two golden grahams. -- ok, this is so going in my altoids tin!

 

11.  Fill a pan with snow and give the children paintbrushes and watercolors.  Score- you have an instant canvas!

Painting the snow indoors- so fun!

 

12.  Bring out a bunch of clothing, shoes, purses, toys, etc… for props and costumes for an indoor movie set.  The kids are the actors, and you do the movie recording.  Twenty years later, those home movies will be a lot of fun to rewatch!

 

13.  Assign each member of the family a character from a “snow” book and have each one say his/her part as the book is read through.

 

14.  End off the evening with everyone making forts in the family room.  The entire family will think it’s fun to spend the night in cozy little tents.

Printed Cotton Canvas Play Tent: Available in petal damask, dove damasl or antique stripe. Comes with Collapsible aluminum poles, velcro tabs to open and close the front door, and a matching storage bag. #Tent #Kids

 

Would love to hear your snowy-day ideas!

 

Who Is Jesus

I was searching in the archives for something to share and remembered the article “Who Is Jesus?” which was written for The Daughters of Promise magazine last summer. 

Please check out this refreshing magazine for Christian girls and women- every issue is full of inspiring and encouraging articles, interesting writings, and beautiful pictures.  Visit http://daughters-of-promise.org/home.htm for more info!

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                                                                   Who Is Jesus?

“Who is Jesus?” we ask the little girl as she clutches her teddy bear and slides into the social worker’s car.

She looks at us with big eyes as she replies, “He is a Daddy who never leaves me or hurts me.”

“Who is Jesus?” we ask the woman as she sits in the rocking chair.

Her shaky hands put down her knitting, and her laugh rings as silver as the color of her hair. “Why, He is my Beloved. He loves me when I am lonely.”

“Who is Jesus?” we ask the beaten young woman as we gaze at her through the bars.

She closes her eyes and whispers, “He is a Deliverer from evil and Strength in my weakness.”

“Who is Jesus?” we ask you. There is no way to avoid the question. Jesus has been a topic of conversation, ground for debate, and spark of discussion for over two-thousand years. Jesus is one of the key points that separate Christianity from other religions. What is it about Jesus that makes Him so unlike anyone this world has ever known? Why is He mentioned over nine-hundred times in the Bible? What is it about this name that people are and were willing to suffer rejection from family and friends, journey into dangerous parts of the world, give their lives at the stake, and endure torture, starvation, and imprisonment?

            We have heard Him preached in sermons, taught in sunday-school lessons, and sung in hymns. We can recite the story- Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth as a baby, was crucified, rose from the grave after three days, ascended into Heaven, and is coming back at the end of the world to judge the saved and unsaved. We may even be apologetic professionals and know all the proofs that support Jesus- things like early and accurate manuscripts, fluent and extensive Gospels, fulfilled prophecies, eyewitnesses, an empty tomb, followers willing to suffer martyrdom….

Simple, right? Isn’t that all we need to know? No! We need to REALLY understand Who Jesus Is because that is what makes the dramatic difference in how and why we live our lives. Jesus is a fascinating combination of Deity and Humanity who longs to be in a personal relationship with us.

            From the beginning of time, we have record of Jesus (Genesis 1:26). Jesus was there the entire time, because He was the Son of God. He was living in full majestic power and glory, and things were going well at the beginning of the earth’s birth. The Deity had created the perfect masterpiece. There was not a flaw of pain, hurt, abuse, hate, or sin to be found—- but then, the human race changed all of that.

Imagine spending long hours sewing a new shirt for Johnny to wear for his birthday party at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Saturday morning, as you help him button up the shirt, you warn him not to get dirty because there will be consequences. Later, you find Johnny hiding in the corner of the barn. His new shirt is torn and smeared where he had attempted to clean off mud with a rag. He hangs his head and cries, “Mommy, I’m sorry. I didn’t know I would get dirty while I was playing.” You shake your head; he would have to suffer the consequences. But yet, amidst your anger, you feel such love for your little boy, love that prompts you to give him another chance. You put Johnny to work at some extra chores and sit down at the sewing machine once again. Your eyes are tired, and your fingers hurt; but you get another new shirt made. Johnny gets the chores done in enough time to go to the party, but you are left at home. You missed the party in his place, because the extra time spent sewing meant the bread for Sunday’s potluck was still not baked.

That is what Jesus did, but to a much greater degree! He saw the hopeless state of eternal death and misery that sin had put us in and chose to take our punishment. Mankind waited for this prophesied Messiah to set them free, but they could not fathom the degree of His love. They expected to see Him in His full Divinity because He was a King (Is. 33:22), Redeemer (Job 19:25), Emmanuel (Is. 7:14), and Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6).

            They waited; but they missed Jesus’ arrival, because the Galaxy-Spinner and Star-Twirler had traded Heaven for earth. He had left power, glory, and beautiful harmony for a decaying planet, reeking of hate and sin. The angels must have gasped in disbelief. Kings do not walk with publicans and sinners. Kings are addressed by “Your Majesty “, not simply as a Child (Luke 2:43), Carpenter (Mark 6:3), Prophet (Mark 8:28), and Teacher (Math. 19:16).

Jesus was human, but He was still divine. However, that does not mean that He was lifted above the struggles and pains of humanity. He was flesh; He felt the same joys, pains, fears, and even temptations that we feel (Hebrews 2:18). He came as a baby, grew up as a child, and experienced the adolescent years. He was subject to His parents and honored His elders. Jesus had to wait thirty years until it was His time to fulfill his mission. However, He did not simply wait; He worked, served, and learned during that time.

Jesus was a complete stranger without a home, support, church, or family to fall back upon for refreshment and support (Luke 9:58). Even the circle of friends He did have were not there when He truly needed them, and one “faithful follower” betrayed Him for a few pieces of silver.

Jesus fully knew what He would have to suffer. Do you wonder if He ever lay awake at night, tossing and turning as He realized that each day only brought Him closer to His execution? In His final hours, He pleaded with God to work out another plan, but there was no other way. He wanted someone to be there with Him; but everyone was too tired, too scared, or too ashamed. “…Then all the disciples forsook Him, and fled” (Math. 26:56b KJV). He was arrested like a criminal and faced trial. He was scourged and marred beyond recognition. He had only done good and helped people, yet a murderer was chosen for release over Him. The very people He was dying for screamed, “Crucify him!” The soldiers drove spikes through His wrists and feet. He was mocked and spit upon, and the weight of the world’s sin came down upon Him. The Lamb, a perfect sacrifice, had taken on humanity’s soiled garments and was dying alone.

We think Jesus was a superhero whose powers kept Him aloof from the full pain of betrayal, mockery, torture, and loneliness; but although divine, He was also human. He felt every curse, every hammer’s blow, and every whip’s lash.

            Then Jesus died, but it was not over. He had entered death for our sakes. The world had given up on Him because they thought He was merely a man. They forgot that Jesus was the Son of God. But three days later, Jesus proved that the power of His Deity and Humanity had conquered death and saved the world. Before returning to His Father’s side, He left His followers with the promise to return and show all mankind His true Deity. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.  For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; And hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:25-29 KJV).

         Knowing Who Jesus Is takes more than facts and knowledge, it takes a relationship. Most religious founders tried to turn themselves into gods so they would be not be a man and relate to us on our level; the Son of God became a man so that He could enter into a relationship with us. There is something beautiful about Jesus on this level.

What does He mean to us personally as women? Watch as He takes the children into His arms (Mark 10:16), see as He saves the adulterous woman about to be stoned (John 8:7), look at His love for Mary as she anoints His feet (Luke 7:44), listen as He takes time to speak with an outcast woman at the well (John 4), and glance at the scene of Him healing the woman who had suffered for so many years (Luke 13:11-13). Jesus does not view us as inferior or unworthy because we are women. “There is neither Jew nor Greek…bond nor free…male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28 KJV). Jesus’ first recorded miracle was done for His mother’s sake, He chose women to be the announcers of the empty tomb, and it was a woman who first saw Him after the resurrection.

            Just pay attention to His love. Read through the Gospels and notice how many times it says that He was “moved with compassion”. One of the most powerful prayers recorded is the one Jesus prayed for us in His final hours. “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given me, that they may be one, as We are. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given me, be with Me where I am…” (John 17: 9, 11, 15, 20, 24a KJV).

Jesus is our Bridegroom because we long to be chosen, our Hope because we face doubt and depression, our Light because we stumble in the dark, our Father because we long for our hand to be held by a Protector, our Ransom because we were a slave in Satan’s district, and our High Priest because our sin needed forgiven.

Right now, Satan is hurling accusations against us as he tries to drag us back into his realm. But Jesus looks at us and says, “She is Mine. She is My Bride, My Daughter, My Beloved. I purchased her with My blood. She was ugly and unlovely, but I chose her anyways. See her now; she shines in radiance and beauty because she has loved Me in return. You may not have her because I am Jesus- her Advocate (1 John 2:1), Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), and Faithful Witness (Rev. 1:5-6).

            Knowing Who Jesus Is will be something we are constantly discovering, because He is an indescribable majestic combination of Son of God and Son of Man. Jesus is what gives us women purpose, meaning, strength, and courage for life as He walks beside us every day in a personal relationship. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39 KJV).

Some Colors In My Life

These are some of the colors that I am enjoying right now as they brighten my life with their happy hues!

 

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Blue:  A blue and white lace scarf which I picked up at my cousin’s shop in Intercourse, Pennsylvania.  You can find more information about her shop at  http://www.daisysheaskirts.com.

 

 

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Orange:  M is for Monkey by Kelly Kauffman.  An adorable children’s book written by my friend about her family’s pet monkeys they had while in Liberia.  Available at http://www.tgsinternational.com/products/m-is-for-monkey.

 

 

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Green:  A happy sign of Spring’s slow arrival.  The first sign of daffodils always fills me with great happiness!

 

 

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Tan:  My favorite food from the local Sheetz- strawberry parfaits!

 

 

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Brown:  Some great signing books.  Yup, I’m busy learning the signs for a new song which the choir will be signing.

 

 

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Red:  One of my favorite hand sanitizers from Bath and Body Works!

 

 

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Purple:  The vitamins which have greatly benefited my health lately- Coconut Oil, Iron, B-Complex, Fish Oil, Hair/Skin/and Nails, and Women’s Complete Ultimate Flora with 90 billion Live Cultures and 12 Probiotic Strains.

 

 

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Black:  There’s nothing like those black and white keys to help soothe a stressed and crazy day.

 

 

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 Yellow:  Two oldies that I recently stumbled across which are fun and only rated G.  Starring Don Knotts and Kurt Russell (two of my favorite oldie actors)! *Snowball Express has one little iffy comment at the beginning, but is completely family-friendly the rest of the way through.*

 

 

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White:  White is one of my favorite colors.  White means there are many exciting adventures ahead.  One never knows the potential of a white canvas until they start to use their imagination!

 

 

What are some of the colors you are enjoying today?

May you find joy in every hue of red, orange, green, blue, black, and white which surrounds you!