Devotional / Blog
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From The Christmas Kitchen a gathering place for making memories by Tammy Maltby with Anne Christian Buchanan Kids in the Kitchen The messy joy of creating with pint-sized cooks
Want to know the secret for a truly joyful, wonder-filled Christmas Kitchen? Make room for a kid—or kids—in it. Christmas, after all, is largely about children. It started with the coming of a child. It’s at its sweetest and most glorious when seen through a child’s eyes, experienced with the heart of a child. And to me, at least, no Christmas Kitchen is complete unless children share in its magic. Children reaching into cookie jars. Children standing on stools, sifting flour and licking bowls and beaters. Children setting the table for a family breakfast or making place cards for a dinner party, listening to family stories as they work. It’s all great holiday fun—for kids and adults alike.
Tips on Fun with Kids in the Kitchen
• Allow extra time for making crafts and recipes. If you’re not in a hurry, everything will be a lot more peaceful.
• Expect a mess—but expect the kids to help with cleanup too.
• Provide kids with appropriate-height work spaces (or sturdy stools) and, if possible, tools that fit their hands.
• Match the projects to the kids’ maturity level and plan activities that everyone can participate in without frustration.
• Especially with small children, don’t provide too many options for craft or food projects. Keep it simple.
• Whenever possible, let kids do the project (or their part in it) themselves. Don’t do it for them and just let them watch, and don’t insist they do things only one way.
• Do the activity with the children. (You’d be surprised how fun it can be to string macaroni on a piece of yarn!)
• Don’t have too many rules, but make the basics very clear: “Wash your hands.” “Always have an adult present.” Rules for using the stove or knives will depend on the age of the children.
• Expect the unexpected—and enjoy it.
“Thank You for Helping Me Grow” Christmas Snack Mix
It’s easy to make, and kids love the pouring and mixing. It’s also beautifully Christmasy. My kids made it for their teachers, packaged in an adorable flowerpot—and it was always a hit.
1 large (14 ounce) bag red and green candy-covered chocolate pieces (such as M&M’s)
1 large (14 ounce) bag red and green candy-and-chocolate-covered peanuts (such as peanut M&M’s)
1 large bag (11 ounce) red and green candy-and-chocolate-covered almonds (such as almond M&M’s)
3 cups corn cereal squares (such as Chex)
3 cups rice cereal squares (such as Chex)
3 cups oat cereal circles (such as Cheerios)
4 cups small pretzels
1 16-ounce jar dry-roasted peanuts
1 small can (about 9 ounces) mixed nuts or cashews
1 6-ounce package dried cherries, cranberries, or blueberries
2 pounds almond bark or white-chocolate chips
Mix all dry ingredients together in large bowl or jumbo (2.5 gallon) zippered plastic bag. In large microwave-safe container, melt almond bark or chocolate chips, stirring after every 30 seconds. Carefully pour over dry mixture and mix together thoroughly. Spread mixture on parchment or waxed paper to cool, breaking up large clumps. (Mix will be coated but not completely white.) Makes about 15 cups.
To make the gift package for teachers, pour mix into flowerpots lined with plastic wrap and “plant” an artificial poinsettia or other flower in each pot. Add a pretty bow and a card from your child that says, “Thank you for helping me grow.” The child can write or dictate a personal note: “I like you because . . . ” “My best memory was . . . ”
For an even richer taste, substitute one 12-ounce package butterscotch chips for part of the almond bark or white chocolate. Delicious!
Yesterday, I shared how I wanted to hit the “re-start button”. But how do you really do that? How do you let go of what was and start fresh?
Today, I thought I’d elaborate on a few essentials to starting over. I would love your feedback at the end. Your comments always help fill in on the parts I miss and your stories serve to encourage others…so…don’t be shy, please leave your thoughts in the comment section below and let your story inspire others!
A few thoughts on starting over:
- Recognize that part of starting over means something else has ended. Loss of a loved one. Marriage. Divorce. Sickness. Healing. Birth of a child. Waywardness of your teenage child. Growing older. Loss of a position. Promotion. All of these circumstances, constitute change. And change, even when it’s good can cause stress.
I remember after the birth of my daughter, and then the birth of my son, as joyful as those moments were, their gift of life also meant a surrender of what was. No more care free nights of doing what I wanted (at least not routinely). Diapers, dishes, laundry all mounted as did my frustrations for my loss of free time and my future idealistic ideas of ministry and travelling the world.
Friends, it’s ok to grieve. It’s ok to feel loss even in blessings and especially ok to take every broken dream to God.
Some of my dearest friends have experienced considerable loss this year…death of loved ones, an unfaithful spouse, divorce, sickness, and children changing from doting loving children to unyielding, wild running, untamed horses–resisting their upbringing of godly teachings.
In moments like these we must let go of all our own strength, and submit every concern, fear, and regret to God.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ” (NIV)
Allow yourself time to grieve, to let go of “what was” and to embrace “what is” by submitting everything to God in prayer.
- The second part of restarting, after letting go of “what was” is embracing “what is”.
Whew. Now that’s a tall order. How do you embrace what is without allowing it to kill your hope of what is yet to come?
Can I just say, I don’t have this down perfect yet. But part of what I’m learning is that “embracing what is doesn’t mean embracing the discouragement but rather embrace God in the midst of the pain. The last two years caused me much heartache. We’ve lost every inch of stable ground to stand on…except GOD Himself. And in the process, God stripped us of our self-reliance and self-determination. Every day demanded hitting the restart button, and a surrender to embrace the Truth of WHO GOD IS and rest in His promises, knowing He works all things together for our good.
Throughout our last two years we undertook three moves, three job changes, sold houses, purchased new businesses, sold a couple business, ventured to new locations, found new churches, built new friendships and let go of past ones, helped our children during each transition, said goodbye to accustomed luxuries and learned to live on less in order to live more for the kingdom…at each turn…there was a death to self and an embracing of the cross we were called to carry.
I imagine many of you can relate. Times have not been easy for many in these last couple of years. So, the key to successfully hitting the restart button to life, is to EMBRACE GOD. Embrace His Goodness. To remember WHO we serve. And KNOW He is able to do the impossible.
In order to successfully hit the “restart button” we have to:
- Let go of “what was”, embrace “what is”, and always look forward to “what is yet to come”.
Friends, life is full of change. And in the midst of the fiery furnace, in the midst of desert wanderings, in the midst of tyrant kings who search to destroy our lives…it can be tough to remember…”OUR STORY ISN’T FINISHED YET!”
Throughout the hardships of my life, childhood abuse, sexual abuse, divorce, neglect, years of searching for significance, economic hardships, betrayals…GOD HAS NEVER LEFT ME! And in the midst of the most horrific situations HE ALONE established my hope and gave me strength to press on, reminding me…”JULIE, YOUR STORY ISN’T FINISHED YET!” And today, I want to encourage you…NEITHER IS YOURS!!!
You hit the restart button every day, every minute of every day, and every second of every minute by holding fast to the truth that GOOD THINGS are yet to come. God doesn’t waste anything.
Isaiah 43:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (NIV)
In the MIDST of our desert God provides streams, and HE WILL work ALL THINGS together for our GOOD. Jeremiah 29:11 promises, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)
Friends, HIT THE RESTART BUTTON! Let go of what was, embrace what is, and ALWAYS look forward to WHAT IS YET TO COME!
PRAYER: Father, give us strength to do everything listed in this post. And may our lives reflect Your goodness. Hold fast to us. Never let us fail. Thank You for Your love. We put our hope in You. Help us to start each day fresh, confident in WHO YOU ARE. AMEN.
“Stop it Steve; that’s enough!” I covered my ears; his incessant honking was no longer funny.
But, Steve continued, determined to press harder and longer on the horn, laughing, at his ability to be in control.
“Stop it Steve!” My sister lunged her hand, hitting Steve’s elbow-locked arm…and just that quick…the world Steve felt so in control of…turned upside down…and so did ours . Our van veered back and forth across the road, tilted on two wheels, hit a guard rail, and then flipped over and over again.
I closed my eyes, watching my life flash before me. I recalled my grandmother’s recent accident and the comment the doctors made to my grand-father about her survival: “It’s a good thing she was sleeping. She probably survived this crash because her body was so relaxed.”
Though, today, I’m not sure what made the doctor say that, at the time, I kept saying, “Just relax and you’ll make it through!” So, I let my body smack against the sink counter, along with our couch that pulled out into a bed, and then landed hitting the ceiling; the van finally came to a stand still. It was completely totalled but miraculously, we each survived to live another day.
It’s funny how we can feel completely in control one minute, feeling as if we have the world by its tail, then all of a sudden the tail snaps off, and we helplessly watch our world spin wildly out of control. We find ourselves crashing up against things, unexpectedly twisting and turning, in a complete state of un-control.
Can I be completely honest with you? I’ve felt like that many times this week. I find myself questioning God’s direction for my life. I keep asking Him, “What is it that YOU really want?” I’ve teetered between commanding mountains to be moved and pulling covers back over my head. What can I say…I guess I’m human! And dear friends, I’ve found the only safe thing for us to do in moments like these is to “Relax…and to remind ourselves…we’ll make it through!”
Perhaps the reason our world begins spinning uncontrollably is to bring us to the place we should have started and remained…in a place of SURRENDER!
Not surrendered to the chaos, not surrendered to our own abilities, not surrendered to plans of action or the antithesis of helpless retreats…but SURRENDERED to the One Who is in control…SURRENDERED to the One Who holds our future…SURRENDERED securely to the One Who loves us unconditionally.
Unfortunately, heartaches and disappointments are certain in life…it’s what we do with them that defines us! I for one am resolved to release each fear, each heartache, and each disappointment to JESUS…confident that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it!
So if your world seems to be spinning wildy out of control…RELAX…and surrender each ambition, dream, and vision to God. He speaks peace, commanding storms and waters to stop raging…AND…even greater news is HE CARES FOR US!
Matthew 6:31-33 assures us of His provision; it says, “So do not worry , saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (NIV)
PRAYER: Thank You LORD that YOU ARE in control and YOU ARE working all things together for our good. Thank You for Your love, grace, and mercy. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit. Let our life count for You. In Jesus name, we pray, amen.
I long for the day when I no longer have to fight “the accusers” accusations. You know, the small voice that whispers “You’ll never be good enough.” Or “If God really wanted to use you, then … wouldn’t have happend!” I look forward to not having to deal with all his subtleties of confusion, discouragement, and disappointment.
Scripture says that Satan “masquerades as an angel of light.” He doesn’t show up with his entourage of demons spewing fire and venom; he cloaks himself in small subtleties, hoping to go unnoticed…undetected. He hopes to infiltrate our hopes with discouragement, our mission with busy activity, and our mind with confusion.
1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” So…stand guard dear friends. Pay attention to the subtle accusations whispered in your ear. Reject the enemy’s lies. BE ALERT! Don’t be naive…there is a battle being made for you. Satan hurls accusations in an attempt to defeat, discourage, and distract each one of us from God’s call. BUT the good news is, we can and will overcome Him.
We overcome him, by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony.
Satan cannot stand against the truth of our salvation. The truth is, we have been purchased. It is not by our merit, not by our works, not by our accomplished achievements…it is a gift of GOD through Jesus. We overcome each accusation by reminding ourselves of the truth of our salvation found only in Christ. It is so important to remember where our hope comes from and to remind ourselves that God doesn’t require us to be “successful” He calls us to be “faithful”.
- Secondly, we overcome each lie by the word of our testimony. Here is our chance to actively participate with GOD. We speak forth the truth. When the enemy hurls accusations of “You’ll never be good enough.” We respond with, “True, we will never be good enough. In our own power we can’t, but GOD CAN. His Word declares that we can do all things through Him…that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. We will prevail, because God is with us. When He acts…who can reverse? The key to overcoming Satan’s accusations is to counter them with the Truth of God’s word.
The only way to overcome accusation, discouragement, and defeat…is to press in to Jesus…press in to the hope of our salvation…and cling to the truth of His word…making His word the word of our testimony.
God has great plans in store for each one of us. He has predestined us to be conformed to HIS likeness. He positioned us securely in His love. We will accomplish all He has promised.
So…Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Resist the enemy…and he will flee…draw near to God…and GOD WILL DRAW near to you!
NEVER FORGET…You are His Love Extended! Shine brightly for Him and have an awesome weekend! Let me know if there is any way I can pray for you. And if you know of someone who is discouraged or someone who would appreciate words of encouragement…pass His Love Extended’s Blog-site on to them.
PRAYER: Father, we love You so much. Thank You that You have given us everything we need that pertains to life and godliness. Fill us to overflowing. Give us Your mind. Fill our heart. Make us secure. IN JESUS name, amen.
This morning as I spent my own quiet time in prayer the Lord caused me to think of a time from my early twenties; it was a difficult season. No matter what decision I made, disaster seemed imminent. I crawled into bed, turned to my side, and curled into a fetal position.
“Lord, I just cant ‘go on!” “I can’t live like this any longer!” Tears slowly trickled from the corners of my eyes as I laid helpless, powerless, and feeling completely trapped by circumstances.
Then, in a single moment, God’s peace covered me from head to toe. I felt a soft caress across my cheek and the curve of a presence surround me. The Lord spoke directly to my spirit, “It’s OK. I’m here. And, I love you.”
I didn’t want to move for fear of losing one single moment of His presence. His Spirit comforted me in a way that I knew I wasn’t alone. His peace was so present. It felt tangible, like a warm blanket covering and protecting me from the cold reality of my situation.
Today, I sensed His Spirit, quietly reminding me HE IS REAL. HE IS NEAR. He’s whispering “IT’S OK” and that “HE LOVES ME.” I also sensed I wasn’t the only one who needed to feel His presence or be reassured that He is near. So…hear God’s promise from Isaiah 49:15-16. It says, ”Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;” (NIV)
Beloved, HEAR GOD’S PROMISE, spend time basking in His presence, take a few moments to ask Him to speak to you. Take time to read a passage from His Word. Wait and listen for Him to speak. When He does, write it down and carry it with you today.
Until tomorrow, I want to encourage you to continue on as we venture in this 21 day adventure of seeking God together–asking Him to speak, reading a chapter from the Bible, and writing down what He shares to our spirit during a few moments of silence before Him.
I’m already receiving a lot of notes from you about the amazing ways God is speaking and leading…feel free to share your experiences below…I know I am blessed by reading them…others will be too!
PRAYER: Father, thank You that You are real, that You are faithful, and that You still speak to us. We wait to hear Your whispers today and promise to follow where You lead. In Jesus name, amen.
C’mon. I know you can say it with me: Stop…Drop…And, Roll?
I’ve learned to keep this little drill in the back of my mind and have made my own “SPIRITUAL” application for when the trials of life rage against me and circumstances seem overwhelming….
Hope you find meaningful application too!
- Stop:Grace and mercy are obtained when we wait upon the Lord. “They that wait upon the Lord, will renew their strength!” (Is. 40:31) Take time to pause before God. Remember Who He Is. He is good. He is faithful.
- Drop:Weariness fades when we draw near to God and drop the heavy weights that we’ve picked up. Drop trying to “achieve,” “accomplish,” or “acquire.” We should have one single mission in life to love, serve, and honor God…to seek Him above all other things.
- Roll: Roll with the flow of His Spirit. It’s not by our might. It’s not by our power. It’s by His Spirit. And His Spirit breathes forth life. I constantly remind myself to quit trying to live in my own power. It’s from Him, through Him, and by Him that all things were created…I am simply called to love Him and faithfully follow where HE leads.
Friend, we have to ask ourselves: Who do I really believe God to be? Do I believe He Is Faithful?
Genesis 17:7-8 declares God’s promise: I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.” (NIV)
I want to encourage you today:
STOP being so busy and spend time alone with God.
DROP any fear, worry, or doubts and replace them with the truth of His Word (the bible.)
And, ROLL with the punches of life. Bask in God’s GLORY. Know Who HE is and hold fast to His promises.
God is faithful. HE KEEPS HIS PROMISES. So, until next week, Remember to Dream Big. Laugh Often. Know that God has it all under control!