Understanding the Heart of Order

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Genesis chapter 1 begins with a beautiful picture of the creation of the world. We see our God as a God of order. He fashioned this world in six days, with structure, order and purposeful preparation. He did not create the lights for day and night (day 4) without first separating light and darkness (day 1). Fish and birds were carefully put into place (day 5) only after the sea and sky were designed (day 2). And land animals were only created (day 6) after a fertile earth was established (day 3).

There was order with each passing day. And there was no rush either. He could have easily fashioned everything in the blink of an eye. And yet He spread out his plan into tangible, daily steps. He thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Every aspect was good in His eyes. And there was intentional restful intervals. We see evening and morning passing before the next day of work begins. We see a separation of the seventh day of creation as an designated day of rest.

As we are created in His very image, I believe God has designed us to be creatures of order. God worked in an ordered, simple way, and we are commissioned to follow in this example. If we keep this vision in the foremost of our thinking, that God fashioned you to be orderly in your homemaking and lifestyle, than this goal will be a rock to stand upon. If the pursuit of order is based solely because of our own desires or comparing ourselves with others, they will have no lasting foundation and our desires, goals, and aim will quickly flutter away. We need to do it for the Lord and there it will be blessed.

Is clutter and disorder in our lives a good representation of Jesus Christ? Chaos in our lives may just be a sign or clue that our relationship with Christ is probably askew. If there is disorder, stress, and clutter, we may just want to step back and evaluate our hearts. Am I submitting to your design for order, God? Or is ME on the throne in my home and I cannot let go. Make sure Jesus is the Lord of your home, submit to His design, and He will guide you each step of the way.

Order requires planning. Do you have a specific time designated to plan? Meal planning, housecleaning planning, etc. God gave each tree, plant, vegetable, animal, and mankind a specific purpose. In a similar fashion, everything in our home and life should have a specific intentional purpose. If it doesn’t have a fruitful purpose, that it needs to be removed from our lives. Remember planning is a time saver. It prevents chaos. You might consider adopting the idea of taking a weekly planning retreat, which has provided me with this focused time to plan and prepare for the upcoming week.

Dear sisters, as we begin a new year, let us acknowledge our need for the Savior to enable us to be women of order, women whose heart’s desires flow from the beautiful design we have been fashioned to represent to this day and age. Thankfully His grace is amazing and will never fail us. There is no condemnation but grace and mercy to help pick us up every time we stumble and fall.

“Let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:1, 2)

Take Action:

1. Evaluate your heart: Is my heart in submission to the Lord Jesus? Is my relationship with the Lord first in my life? Am I cultivating specific times to spend with Him at His feet?
2. Schedule in intentional periods of rest this year. Are there margins in your life?
Ideas: schedule in your vacations now, schedule weekly planning retreats, develop specific steps for preserving Sunday as your day of rest.
3. What one thing do I need to let go of this year that is hindering my relationship with the Lord and order in my life?
This may be facebook or some other form of technology, a draining relationship, an regular outside event you attend, a specific toy or gadget in your home.

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. (1 Cor. 14:33)

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And A New Year Begins with Overflowing Goodness

Our new abode

Change, transition, emotions, and lots of blessings. That would described this past month at our home. We moved into our own sweet little home on December 30th and have been gradually making the transition of unpacking, cleaning, and making it our home. It has been a sweet time. We have had a generous crowd of friends and family assisting us in the transition, making it such a peaceful event. We now have a yard, patio, and even a hot tub (it came with the house of course, but who would refuse?) all on a quiet little cul-da-sac.We really believe God granted us this larger home so we could be purposeful and strategic in extending hospitality, and what a joy it has been to have our home overflowing with guests over the last few weeks.

So I have been spending my time during this blogging break simply getting my life in order, planning and setting goals for the new year, and getting the supplies necessary to maintain our new abode. Yes, I seriously needed a mop system! Never had hard wood floors to clean. The community in our neighborhood has also been a blessing. We met 5-6 of our neighbors the first day we moved in as they came over and welcomed us, and one family even brought us a meal. I was overwhelmed! Living in the city is such a contrast to a condo development. We anticipate great things as we begin to be able to reach out to our neighbors, co-workers, and others in this new season.

Announcing our new little one to our families over Christmas

We also discovered that a new little life has been forming in my womb over the last 10 weeks. We are thrilled to announce that Edmonds baby #3 is coming in August 2011! I am feeling very well, just experiencing normal tiredness, and wild emotions. It is a sweet time of life to be able to enjoy the blessings of new life.

Here at Passionate Homemaking, we will be having a focused theme for each month of this year – one that will help inspire and encourage you in your homemaking, womanhood, walk with the Lord, and relationships with others.  Our January focus is on simplifying, organization, and goal setting for the new year. February will bring lots of ideas for helping strengthen your marriage, and so much more. I am excited to see all that God will do in and through our team of writers.

We covet your prayers as we seek to be faithful stewards of our time, balancing our priorities, and seeking first the Kingdom!

To God be the glory!

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Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers Giveaway!

Forty years ago the Lord called Cliff Dudley into the Christian publishing field; upon his death some 20 years ago, He called Cliff’s son Tim into this same field. Tim Dudley has served as president for New Leaf Publishing Group (NLPG) for the past 20 years. Through the power of the printed page, NLPG’s mission is to win the lost to Christ and to bring balance to the body of Christ. Ink on paper to change eternity forever… that is our cause, this is their desire. NLPG offers a wealth of resources on Christian living, theology, homeschooling, creation science, classics, and so much more.

New Leaf Publishing Group offers one unique four-book series titled, Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers. This series discusses topics such as The Gospel, The Mission, The Scripture and The Trinity. The most foundational teachings of the Christian faith are presented in this series at a level preschool and elementary children can understand. In simple and precise language, God-centered theology is promoted, giving children a firm foundation in God’s timeless truth.

We simply love using this series of books with our little ones. They are solid doctrinally, simple, creative, and enjoyable to the eye, and in a cute small format. It is never too early to start teaching your children the value and beauty of the gospel. This set would make a great gift to any family with little ones!

New Leaf Publishing has offered one complete set of the Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers to one of our readers plus one copy of each title to four different winners!

To Enter:

1. Leave a comment below and share why you would like to receive this set and how you would use them in your home.

2. For a second optional entry, become a fan of New Leaf Publishing on facebook and let us know in a second comment.

Giveaway Closed.

And the winner is…

Grand prize winner (a complete set of the books): Kristen S. -  kpolywog@….

Runner ups…receiving 1 book from the set:

Jenny (cwjdbeak@…)
Amy S. (gottabelooney@…)
Penny (wilmoregirls@…)
Jessica (steveandjessica@…)

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Merry Christmas!

I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and let you all know that I am blessed by you! Thank you for taking the time to read, comment, and share your heart here at Passionate Homemaking. Another year is almost complete and we look forward to 2011 where we will be moving forward in continuing to help build, encourage, and inspire you to be passionate in your homemaking!

We pray that you have a blessed holiday season! We will be taking a blogging break till the first of the year as we seek to keep a simple Christmas and focus on the beauty of our Savior’s birth. We will be moving December 31st, so we have some packing to do after Christmas and set up our new home in Portland. We thank you for all your support and encouragement! We will see you back here in the new year!

P.S. There will be two fun giveaways posted on December 29th & January 1st during the break – stay tuned!

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Picture Perfect Families?

Written by monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan (with the lovely Dunagan family pictured at left).

Are you putting a family photo in this year’s Christmas cards? If so, I’m curious if you have an “inside” story behind your happy-looking picture?

Have you ever had a bad picture day? I’m referring to one of those photo-effort-extravaganzas which may have captured some successful family smiles, but left everyone, kids and parents included, totally disgruntled?

Oh, my!

With seven kids (and challenges with coordinating college and work schedules, not to mention clothing colors), we have definitely had our share of photo-day-disasters. Fortunately, even in our worst photo-moments, we are usually just dealing with some silly frustrations. In the end, most of us are usually thankful for a current picture of everyone together (or at least Momma’s happy!!!).

One wonderful aspect about having God as our focus and bulls-eye center of family life is that He always knows the inside scoop, even more than we do. None of us can fool the Lord, because He always knows the truth.

We all want happy families, lasting marriages, and good kids — not only for that impressive yearly photo or month-by-month annual family recap, but for that daily, behind-the-scenes, real-life joy. The Lord sees everything and watches us continually. Like that Santa Clause song, God really sees “when you’ve been bad or good”; but He loves our families enough to help us, (and fortunately His love is consistent, whether we’ve been “naughty” or “nice”).

The Lord sees inside our walls and behind closed doors.

He sees inside our “real” day-to-day family life . . . and He cares.

One of the reasons why I wrote The Mission-Minded Family – was to bring encouragement and God-centered focus to daily family life. From God’s Word, I know that it’s not enough to merely “look good” in our yearly Christmas photo, or to sit all-neat-and-orderly in the church pew (or in our situation, church chairs). It’s not enough to accumulate impressive mission-minded adventures, or to raise a houseful of exclusively homeschooled scholarship-winning kids (to make us, as parents, feel approved by others). It’s not enough to just make “enough” money or to live in a cute clean house.

So, what’s it all about?

The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14,

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,

For this is man’s all.

For God will bring every work into judgment,

Including every secret thing,

Whether good or evil.”

I love pondering this verse, especially the fact that God sees and judges every secret GOOD thing we do, both the good things we do individually and the good things we do as a family . . . not just the bad stuff!

God has a destiny for each family, and He has a divine balance for each day. He has a plan for each individual member, as well as a “corporate” purpose for each family unit. As Christians, we have been entrusted with God’s salvation and the truth of the gospel – and our world desperately needs it. Every day, across the globe, about 150,000 people will die and face their eternal future; most of these people are not saved; and about 80,000 of them never even heard about Jesus.

As mission-minded families, we love God; we hate sin; and we surrender to His purposes. Instead of living for ourselves, we’re helping to expand God’s kingdom. As we’ve emphasized God’s Great Commission and having compassion for hurting people, along with continually seeking God’s divine daily balance, the fruit in our personal lives has been awesome. By God’s grace, our marriage is strong and full of romance, our home is happy, and our kids are experiencing God’s blessings and favor. But these “perks” of the mission-minded life are not our focus.

God doesn’t want our families to be self-absorbed, merely consuming groceries and surviving another week, or another year. God created us to glorify Him.

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Balancing Nutrition with Priorities -Part 2

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Welcome back for Part 2 of our discussion on balancing nutrition and priorities. Read Part 1 here.

This past week I was preparing burritos for dinner. I was frustrated and fretting about the need to prepare my own homemade tortillas. I wanted to…but energy was seriously lacking. So I went to the store. I bought white tortillas. And you know what? I felt free! I felt truly free to eat and enjoy this food without fear. Our burritos were delicious filled with home cooked beans, meat, cheese, guacamole, fresh salsa and sour cream! And we all loved it!

There is freedom in Christ, my friends (Galatians 5:1). There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and that includes your food choices (Romans 8:1-2). Fear is slavery. God designed food for our enjoyment. He gave Peter permission to kill and eat. God had made all these food items clean through the blood of Christ (Acts 10:13-15).

This means that when done in a spirit of thanksgiving, we can enjoy the glorious flavors of God’s creation with joy. We love going out to eat and rejoicing in the flavors of Thai and Mexican food. This is part of delighting in the beauty and diversity of God’s creation.

“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31).

Is God being glorified through your fear and striving? Than food and health is distracting us from this higher calling.

So I often buy canned tomato soup, boxed cereal, small yogurts, and minimal packaged foods here and there. Why? Because it makes my homemaking a bit more simple, makes my husband happy, increasing the joy in our marriage, and I do have more time to enjoy my kiddos. I no longer fret about it. It works for me in this season. My husband and my children are happy. There is peace. I want to keep my eyes on the Kingdom. Investing in the souls of my children, serving and loving on my husband (even if that means white hamburger buns and small yogurts for work that he loves!), and giving first to the Kingdom.

I wanted to include this helpful list of guiding questions that Natalie at Guarded for the Gospel shared. These are invaluable. They should be asked consistently when we feel our heart striving, feeling anxious, or overwhelmed.

These practical guidelines will help guard against health/nutrition becoming wrongly prioritized, over and above loving God, family and friends:

1. How does my husband feel about our family’s health and our current diet? What is his opinion about investing extra time/money in this area?

Listen, and really value his thoughts! Unity is so key.

2. What is our current budget? Am I submitting to it?

Do NOT overspend for the sake of healthy food and in doing so, dishonor your husband! You may have nourished his body by putting a super-nutritious meal on the table, but you might be kinda like a Big Mac to the financial “arteries” of your marriage. (You are clogging it up, slowing it down, and working against him if you are overspending your budget!)

3. Does my hubby have food preferences? Am I being thoughtful toward them?

If your budget + your health agenda = lots of beans…

but your husband does not like beans, then CHUCK the beans!

If he likes meat, figure out how to work meat in your meals! This may be A LOT OF WORK. But if he knows you want to make meals that are enjoyable for him and healthy, he will be more on board with you.

You won’t be gaining any support if you disregard his preferences for a meat-and-potatoes dinner, and serve him tofu served on mixed greens, with flaxseed dressing and pine nuts.

A true story from our house: My husband recently told me, “Spinach is a leaf. It does not belong in my drink. Put it in my salad!”

Yup. Green smoothies are a cool idea to me. Next time I’ll make them during the day! :)

4. Do my eating habits prevent me from spending time with other people, when I will be forced to eat foods that fall outside of my own ideas of health?

Jesus hung out with lepers. He did not think his own health so important as to avoid contact with people who could possibly jeopardize it.

5. Does my family’s spiritual/emotional health ALWAYS come first?

Baking bread and making homemade butter is NO excuse for not teaching scripture to your children, praying with them, playing on the floor with them, or having time to relax and talk/listen to your husband.

6. Am I keeping LOVE as my first priority? Am I always thinking through how to best order my time according to LOVE, not merely our diet?

These are truly convicting and yet so freeing at the same time. I pray the Lord would bless and keep you and allow you to keep this balance through His grace. Pursue health and wholeness first and foremost through Jesus Christ! I encourage you to make healthy food and lifestyle choices, use whole grains, natural sweeteners, and food as close to the original source as possible, but don’t become enslaved to it.

Try not to go to the opposite extreme of abandoning all and making yourself sick, but rather do not worry about non-organic produce, parabens in your body products, or feeling guilty if you didn’t soak your grains, or fretting that every stomach ache or dry skin issue must be linked to a food allergy. Do your best with the resources God has entrusted to you, guard your heart against fear, and enjoy the freedom you have in Christ!

I will end with this sweet quote by Sheri from the comments on Part 1. She put it so well with this illustration:

I just heard Elisa Morgan from MOPS international speak and her key phrase was, “She did what she could,” from the story of Mary anointing Jesus with perfume. To sum up her talk, God only expects us to do what we are capable of doing, not what someone else can do, or doing or giving to the point of wearing yourself to the ground making you useless. Its a good thing to remember in all aspects of life.

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Balancing Nutrition And Priorities – Part 1

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With the bombardment of choices for us mothers to make in regard to our health and nutrition at the table and in our lifestyle, it is becoming more and more difficult to keep a proper balance between our pursuit of nutrition for the health and wholeness of our family and the reality of what we can truly manage. I have been noticing an increased obsession with health and food in my generation that has been concerning, especially among young mothers. We don’t realize that something is being sacrificed at the idol of health.

As I have been part of this real food movement over the last few years, I have come from truly enjoying learning new things about our health and food choices and eager to serve and provide the best for our family, to becoming obsessed with worry (what are these ingredients and what can they do to our body?) and frustration over our food budget and what the long-term impact of our decisions could result in. Now I’ve come to a place of peace. I have freedom because I am letting go of control. After my original writing of Can Natural Living Become an Idol? several months ago, and the positive response received from others going through similar struggles, I wanted to add further help by giving some principles from which we can achieve peace and balance in the wave of food and health decisions.

It can be so frustrating researching every food product and finding such a mix of opinions and research going both ways. Should you soak or not? What products are really safe? With the expansion of the internet, there is just no end to resources saying the pros and cons of every food and body product item in your home.

Reality came home for me when a close family friend died of cancer this past summer. She had been the leading example in my life of the ultimate Nourishing Traditions follower. My eyes were opened. Health will not save you. It truly cannot preserve one day of your life.

We need to be careful that we don’t elevate health so high that we expect it to keep us from the kind of health problems our parents’ generation suffered because it will not save us. Fear is a deadly enemy. It is consuming. It entangles. It takes our focus away from the importance of demonstrating Christ’s love to a hurting world.

As mothers, we are extremely susceptible to comparing ourselves with others standard of health and nutrition. To become overwhelmed because we cannot afford all organic products. To stress because we have so much to learn. Health and nutrition cannot become our “functional Savior.”

Dear sisters, let’s step back again. Let’s review our priorities. What does it come down too? The importance of love. Loving the Lord with all our hearts and loving our neighbors as ourselves. I love how Natalie at Guarded by the Gospel shares it here,

So what should my be priorities be as I shop and cook and eat?

First, and ultimately, our pleasure is in God, in Jesus Christ. Psalm 16:2 says, “I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.’” Jesus said God’s greatest commandment was to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.” (Matt. 22:39) God deserves his place. Anything that supplants our total and ultimate love toward him is…an idol.

How do I know when I’ve made an idol out of something?

My whole life revolves around that one thing.

I plan around it.

I obsess about it.

I freak out if it’s taken away from me.

I think about it all the time.

My relationships revolve around it.

I think it makes me ok, on track.

And…(Here comes the hard part) …When it causes me to break the second greatest commandment, “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Funny how idolizing something (breaking that first commandment) makes you break the second too!

I have made an idol out of nutrition (or whatever!) when I continually elevate it as a priority above loving the people around me the way I would like to be loved.

Let me say that serving healthy wholesome food for your family is important. We want to be healthy and fit for the Lord’s use. We are responsible as do the best that we can. It is an act of love, but when you are spending so much time in your kitchen, planning, shopping, preparing, that you miss those moments of loving on your little ones, then we have missed the boat. When people start saying that parent’s who feed junk food to their children don’t really love them, we are going too far. What’s more significant in the kingdom? The physical or spiritual food we serve?

When our family dinner times are lacking peace because we are constantly trying to get our little ones to eat this healthy food which they may not enjoy, then something needs to change. I didn’t like my veggies as a child, but did I suffer much? No, I love them now and the striving and fighting isn’t worth it.

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things (food, shelter, the essentials) will be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33).

Natalie continues, 

Always cooking and eating healthy food will not make you truly healthy. Having a heart full of life-giving, generous, lay-down-your-life love will.

“Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.” (Mark 7:18-20)

True health and wholeness can only be experienced through Jesus Christ.

Check out part 2 here

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Stop Serving Your Family & Serve the One

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Post written by monthly contributor, Kat.

I’ll bet you never thought you’d read that post title on this blog…

Let me explain.

We come to expect a certain response from our husband and children when we do things to serve them. A thank you, a smile, 12 dozen roses, foot-washing.

You know. Standard stuff.

Our families, however, aren’t always aware of the protocol. They don’t always respond the way we want them too. And we become disappointed. Disillusioned.

And we pout. Sometimes we give up and declare, “Well, if they’re not going to appreciate me, I’m just not going to go to all that effort.”

But when do those exact same acts with a heart to serve Jesus, we can only be disappointed if we don’t take time to listen to his ever flowing words of affirmation and love. He says, “Thank you for showing love to my precious ones.” “Thank you.”

Our families are blessed and served and we are encouraged.

We can choose to serve the fallen or the infallible. Only one will never disappoint.

When we serve Christ and our security is set in Him, we won’t demand it from our families who are incapable of giving it.
And we are free to wholeheartedly serve because we require nothing in return.

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Cranberry Orange Coconut Cookies

Want to prepare some more healthy treats for the holidays or your upcoming cookie exchange? Or how about preparing some tasty treats for your neighbors this Christmas?

Today we are joining Domestic by Design in sharing a few favorite holiday treats that have been adapted to make them more healthy and nutritious! Check out the fun Real Food Cookie Exchange Carnival and share your favorite recipes! Since cookies are a special treat at our house, we mainly stick with unbleached white flour (or half and half with sprouted wheat), as it gives more tasty, fluffy results. But you can certainly use whole wheat flour if desired. Other than that, I like to use coconut oil and natural sweeteners to give them a more nutritious nature. Here is one of our new favorites!

These cranberry cookies are fabulous! They are soft, rich and flavorful with a splash of red color to make them a perfect holiday treat.

Cranberry Orange Coconut Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter or coconut oil, softened (half butter & half coconut oil works best!)
  • 1 1/2 cups rapadura/sucanat (you can certainly cut back to about 1 cup if using orange juice concentrate or dried cranberries)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice or orange juice concentrate
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour or whole wheat flour (increase baking soda to 1.5 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chopped cranberries, fresh or dried (fresh is preferred)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened dried coconut flakes

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter/coconut oil, sweetener, orange peel, orange juice, and vanilla until smooth and light.

2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to butter mixture, stir to mix, then beat on low speed until dough comes together, about 1-2 minutes. You may have to add 1 more Tablespoon water or orange juice to get it to come together. Mix in cranberries and coconut flakes.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on an greased baking sheets.

4. Bake in a 350° degrees until cookie edges just begin to brown, 12-15 minutes (shorter baking time will yield a chewier cookie; longer baking time will yield a crispier cookie). If baking two sheets at once in one oven, switch their positions halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then use a wide spatula to transfer to racks to cool completely.

Yield: 3-4 dozen.

Some of our other favorite holiday treats, that would work beautifully on a cookie platter for your neighbors:

Healthy Homemade Fudge
Healthy Peanut Brittle

Gingersnap Cookies

Happy holiday baking!

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Loving Our Children With the Written Word

There I sat amidst a pile of cards that I had received over the years from my parents, siblings, and close friends. I was packing up my closet and came upon this treasured envelope of keep sakes. I had kept these cards for a reason. There were welcome home cards from my siblings, valentine’s cards from my brothers, encouragement cards from my Aunt and best friend and now sister-in-law. The earliest was from my 13th birthday. Each year my mom and dad had wrote me a birthday letter. This was not just any ordinary card. It expressed in detailed form all that they loved and admired about me and my growth in godliness. I began reading through each one. Tears started rolling down my eyes.

“I’m so proud of you.”
“I love to see how you are growing in virtue.”
“Thank you for being so reliable. We count on you. You are a huge help to our family.”

And on and on..

Such sweet encouragement that I am so loved. Reading them on this day, over 12 years since their signed date, and they still impact me. They still challenge me onwards in the upward call of following Christ Jesus.

Dear friends, never underestimate the power of love and expressing it through written form. Verbal is valuable. But written form is a keepsake.

I sat there balling and thanking the Lord for His love for me. With so many years passed, and yet my heart is lifted up. Fresh love and overwhelming thankfulness fill my heart. God has truly been good to me.

My little girl comes up to me and tries to comfort mommy with her sweet words, “It’s okay, Mommy.” And she gently rubs my arm and face. I look her in the eyes and realize with fresh inspiration how much I love this sweet gift of life. I grab her in my arms and hold her close. We exchange numerous kisses. “I love you, sweetie. Mommy’s okay. She’s just so happy. She’s so happy to have such a special girl.”

Take a moment and write a note. Write a gift of grace to another. You never know the long term impact your encouraging words can have. Write to your children. Even if they are too young to read. Journal each year on their birthday all that you admire, appreciate, and treasured memories from the previous year. These will be such a gift to your children when they are grown and gone.

These are treasured moments. Every moment is a gift. Live in light of it!

“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 13:3

How ca you practically seek to love and encourage those around you today?

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