Read A Book: “Devotions for the Hungry Heart” by Shellie Tomlinson

Did you get a devotional for Christmas?  If you are like me, you read more than just one per day.  I have one for when I have my coffee, one in the afternoon, and another at night.  DesignOften I will be given other to add to my library, like this one.  “Devotions for the Hungry Heart” is the first book that I have read by author Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, but I am certain it will not be my last. I fell in love with this 20 week devotional immediately and devoured it within a few days. (I know! I couldn’t help myself.) This sweet 272 page hardcover book is published by Shiloh Press. The padded cover is inviting and feels nice to the touch. There are glossy full color pictures which adorn the center which are beautiful and have yummy recipes. I love recipes in books.

In the introduction, the author says, “Whether you have a healthy craving for more Jesus, or the barely discernible taste for a relationship with Him that seems beyond your reach, the glorious truth is that God put that hunger in your heart in the first place, and He is more willing to fan that flame than you or I could ever be.” How is that for encouragement? Do you see why I fell in love so quickly? She had me at “craving for more Jesus.” The older I get the more my soul craves to be closer, near to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This book gave me daily servings of that.

Author Shellie has a very nice style of writing. Her devotions are only one to two pages long, but she loads them with powerful words. The way she writes is smooth and her message just flows easily from the pages into my heart and mind. Using topics that are relatable to us she inspires us in her open and honest way. Reading it is like chatting with a friend, prayer partner, Designor Sister in Christ over a cup of coffee.  One that just gets you. I found the author to be witty, humorous, God glorifying, encouraging, approachable and transparent. She taught me what being hungry for Jesus meant. Dividing that up into six topics: Sharing, Needing, Celebrating, Praying, Surrendering and Being Intentional, the author explained in her sweet Southern style. I have continued pondering them long after finishing her book. Have you ever thought what an example of being hungry for more Jesus liked like? Think about it a minute. Better yet, just get this book.

One of the great things about this devotional is that it isn’t dated. Readers do not need to worry they are missing out by not starting it on a certain date. It has daily devotions, Monday through Saturday, that could be started at anytime. There is an illustration along with the scripture and message. A ribbon bookmark is sewn into the book so that your place will be kept. The recipes in the center are from the author’s cookbook, “Hungry Is a Mighty Fine Sauce.” After the devotions, there is a Scripture reference page. Very helpful for future use or when counseling a friend.

This book is definitely a keeper and one to give away. It gives encouragement to all Christians whether you are a new seeker or older seasoned one. Everyone will glean something from this beautiful, delightful food for the soul book. The only problem you will encounter is where to keep it – on the breakfast table or nightstand! Well, that and limiting yourself to one devotion per day. I will be buying many for gifts. A definite 5 star recommendation from this hungry for Jesus gal.

Design

 

A Word for the New Year

Happy 2018!  The new year is here and brings with it possibilities for all types of good things.  Have you done anything to make a change from last year or help this year become better than 2017?  I would like to invite you to do something my best friend taught me to do.  When you are in your quiet place talking to Jesus, ask Him to give you a word for the new year. DesignThat’s right, your very own word that offers encouragement or inspiration for the year. Maybe He will give you more than just one.  Whatever it is you need, He will give.

For 2017 my word was restoration. My husband had been very ill and had an operation. Abba gave me “restoration” as encouragement that things will be better. Throughout the illness a lot has changed and been lost, so restoration gave me hope that what had been taken away would be replenished through God’s grace and mercy.  It would not only be replaced but restored by God which means a full, overflowing measure.  My friend received the word “joy” to remind her of the happiness that abounds all around her.

My word for the year 2018 is “family” and I am eager to learn why.  Could it mean our family is increasing?  The family might not be my immediate family at all but the Family of God.  Maybe I will help lead others into His family.  Perhaps relationships within our family will change.  I have no idea why I received this word, but I am praying about it and the reason.  God will reveal it to me in His perfect time.

IMG_0102

Are you wondering how to receive your word? First you need to ask. Pray to our loving Savior Jesus and ask Him to provide you with a word.  After that be aware.  Watch and listen.  You will see or hear your word.  It might standout in everything you read.  For example, if your word is “hope” you may read “hope” in many scriptures or even a billboard.  Friends might tell you about a book or song they found and love on that subject.  Artwork at a store may have that word in it. A waitress might have a tattoo that says it or even be named Hope. Your word will surround you. Perhaps you will hear your word. In the silence as you chat with Jesus, listen for His voice. It might come as a soft whisper faintly coming to your mind. When you ask and receive, do not worry that you might miss it. If something is meant for you, you will get it.  There are no coincidences, just God at work.

Okay, you have asked and received your word, now what. Treasure that word and watch for the lessons it has to teach you.  Pray about your word. It should bring comfort, encouragement, and hope to you. You might use it to minister or testify to others. This one little word could change your year and your Walk with God making them both better in more ways than you could ever imagine. Happy 2018.  May you find your word, start a new tradition, and have a blessed year.

IMG_0104

Writing Our 2018 Story

We have closed the last page of our life story for 2017.  I hope it was a best seller in your eyes.  A new year brings a new beginning or book.  It comes in with a blank page or clean slate.  Are you hoping the year that begins today is better than the one that just finished? IMG_0181
A new year carries endless possibilities with it. I read posts on Facebook stating that New Year’s Day was the beginning of a blank 365 page book for each one of us, and that we should write a good one. Some claimed 2017 to be the worst year on record for them. Others wrote about the things they wanted to improve upon or change starting today.

Let me challenge you. Get a brand new journal and write down an outline for your 2018 story. I know it hasn’t happened yet, but think about what you would like to happen. For me reconnecting with some old, dear friends is very important and long overdue. My Christian novel remains half written so 2018 is the perfect year to complete it.  Cookbook #2 is a little closer to being finished but needs work.  Any year past, present, and future is the time to deepen my relationship and walk with Jesus. Of course I need and want to get healthier, too. In August 2017 I began a new venture selling a Pampered Chef. It is my hope to improve on that this year. How about those goals? Pages and chapters for me to live and write.

Will you partner with me? We could try it together and encourage each other. Over our blank pages we need to speak and pray positivity.  Begin by asking God’s will to be done.  Thank Him for guiding and directing.  No more “I can’t lose weight, I am stressed and too busy, or it is never gonna happen.” Replace those with “absolutely I will lose weight, there is time, and yes, it will happen!”

Get your inspiration from your Life’s Rule Book or Holy Bible and your Heavenly Father.Design Scripture will give you the help, peace, and strength you need. Remember the verse in Matthew that says “With God all things are possible?” How about in Philippians where it tells us “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  Proverbs gives great counsel “Trust in the Lord with all your heart….”  We need to commit Bible verses to memory and claim the promises they give.

Keep me updated on your happy story. Working together we can make a positive difference in 2018. We will start with each other and see what trickles down from there.  I think it is time to turn a “no” into a “go”!  It is exciting to realize that we have the pen and blank paper for our 2018 story, not to mention the best Editor ever.  I am ready to start my new story.  Are you?

Design.png

God Has 2018 and You

Goodbye, 2017 and hello, 2018!  Here we are again. Another year is winding down to a close. Don’t worry. There is a brand new one just waiting to take 2017’s place. Whether this has been your best, worst, or just an average year, it is time to take inventory and plan for the next one. IMG_0113 Do you have expectations for 2018 or yourself? A new year is wonderful. It’s like getting a blank piece of paper to begin a new chapter in your story.  Exciting, isn’t it?!

Do you have a tradition for New Year’s Eve or Day? Many people start the year with a resolution or two.  Not a bad idea, but how many resolutions make it all year?  Grand plans and hopes turn to ashes when someone offers a piece of homemade fudge or favorite cookie. Even a 75% off sale and crash plans for saving more money. My hubby made a resolution a decade or more ago that he continues to keep……”to stop making New Year’s resolutions.” Perhaps I should try that one. My resolutions don’t seem to make it very long.

Let me offer another thing to try along with your resolution.  One tradition that I love to do is to think about my prayer list. DesignOn it is usually one item that seems greater than any of the others. If you have a prayer list you know the one I mean. It is the one you give over to Jesus to handle and take to the Father. Then later that day you start fretting over it again and try to tell Him how to work it out. (How silly!)  You pick it back up and cannot seem to give it away.  The problem is so big and seems unsolvable. Oh, but I have great news for you. God is bigger and more powerful than anything. Period.  He is also in the business of miracles.

This is all I do.  I will take a piece of paper and jot down that problem which has now become a mountain. When I pray about it now, I completely surrender it to Jesus, throw it in the fireplace and watch it burn. DesignAs it is eaten up by flames and disintegrated, I give thanks that the problem is out of my hands and into His. I have totally surrendered it.  He is doing what needs done according to His perfect will.  Before my prayer ends the paper has turned to ashes, tears stream down my cheeks, and my worry has vanished. I am at peace.

Try it with one of your problems that has grabbed onto you and won’t let go. God said not to worry. We can do that only by praying and turning things over to Him. He is good and He is faithful. God won’t let us down. Go into 2018 with one less issue hanging over your head, and with you holding on to Jesus’s hand.  Give it to Him.  Trust Him.  He has this, He has 2018, and He has you!

Design

What is Your Christmas Tradition?

My Grandmother’s family had a tradition of playing the Christmas Gift game. Does your family do this? I would love to hear your story of it.  Only Grandmother did it and the older I get the more I wish we had kept the tradition alive in our family.  Growing up I listened in wonderment as my proper Grandmother turned back into a fun loving girl again. In the game of Christmas Gift, the first person to say “Christmas Gift” earned the first gift, an extra gift, for that day.  Grandmother would answer her phone “Christmas Gift” instead of the normal “Merry Christmas” as the majority of people do. DesignShe loved that game.  It reminded her of her childhood and holidays at home. Research on this game revealed that it could be done for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It started as a custom that was broadly practiced by families from the southern parts of the United States. My Grandmother (paternal) grew up near Richmond, Kentucky and was definitely a fine Southern lady.

My daughter-in-law has German heritage and continues a German Christmas tradition. On their Christmas each year is a hidden glass pickle ornament. The lucky person to find the ornament is supposed to receive a finder’s gift and good fortune for the next year. It is said that these ornaments were first sold in the United States in 1880.IMG_0068

I don’t remember any other specific Christmas traditions. Sure we decorate, make cookies and candy, and visit family. Nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary. We used to have a progressive dinner for my mother and her siblings.  That could be a blog in itself. Now things are just toned down.

Toned down describes Jesus’ birth. Nothing elaborate and fancy. Born in a stable with shepherds as messengers to spread the news. Jesus had humble beginnings and taught humility. I looked up the meaning of humble: having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance, not haughty, arrogant, assertive, or proud. Wow – if anyone had a reason to feel important or know He was important, it was Jesus, but He acted like a servant to all. Jesus was not proud, conceited, or arrogant. He did not push people around or assert Himself. Jesus resonated love, purity, goodness, and patience. He taught us what things really mattered. Lessons in riches showed us that our treasures are not here on Earth in things but in Heaven with Him and the Father. His family is our family. We should love and care for them as He wants us.

DesignThis year just might be the perfect time to start a new Christmas tradition. One that is pleasing to and lead by Jesus. Pray about it, open your heart and mind.  Maybe some type of donation or charity would be  for your family.  Perhaps buying some livestock, chickens or seed for someone makes your heart sing.   If you decide on one, I would love to hear about it. “Peace on Earth and goodwill to men.”IMG_0072

What do you think of when someone says Christmas?

Christmas.  One word but very powerful.  What do you think about when someone says Christmas? Quick….what was your first thought?   Family? Food? Cookie making? Decorations? Santa? Gifts? The Nativity?Baby Jesus?  There are so many things associated with Christmas. Right?! It takes days to prepare for it. It is the same date every year, December 25th, but some years it seems to come quicker than others for me. This year is one of them, but it is coming whether I am ready or not.

One thing that keeps me sane and grounded instead of frenzied is to remember it is Advent. Do you participate in Advent? Advent Season is in the end stages now so I have had twenty days to get my priorities in order. Christians start December 1st preparing their hearts and minds for the true meaning of Christmas. Even if you did not begin December 1st, it is never too late to jump in. Reflecting on God is what I do first. What better place to start than with God for anything? Think about the powerful Maker of everything deeming we needed help here on Earth so He came down as a baby. Living life among us, Jesus changed our lives forever. Literally, He changed our eternity.IMG_0064

Our Father, Creator, God Almighty came to Earth not as a royal prince, waited on hand and foot. Oh no! He came to an everyday couple, lowly not affluent. Everything did not go what we think of as perfect, but it went according to God’s plan.  The couple was out of town with no place to stay when Mary’s labor began, and they were allowed to take shelter in a stable or cave along with animals.  Mary had her baby away from home, friends, and midwives to give birth amidst animals.  That was God’s plan. His plan also included His Son being beaten and crucified later in life. Jesus made a bridge between God and man. We are now able to go straight to our Heavenly Father and ask for forgiveness for our sins. Our debts have been paid by the Lamb of God. No more sacrifices are necessary. Jesus opened Heaven’s doors for us.  He set us free and it cost us nothing. We just need to receive His gift, believe He is God’s Son, and repent of our sins.

Take a few minutes out of the hectic, Christmas rush today. Stop wrapping presents and baking cookies. Give shopping a break. Grab a cup of hot tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. Find a quiet place to sit where you won’t be disturbed.  Spend some quiet time with your Creator. The One that cared enough about you that He sent His Son to Earth to give you salvation is waiting to hear from you this Advent. Let Him help you prepare your heart. Don’t stress and worry that things are not getting done. You don’t need to spend hours in prayer.  Let the Holy Spirit guide you.  Even if it is 3 or 5 minutes it will be well worth it.  Spending time with God in prayer will reward you in ways you could never imagine.IMG_0060

Mary’s Baby Bring Joy

Christmas is a time of miracles and for families. As I prepare for it this year my mind continues to gravitate back to that first Christmas. As a mother, grandmother, and aunt it makes me wonder what the women of Mary’s family thought about her and her baby, God’s Son. Did they throw her a shower or babysit Him?  Did they offer advice and help?  Who was expected to attend Mary at the baby’s delivery?

In our family a baby is a big deal.  Phone start buzzing as soon as the couple see the positive on that little stick.  Grandparents-to-be are over the moon excited as are aunts and uncles. IMG_0054 Siblings and cousins eagerly await the new one, also.  Funny, adorable pictures are sent or put on Facebook to let everyone know a new member will be added to the family.  There are showers to flood the family with all kinds of things for the baby.  Several of my friends have had Grammy showers.

There is not much information on the women in her family or Joseph’s. Some data can be found on the men but not women. Women were not mentioned much in biblical times, mostly just men.  Mary was an only child. I remember that from church and readings. It was indicated that she was a devoted daughter and very good.  Greek scrolls list Mary’s parents as Anne or Anna and Eli. They do not name grandparents. Joseph had siblings so Jesus had aunts, uncles, and cousins.  When studying about His family it is very controversial about if He had siblings.  I am not well versed enough to comment or debate this.  You will need to study up on it yourself and then please let me know your thoughts.

Confusing and emotional to think that God’s Son had a literal earthly family. Don’t you wonder what they thought? Mary announced she was untouched and having a baby.  Joseph backed her up. Wait a minute, she was pregnant and they were just betrothed.  Mary claimed she hadn’t been unfaithful nor had Joseph known her.  Did his family urge Joseph to stone or divorce her? Did Mary’s family make fun of her and think her mentally ill or promiscuous?  What would we do if one of our family members announced something miraculous and could only come from God, had happened to them? Would we believe them? Be envious or skeptical? Maybe happy? Excited? Would we want to hear the tale of this blessing and revelation from God Himself? Maybe we would yearn to know every detail of what Abba said and how His voice sounded.  We might believe them.  Perhaps or perhaps not. Humans are curious by nature but hard to convince.

Can you imagine how her parents felt when young teenage Mary left on a donkey in the late stages of pregnancy to go with Joseph to Bethlehem for the census? This mama here would have been climbing the walls if my daughter had done something like that. From that first step of the donkey until the first glimpse of her return, Mary’s mother was probably walking the floor. IMG_0052Mary left pregnant and came back a mother. The journey took a while to make, too, with no way to get news to her family.  Oh my! Mary had her baby without her mother or other family there. Did she return and announce “here is Jesus, our Savior.” Probably not. Mary most likely had to keep that bit of knowledge to herself.  Treasuring that blessing and holding it deep within her.  However, I would think Mary’s family gathered around to see her new bouncing baby boy when she and Joseph returned from Bethlehem. Families are universal and a baby unites them. He brings hope and joy. Everyone smiles around a baby. Happiness abounds when an infant is nearby. Women want to hold him. Children want to see his toes. Men turn into a pile of mush and say sing-songy things in a funny voice. Babies bring families together.

The same happened with Mary’s baby. God came to Earth as an infant, part man and God, as Jesus. He experienced things as we do. The advice and counsel we get is really from an “I’ve been there myself” viewpoint. Jesus understands. He gets it. He was scorned, beaten, harassed, bullied, and crucified. You name it and it was probably done to our Redeemer. True to scripture Jesus fulfilled prophecy proving He is God’s son. He unites all mankind and invites us to join His family, God’s family. He offers peace, hope, and happiness. He offers love and forgiveness.  He offers joy. Joy to the world.IMG_0053

 

Is it Better to Give, Receive or Both?

Have you finished your gift shopping?  Christmas is right around the corner. For me it seems like one day the leaves were just beginning to turn and then poof….it’s time to wrap Christmas presents.  Let’s talk about presents.  What is your view on gift-giving? Are you more of a giver or receiver? Which gives you more satisfaction and joy? Perhaps you like both. I do. IMG_3571 Giving gifts is a privilege, and getting them is a real treat.  I love how it makes me feel to know someone cared enough to spend time on me.  I feel loved.

It gives me great delight to choose and buy the perfect gift for people I love. I have a chance to reflect upon that person, his/her life, and our relationship while I peruse a variety of things. A lot of thought and time goes into each purchase.  Many times prayer does, also. I strive to make the person receiving my gift surprised and happy, but most of all loved and special.  I want them to know that I pay attention to their lives, that they are important.

“I’m not a fan of gift cards…”

That is why I am not a fan of gift cards. Why do people just trade money with each other?   In essence, it isn’t a gift exchange. To me it is basically saying “you aren’t adequate to choose something for me.”  Gift cards are the most impersonal gifts next to slipping money in an envelope.  Harsh words I agree, but it has been heavy on my heart and mind for a long time.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for both money and gift cards.  However, each and every holiday is a bit too much.

Unfortunately for some, gift giving has evolved into a chore and not an act of love. Not me, I thrive in showing my love through gifts and not gift cards. My spirit is crushed when I hear “let’s draw names to cut down on expense”.  Money shouldn’t be a problem in gift giving. There are many gifts that can be made.  It really is the thought that counts.  One year my son made every gift he gave.  That was over twenty years ago and we are still talking about it.  Gifts should come from the heart, wrapped in love.IMG_4287 They should relate to others that we thought about them during this Season of Miracles and Love. They should let others know how important they are to us, as important as a teacher or mailman.  They should build memories, happy ones.

Gifts should not make Christmas stressful. Gifts should make it happier for both giver and receiver. Think about the very first Christmas.  “Joy to the World.”   Jesus was the gift to us. A miracle gift of love. Sent from God to all of us.  He wasn’t sent to make our lives harder or stressful. No, not at all. He was sent as our Savior to set us free! Jesus taught and spread love. He paid our debt and gave us the best gift of all. Eternal life.  Yes, I love to give and receive gifts. His gift just happens to be my favorite one.  How about you?  Have you accepted His gift?

IMG_9967