Joy of the Lord

“To the highest heights of the universe, glory to God!
    And on earth, peace among all people who bring pleasure to God!” Luke 2:14

Jesus talks about live abundantly for the believer. However, this does not mean life will be without trials it is the contrary. This promise does not mean that the believer lives in a bubble of good things, worldly wealth, things always go smoothly, or laughter. Countless trails challenge the believer, at times these trails plague the believer with no break.

The joy of the Lord is the anchor of the believer’s soul. It is intertwined with thanksgiving, hope, and peace. This joy more than an emotion and it is unwavering. Though the work of the Holy Spirit and a willing heart on our part we are able to have a perspective from Christ that allows us to rejoice in His name no matter what. We are able to be confident that everything will bring glory to His mighty name. Pausing throughout the day to praise His name and to give Him thanks enables us to live out the joy of the Lord. Living out the joy of the Lord in the midst of tragedy takes courage and it must be intentional.

How can you live out the joy of the Lord this Christmas season?

Lord Jesus,

You are awe-inspiring. Words cannot accurately describe Your infinite beauty. The earth is filled with Your glory and righteousness. One day everyone and everything will bow at the sound of Your great name.

Almighty.. My intercessor. You poured out forgiveness despite my unworthiness. Daily, You extend mercy and grace. I can never thank You enough for the gifts You have freely given me. I worship You with all I am. Lifting Your name on high.

I love to learn more about You each day. As I understand You more I grow closer to You and my love for You increases. Fan the flame of my desire for You so that it would increase. As I come to know You more enable me to teach others about Your character. Allow Your kingdom to grow. I desire to serve You, Master.

Allow me to live out the joy that You have given me. Let me experience abundant life even when I am in the midst of trials. Cultivate a heart of thanksgiving in me. Bless me with a perspective that comes from You. Let me remain anchored in You hope and daily experience Your peace.

Amen

 

 

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Christmas Cookies

Baking is an enjoyable part of the Holiday season. I have been extremely spoiled, every season there is something homemade my mom makes for us from applesauce to pies to cookies to candy. I always enjoyed assisting her in baking, especially during the Christmas season. It has been difficult for me to bake on my own because of POTS and a lack of energy. I am going to share some cookie recipes with you. Some are spoonie friendly, others just taste good and are worth sharing.

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Low Spoon Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 cup of peanut butter

1 egg

1 cup of white sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350

Combine ingredients. Bake for about eight minutes

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Philly Cream Cheese Cookies

I simply love these cookies. They are different than the norm but festive and delicious.

Ingredients:

1 (8 ounce) package of Philadelphia cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup of softened butter

1 cup of powdered sugar

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon mint extract

Combine ingredients. Allow dough to chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325. Bake 10-12 minutes. Makes about three dozen cookies.

Shortbread:

More of a classic type cookie. I love simple cookie recipes. They can allow those with chronic illness who are sensitive to take part in the cookies. I am not gluten-free but have a lot of abdominal issues and this cookie always sits well.

Preheat oven: 350

1 cup of butter

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup of cornstarch

Being on your feet for too long is draining. I recommend sitting while making cookies. Using an electric mixer can help conserve energy as well. Take breaks in between, if needed. Rember there is nothing wrong with getting help baking or having someone bake for you 🙂

My family and I love this Gingerbread Cookie Recipe by Trisha Yearwood.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 to 5 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring
  • Nonstick cooking spray, for the baking sheets and rolling pin

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the cookies: In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the shortening and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the molasses, vinegar, and egg and beat on high speed to blend thoroughly.

Sift together the ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, salt and 4 cups of the flour in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed shortening and sugar and mix to make a firm, manageable dough, adding more flour if needed. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.

Then the super fun part! Cut cookies into tons of fun Christmas shapes using cookie cutters. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes.

What are your spoonie baking tips? What is your favorite Christmas Cookie recipe?

Hope

The pain intensifies as the minute’s drag by. There is an indescribable ache and stabbing pain nearly with each breath.  A sickening feeling overwhelms my body along with waves of nausea from the pain. As quick as possible I unsteadily get up as the urgency increases to get to the bathroom and on my way, I partly dislocate a knee.  Weakness consumes my body from lack of nutrition and hydration. Anxiety plagues the mind as I come up with theories of what is occurring.

Moments like these it is impossible to read or to focus for more than five seconds to pray. Moments like these are when I need hope instinctively. “Lament is a cry of belief in a good God, a God who has His ear to our hearts, a God who transfigures the ugly into beauty.” He promises no matter how dark, painful, and hopeless things feel that joy comes in the morning.

There are times when all looks hopeless to others that Christ fills me with His hope beyond explanation. On the contrary, I am sad to admit, there are too many times that my heart aches with sorrow and hopeless tears spill out.

There have been times friends feel so hopeless they have walked out of my life never to return. Countless times, doctors tell me things are hopeless that they are stumped. Thankfully, my Savior has never felt that my health is hopeless.

What are the things which leave you feeling hopeless?

Look! The days are coming when I will fulfill the promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. In those days, when the time is right, I will cause a righteous Branch to sprout from the old stump of David’s linea.png

 

Hopelessness seems to fill this fallen world. Maintaining the hope that Christ calls us to have can seem like an impossible task. Hope is not a feeling. It is so much more to the believer. It is an anchor to our soul that connects us to Christ.

Advent is a time to rekindle our hope. The story of the birth of Jesus bursts with hope.  Jesus is the source of hope and furthermore our ultimate example of remaining hopeful.  The Lord is renewing our hope today through the first Sunday of Advent.

 

Look! The days are coming when I will fulfill the promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. In those days, when the time is right, I will cause a righteous Branch to sprout from the old stump of David’s linea (1).png

Lord,

I am amazed at the way the whole Bible is connected to the birth of Jesus. I am amazed at the way that you are always at work mighty ways. Thank you for providing hope when all seems lost. Thank You for the joy You provide. Thank You for who You are. Thank You for the grace You provide.

I praise You for the hope found in Your Son, Jesus, Christ. Thank you for the renewed hope of Advent. Allow me to read the Advent story with an open heart and new eyes. I surrender this Christmas season to You knowing that You will do a new awe-inspiring work in me. Fill me up with You, Lord Jesus. Allow me to be a blessing to others.

Amen

Welcome December

I adore the Christmas season, it is absolutely magical. Beauty overflows all around from stunning lights to warm smiles to traditions and so much more. Christmas carols sweetly fill the air. The Christmas season brings joy as it reassures us gently that things will be okay. It helps us connect with our inner child reminding us of the wonderful Christmas memories. At the same time, it encourages us to move forward filling us with a hope like no other. It unites us with those we hold dear in our hearts. I cherish every aspect of Christmas.

Unfortunately chronic illness and the stressful demands that go with it does not take a holiday. The doctors appointments, treatment, and testing still must be done. Chronic illness tends to complicate things and get in the way of our joy during this season. It is easy to lose focus of the beauty in this season when we are consumed with emotion and pain. When the world seems to be caving in on us and everything seems to be falling apart. Chronic illness isolates us. We feel the effects more so this time of year. Finding a balance between doing things and resting becomes more difficult. For some, this season is depressing, reminding them of all they cannot do.

I hope you are able to take the time to rest and reflect this holiday season. Take to reflect about all the ways you have grown as an individual, all you have accomplished, all the blessings in your life, and everything you have overcome the past few months. You, my friend, have come so far. I am proud of you. You deserve to take time for yourself this busy season. You are an inspiration. Your story is breathtaking and laced with beauty along with encouragement it will change lives. I pray your strength is renewed. The Lord will bless you greatly this season, be open to all he has to offer for you.

I pray you would have a flare free Christmas season. I hope that despite your pain you are able to enjoy this season of blessing. Cherish every moment with those you hold dear to your heart. Hold onto the Christmas spirit. I pray that this season would bless you with little to no pain, plenty of spoons, memories, joy, and love. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

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Live Loved: Advent

 This is our fourth week of advent, which focuses on God’s love for us. In addition, our love for Christ and for others. God desires nothing more than your love.  He cherishes who you are today with all your imperfections. “The Eternal your God is standing right here among you, and He is the champion who will rescue you. He will joyfully celebrate over you; He will rest in His love for you; He will joyfully sing because of you like a new husband.” Zephaniah 3:17. God invites you in to have a deep personal relationship with Him. To live loved every day from here on out. God’s love for you surpasses human understanding it is that complex and beautiful.

The Christmas story is laced with love. Christmas points us to the cross where Jesus displayed His amazing love for us. Jesus lived loved in His ministry. God’s love is evident through Scriptures, creation, and our personal lives. “ This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins” 1 John 4:10.

An element of living loved, is giving love. Christ enables us to love others. You can give love from where you are today. You don’t need to be wealthy or healthy. You only need a willing heart to serve the Lord and to give love to others. He will surely direct your steps. He will deeply bless your words. A hug, words of encouragement, or praying with someone goes a long way.

Additionally, living loved is praise God with a thankful heart for the simple blessings in your life this advent. Worship Him as the shepherds did in the Christmas story with a sincere heart. Mary also praises the Lord for His favor, “My soul lifts up the Lord! My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator! For the Mighty One has done great things for me; holy is God’s name!” Luke: 1:46, 47, and 49.

As Christmas draws near find someone to give love to; someone to encourage. Practice living loved this week. You are a child of the one true King. Reflect on His amazing love, which is evident in your life. Remember times this year that you felt His love and praise His holy name. Consider how you can live loved this advent season as well as in the new year.

God,

We praise you for the gift of Your Son consumed with Your love. For His example of love. Thank you for loving us. Allow us to live loved no matter what events play out in our daily lives. Enable us to give love to others. Let us be a blessing to them. May our hearts forever sing Your praises. Bless these days leading up to Christmas. We love you, Lord.

Amen

Christmas Photo Fun

Pictures are so much fun. They are worth a thousand words and a dozen smiles. I wanted to share some of my Christmas Season pictures with you!

Kitty Pictures First! Sadie Rose, Grace, and Fluffy. They adore Christmas.

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Before the Tree was decorated. Smells lovely.

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Christmas Cards!

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Holiday Season Encouragement

It should be the most wonderful time of year filled with cheer. Carefree. Merry and bright everything just right. Nine times out of ten that is not the reality. We put so much pressure on ourselves. Anxiety or depression (sometimes both) find their way into the holiday mix. The season becomes dreaded instead of cherished. It is tempting to push too much- to overcommit and over do it.

Try to not become consumed with all the things you want to get done. Focus on being in the moment.  Most importantly breathe. Additionally, focus on lowering stress levels. Don’t feel guilty asking for help or simply saying no. Take your time with the things you can do. Enjoy each moment. Don’t rush. You don’t need the extra stress.

Little victories and accomplishments are just as important as the big ones so remember to take note of them. Do not beat yourself up if things don’t seem to be just right or if you can’t do something you planned. You, my friend, are doing the absolute best that you can. Each day you put so much effort into various activities. You are a warrior who fights with grace. You have victory over this season and in every aspect of life. I am of you. You should be proud of all you do too.

Take a few moments each day to recharge. To simply breathe. Let’s kick depression and anxiety to the side (the best we can) and reclaim our holiday season with a joyful and thankful heart. I hope each day from here until Christmas is consumed with joy, laughter, love, and encouragement. I hope you are able to cherish the time with those you love. Sending many Christmas spoons and hugs. Though it might seem lonely, you are not truly alone, daily you are in my thoughts and prayers. My hope is that this post encourages you just a little bit.