Why I Need Single Friends In My Life

 

 

Extroverted. Introverted.

Leader. Encourager.

Organizer. Planner.

Teacher. Nursery Worker.

Single. Married.

God has called each of us to fulfill a unique role within the body of Christ and we all have something to offer.

I Corinthians 12:5-6 lays this out for us. “And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.”

We also see in verses 13- 21 that we cannot function well if certain parts of the body are not fulfilling their part/role…or if other parts of the body are too proud to depend on others to help complete them.

If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.”

However, when every member of the body is contributing their due part we find that the whole body can function in a healthy and proper way.

In recent years I have been specifically blessed with a number of single friends whose role within the body of Christ has become invaluable to me. As a mom with three little children I have found myself craving these sweet friendships more than ever before and am often found saying “I need more single friends in my life!” Why is that, you ask?

 

  1. Single people know how to talk about things besides children. When I get together with my mom friends the majority of our conversation will be centered around kids. And naturally so! However, while those conversations are good and beneficial in their own way, there are times I crave conversations that don’t involve my kids. Once in a while it’s nice to know that I DO still have thoughts about things outside of teething, potty training, childhood behaviors, etc.

 

  1. Single people don’t add chaos to the chaos. My husband and I love hosting people in our home and a lot of times this will include families with several children of their own. Those evenings usually consist of more noise, more toys on the floor, and more opportunities to lovingly redirect our children as they learn to share. Deep conversations can be hard to come by when the train of thought is continually interrupted by one or another of the children needing some attention. So, I repeat, single people don’t add chaos to the chaos. Some of my sweetest and most refreshing times lately have been spent with single people, whether we’re chilling on the couch together or pushing my kids in a stroller and chatting as we walk. (And when my friend offers to help load my kids in the van I appreciate her even more!)

 

  1. Single people can stay up past kid’s bedtimes. Wanting to go out for coffee and shopping with someone while my husband stays home with the kids? Feeling a spontaneous game night after the kids are in bed? Ready to watch a chic flick with someone while sipping on a hot drink and snacking on some goodies? My single friends are the answer. While my Mom friends can also help to fulfill this role in my life they have their own kid’s bedtimes to attend to and can’t be as readily available.

 

  1. Single people can bring an outside opinion. Their experience of the world is different than mine and they often have valuable advice to offer.

 

  1. Single people can do activities without finding a babysitter and are often more flexible in regards to time. Hiking, cookie nights, house projects, etc., are much easier to do with my single friends. I can also do some of these things with my mom friends but usually there’s a time limit because “So and so is due for a feeding” or “I better get back in time to make dinner”, etc., whereas my single friends can just join my own family for dinner and then continue to work on the house project with me!

 

  1. Single people can pray for me. Now, this one can be fulfilled just as easily by any one of my friends, single or married, but seriously, what Mom couldn’t use more prayer warriors in her life? I certainly could!

 

  1. Single people can love on my kids. Single friends have brought gifts, delivered a special toy, given a postcard from Europe, etc.. They’ve sat with my kids and given snuggles and love. They’ve played and laughed with my kids. And you know what? My kids are excited when they come over! And personally, I love that my kids can have these special relationships with my friends too.

 

So, all this to say…reach out to the single people in your life. Not for the sake of making small talk. Not because you feel guilty that you haven’t been including them in things. Reach out simply because you know that if you don’t you will be missing out on some truly beautiful friendships. Get to know the single people in your life. Truly get to know them. Find out what they like/dislike. Invite them along on everyday activities. Include them in family traditions. Find out their love language and then love on them in that specific way. You will be abundantly blessed by the love that they can offer back.

And, if you happen to be a single person reading this…look around at the married people in your life and reach out. You might be surprised by how eagerly your friendship would be welcomed.

~ Chrystal

 

Favorite Christmas Recipes

It is once again that time of the year when we get together with family or friends to celebrate Christ’s birth! Here are some of our favorite recipes that put a smile on our face and remind us that, while Christmas is ultimately about celebrating the birth of the Savior, it is also a time to share love and joy with each other around the table.

Cranberry Crescent Rolls
Makes 24 Rolls

A homemade crescent roll is amazing in itself. Add warm cranberry filling and it is over the top yummy! ~Rachel

Bread Ingredients:
1 cup milk
1 cup butter/margarine
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons (2 packages) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110-115*)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
7-8 cups flour
1 can whole cranberry sauce

Glaze:
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Instructions:
In saucepan, heat milk,butter,sugar and salt until bubbles appear around the edge.

Stir well. Cool (95-100*F)

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast with warm water. Let stand 5-10 minutes.

Beat yeast mixture and egg into milk mixture at low speed. Beat in half of the flour at low speed until smooth. Mix in remaining flour until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Mix on low for 2 minutes. Cover with a cloth; let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Divide into 4 balls; roll each ball into a 12-inch circle. Cut each circle into 6 wedges. Scoop about 1 Tablespoon of cranberry sauce onto each rectangle. Starting with the wide end, roll up each wedge. Place on greased backing sheet. Curve ends to form crescent.

Cover loosely with a cloth; let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400* F. Brush crescents with glaze and bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

 

Broccoli Supreme
6 Servings

My grandmother made this dish and it has always been my favorite way to eat broccoli. ~Rachel

Ingredients:
24 ounces broccoli
2 eggs
1 cup cottage cheese
1 teaspoon onion, finely diced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup butter/margarine, melted
½ cup bread crumbs
1 cup cheese, grated

Instructions:
Cook broccoli until crisp tender. Put in 9×9 baking dish.

Combine eggs, cottage cheese, onion, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.

Pour over broccoli.

Combine butter and bread crumbs. Sprinkle over broccoli mixture.

Bake at 350*F for 25 minutes. Top with grated cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes.

 

Christmas Veggie Pizza
Makes Two Christmas Trees; 8 serving each.

This recipe makes for a fun appetizer at a Christmas party or can be used as an addition to any meal. ~Chrystal

Ingredients:
2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent rolls or 2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury™ refrigerated Crescent Dough Sheet
1 – 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups finely chopped assorted vegetables (bell peppers, broccoli, carrot, cucumber and/or green onions)
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Instructions:

Heat oven to 375*F. Remove dough from cans; do not unroll.

Cut 16 slices from each can. Lay into the shape of two trees (or Christmas wreath!)

Bake one tree 11 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute; carefully loosen and slide onto cooling rack to cool.

Bake and cool second tree. Place each tree on serving platter.

In small bowl, mix cream cheese, ranch dressing and garlic powder; blend until smooth. Spread mixture over both trees.

Decorate trees with assorted vegetable pieces and cheese.

Refrigerate until serving time. To serve, pull apart slices of tree.

 

Pistachio Mallow Salad

I am reminded of my Grandmother Bixby who was known for making these types of desserts. This Pistachio Fluff is especially yummy and has my family fighting over the leftovers. ~ Chrystal 

Ingredients:
1-16 ounce carton frozen whipped topping, thawed
1-3.4 ounce package instant pistachio pudding mix 6 to 7 drops green food coloring, optional
3 cups miniature marshmallows
1-20 ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
1/2 cup pistachios or walnuts, chopped
Additional whipped topping, optional

Instructions:
In a large bowl, combine whipped topping, pudding mix and food coloring if desired.

Fold in the marshmallows and pineapple. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Just before serving, top with additional whipped topping if desired, sprinkle with nuts.

 

Christmas Cheese Ball
Makes 1 Cheese Ball

This is the only kind of cheese ball we ever made for Christmas. The crushed pineapple gives it a unique twist that most cheese balls don’t have. ~Angie

Ingredients:
2 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup crushed pineapple, well-drained (get as much moisture out of the pineapple as possible)
2 teaspoons onion, minced
2 teaspoons sweet red pepper flakes
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt
1/2 – 1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

Instructions:
Combine all ingredients, except for the nuts.

Shape into a ball and pat on the nuts.

Chill and serve with crackers.

 

Caramel Popcorn

Having been raised in Brazil where Christmas popcorn was unavailable to buy in the stores, we always made this homemade version of caramel popcorn. Make a big batch–this stuff is addicting! ~Angie

Ingredients:
7 quarts popped popcorn (about 1 3/4 cups raw popcorn)
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup light or dark corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda

Instructions:
Mix together the brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in soda.

Immediately pour over popped popcorn.

Dump the caramel-covered popcorn onto 2 ungreased baking pans (with sides)

Bake at 250*F for about 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes. As it bakes, the popcorn will get drier and crunchier.

Note: Make sure all popcorn is popped by the time the caramel sauce is ready. The sauce hardens quickly and it will be hard to adequately coat the popcorn if it isn’t immediately poured over the popcorn.

 

We hope you have many opportunities this Christmas season to welcome people into your home to praise God for His Incarnation and worship Him together around your table! 

 

Awaited Savior, Coming King

Christmas: that time of year where we celebrate the Little Baby, born in a manger.

In some ways, Christ was just like any other baby ever born, for He went through the physical birth process every baby must go through. He had the same physical needs every baby has: He needed clothing, food, shelter, and care. And unlike some folk-tradition, He did cry and need a mother’s arms to comfort Him, just like every other baby who needs a mother’s arms to hold and comfort them.

But in other ways—very significant ways—Christ was unlike any other baby ever born.

Indeed, He was God made into the form of a man.

He laid aside His divine glory so that He might clothe Himself with the garments of human flesh and human limitations, yet He never sinned.

And with His birth, Christ set in motion the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan, designed since before the foundation of the world.

What exactly was this plan?

Way back in the Garden of Eden, God declared to Satan and promised to Adam and Eve that He would “put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

God promised that one day, One would come who would conquer Satan, the tempter, the arch-enemy of God. This One would deliver mankind from sin’s penalty that has hung as a death-sentence over us since that critical day in the Garden.

God’s promise of a coming Deliverer was the seed of hope planted in the hearts of the first two people on planet earth. This was the seed of hope given in the midst of hopelessness.

As time went on, God unfolded more details of His divine plan to crush Satan and conquer sin.

We learn a description of who this Promised One would be:

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
(Isaiah 7:14)

Then we learn of this One’s name:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:7)

Just one verse later, we learn of part of the greater purpose for the Promised One: He will establish an everlasting kingdom, unlike any this world has ever known.

“Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,
upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom,
to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

And then, as the prophets of old spoke according to the Word of the Lord, we learn where this Promised One would come from:

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah,
yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel;
whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.                           (Micah 5:2)

Generations passed and still no Deliverer had come.

Undoubtedly, many gave up on God ever making good on His promise to send One who would set all things right.

But then that quiet night, as the humble shepherds watched their flocks under the dark night’s sky, the glorious, magnificent, long-awaited news came!

An angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and joyously proclaimed to them:

“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day
in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
(Luke 2:10-11)

The Savior, Christ the Lord, had come!

This is the One who was promised on that fateful day when man rebelled against God and sin entered the world.

This is the One who would redeem mankind from the curse of sin.

This is the One who would crush the Serpent’s head.

This is the One who would establish His kingdom forevermore.

This is the One who had come!

God’s promise of redemption and deliverance was no longer just a promise: It was beginning to unfold, even as the shepherds stood there in wonder at the angel’s announcement and joyous refrain of praise to God!

Christ’s birth declared to all those who believed that God was fulfilling His promise: He had sent the Deliverer.

However, while we rejoice in the coming of this baby, we still await the complete fulfillment of God’s promises concerning this Deliverer, for we continue to await the day when Christ will set up His eternal Kingdom and rule with divine justice and judgment.

This Christmas season, as we exult in the birth of Jesus Christ, let us rejoice not only in the celebration of the beginning of God’s unfolding plan, but also in the glad confidence that He is going to fulfill the rest of His promise by one day setting up His Kingdom to reign forevermore!

~Angie

Gospel Centered Gift Ideas (mostly books)

 

Jesus Christ, the greatest gift ever given!

Every December we celebrate Jesus Christ coming to earth as a baby, born in the little town of Bethlehem. We think of the wise men that brought Him kingly gifts. Ultimately, we think of the gift of salvation He offers because of His death and resurrection.

What could be more appropriate than giving a gift this Christmas that points to the greatest gift ever given and the reason for celebrating?!

 Journibles

 Simply copy down Scripture. That’s what they used to do in Bible times, and that is the premise for Journibles. It may sound simplistic, but the process of writing out a book of the Bible has rewards that can only be understood once you have done it.

 

 

 

The Garden the Curtain and the Cross


The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross portrays with certain weightiness how sin entered the world, how God dwelt among His people, and how the Israelites were forbidden access into the Holy of Holies, God’s very presence. Over and over, the phrase is repeated “but because of your sin, you can’t come in.” It is beautiful to read how the believer now has access to the Father through Christ’s death. The illustrations in this book are delightful and the message will bring fresh joy and awe even to the parent’s heart while they read it to their children.

God’s Very Good Idea 

With charming illustrations, God’s Very Good Idea depicts how God created each person differently, but how each person—no matter how different they may be—can be a part of God’s wonderful family, the Church. The detailed pictures in this book are fantastic, and once again, the message of the Gospel is written in such a way that adults can appreciate God’s Very Good Idea just as much as children will. Every home should have this book.

Children’s Christmas Carols  – Children love hearing other kids sing! Mix up your Christmas playlist with these classic Christmas carols for children. There is even the option of purchasing unlimited streaming if you prefer that method.

 

The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible


The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible is a excellent resource for teaching children the Gospel message: with simple narratives and bold illustrations, each story stays true to the Biblical account and does not elaborate with extra-Biblical details to make the story more exciting. However, it does not dumb down important lessons such as the need for the Passover Lamb or the truth that Jesus really is God. In fact, one of the best features of this book is the main question at the end of each lesson that parents can use to drive home a Gospel truth. Each lesson presenting Gospel truths in a simple, yet accurate way so even the very young child can understand.

Fisher-Price Nativity

Children are always intrigued with nativity sets but they are often a hands-off item. This nativity is a perfect Christmas gift for young ones. Take time to tell your kiddo the Christmas story using these little figures or give them one piece a day leading up to Christmas with baby Jesus given on Christmas day!

Journal Bible
A Journal Bible is a beautiful tool for men or women to observe and meditate on truths as they use the blank space on each page for note taking or sketching art that correlates with Biblical truth!

 

My Creative Bible

A lot like a Journal Bible, My Creative Bible, has a wealth of blank area for notes and creative inspiration along with existing artwork of key verses ready to be colored in. I know many tween/teen girls who would enjoy a Bible like this!

 

We are always looking for ideas and would love to hear your recommendations for Gospel centered gifts! We hope you have a wonderful time sharing gifts with one another as you celebrate the Greatest Gift ever given!

Hard Situations Through Which God Taught Us Thankfulness

As part of our Thankful Thursday series, today’s post will be a panel post where we share our  personal answers to the following question:

 

What circumstance has God allowed into your life that you have had a hard time being thankful for?  

Chrystal:
This question is a hard one to answer for me. Mainly because God hasn’t asked me to walk through any (what I would consider) major life crisis yet. No chronic illness, no miscarriage, no job loss, no wayward child, etc….yet. So when I look at my life and see the areas where I struggle with thankfulness it all seems rather petty to me. And yet, I think whether we are currently walking through a valley or pasture, God’s call to each of us remains the same. Be thankful.

 

For me, I find it the hardest to give thanks when my own personal comfort is being jeopardized. So, this plays itself out in my marriage: I want a husband who will pursue and serve me even when he’s tired. It plays itself out with my kids: I want them to behave well and never inconvenience me, especially in public. It plays itself out in my home: I want a home that always stays clean and never feels dirty or cluttered, etc.

 

In the moment these things seem like good and honest desires to me. Husbands should pursue their wives, right? Children should obey their parents, right? Our homes should be up kept, right? And yet, often I find myself prioritizing these things above God. I get upset when these “rights” of mine aren’t working out. And suddenly my ugly heart is exposed with what I truly idolize: myself.

 

It is at these moments that I need to remind myself that God is the source of my satisfaction. Ultimately, I should never be looking to myself, my family or my home as my reasons for a grateful heart. (Not that I can’t be thankful for those things, but at a base level those are not good wells to be drawing my joy from.) Ultimately, my family and home can be taken away, but God has promised me all the satisfaction and joy I need in Him.

 

Psalm 16: 8-11 – “I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasure for evermore.”

 

My hope is in Christ, not in man/circumstances. Christ is my Redeemer. And when God is the source of my happiness I will always have a reason to rejoice.

 

Angie: 
 Almost four years ago, God allowed me to miscarry twins, our first pregnancy. At first, I was simply dealing with all the emotions of the grief. However, after a while, it did become an issue of “Can I thank God for this?” Needless to say, it was an intense struggle to honestly thank God for our miscarriage. Deep down in my heart, I knew that I was supposed to be thankful for it. But my flesh fought against yielding so easily to the correct answer. To come to the point of being able to thank Him for our miscarriage, I believe there was one perspective that was primarily instrumental: I had to establish a deep-rooted conviction of God’s sovereignty and goodness in everything, even in our miscarriage.

 

God used His Word and several books (primarily Knowing God, by Jerry Bridges and Inheritance of Tears, by Jessalyn Hutto) to help my heart grow in my conviction of His sovereignty and goodness in all things. With time, this conviction has become the foundation for understanding and giving thanks for our miscarriage. I don’t understand the full reason for why He allowed it. I don’t understand all of the things that He has accomplished and continues to accomplish through our miscarriage. But I do understand that God’s Word teaches us that He is good and sovereign in all His ways, and as such, I can trust Him, even when there were times when it felt like I was being suffocated of the very air I breathed because of the pain of the loss.

 

It is because of His faithfulness to show His goodness and sovereignty that I can now thank Him in this pain as He works to accomplish His good work in me. Because of our miscarriage, God has blessed me with some of the sweetest times of fellowship with Him as He revealed Himself through the pages of His Word. However, even now, almost four years since our miscarriage, there are still times when I wonder if the pain will ever go away. It is during these moments then, that I again have to remind myself of the bedrock truth that God continues to be good and sovereign, and continues to use even the pain for His good will.

 

Rachel:
When I was just a tiny little girl I remember wanting to grow up and be a mommy to a lot of children. As I got older I envisioned being a strong woman who delivered all my children naturally without the aid of any medication or pain-reliever.As our first baby’s due date drew closer and Braxton hicks come in strong waves I prepared myself mentally for delivery. On the day that marked 40 weeks everything changed. Our doctor told me that I had a problem with my cervix which was causing it to not dilate. The longer the pregnancy continued the higher the risk of an emergency cesarean became. There were two options: one, schedule induction or wait it out and risk an emergency c-section. He suggested we go home and make our decision, if we chose to wait the baby would need to be monitored every couple days.

Before our next appointment arrived I began to labor hard and a few hours later my water broke with contractions coming every two minutes. We arrived at the hospital anticipating that our baby would arrive very soon only to find that I was not dilated at all. I labored for 29 hours and still had not reached 5 centimeters. At this point I was given an epidural and a high dose of pitocin. Six hours later our little girl made her appearance! A perfect healthy little blonde baby was placed in our arms. I was so happy and so thankful for our girl and that we had been spared a c-section.

Fast forward 21 months and we were preparing for the birth of our second little one. I was positive that things would be different this time, so sure that I could “do it” without help or medication this time! But as that 40 week mark come then went and I showed no signs of dilating, though I was experiencing strong labor pains, I grew more and more upset and bawled my eyes out in the OB office at 40 weeks 6 days. The midwife told me to go home for some lunch then come back for a stress test and ultrasound.

Baby passed the stress test with flying color but as I lay there while the nurse moved the ultrasound doppler around on my stomach I could tell from her face something was not quite right. She explained that the amniotic fluid was almost totally gone which could cause complications and even a still birth if this baby did not come very soon. She fetched a doctor who looked me in the eyes and told us that we were not leaving this room. She said she never liked to induce unless it was absolutely necessary and this was one of those times. I lay there thinking “This is NOT how I wanted things to go, this is not how I want to tell my story. But I can do it this time without an epidural, I’m sure I can be strong enough!”

As my body reacted to the medication it was riddled with the most excruciating pain beyond what I ever imagined. I truly though I was going to die. Hours passed. By the time I looked at my husband and gave into an epidural I could not stand, sit or lay down and my body would not stop shaking.  As the nerve block did its job I slept and woke up ready to deliver. 13 hours of labor and another beautiful, perfectly healthy little girl was placed in our arms! Thank you God! My dreams of “normal” labors and deliveries have crumbed before me twice but each time I am strongly reminded how much I have to be thankful for-  thankful that my body can carry our babies, thankful for doctors and modern technology which I’m sure God used to save my life and our babies lives, thankful to have been spared c-sections, thankful that each time God has given Jeremiah and I strong, healthy little girls! It has been hard but I can only praise God!

 

It is amazing and encouraging to see how God uses many different circumstances and situations to teach us and mold us into the image of His Son! He is good and faithful!