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Let us not become weary in doing
good, for at the proper time we will
reap a harvest if we do not give up.
(Galations 6:9)

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Christmas Every Day

By Pat

For many people, sadness sets in when Christmas is over. The cookies are gone, the tree is taken down, lights and decorations packed away. The feelings of peace and joy are replaced by a kind of melancholy, and life resumes as usual. I admit that I, too, am sometimes struck by pangs of sadness realizing it's all over. But why is that? Is it really over?

The greatest gifts ever given were the gifts of forgiveness, redemption and salvation, sent in the form of a baby, our Savior. But this precious gift, unlike other Christmas gifts, can be opened every day and celebrated long after the visible signs of Christmas are gone. For you see, with the right mindset, every day can be Christmas in our hearts.

Every day we can (and SHOULD!) wake up and thank God for the precious gift of Jesus. Every day we can remember that we are saved; redeemed by the birth of a sacred baby. Why reserve those feelings of gratutude for Christmas day? Every day presents us with opportunities to give of helping a neighbor in need, serving the underprivileged, extending the hand of brotherly love to our fellow man. Why save it for the Christmas season? Instead of presenting Jesus with gifts of gold, incense and myrrh, can't we offer Him the gifts of kindness, generosity and love every day? For each kindness shown, each little gift given, every act of selflessness, is actually a gift to baby Jesus, like those extended to Him by the wise men who traveled to see our newborn King.

With a right heart, we can celebrate Christmas every day, and keep the feeling alive all throughout the year. In fact, I think I will leave my tiny little manger scene out so that I can see it many times each day to remind me not to limit the Christmas spirit to December 25th. Perhaps I'll adopt a new tradition of doing a little something extra for someone in need each month to share the love of God. I will NOT pack away the Christmas spirit this year. I am determined to celebrate the birth of my Lord and Savior all year and to remind my little world that Jesus is born and Jesus is love...every day of the year.

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40)

Pat is a good friend who is passionate about her faith and her family. She works from home supporting a family business, and loves to read, write and garden when she can, and spends every spare moment with her grandkids.


Tasty Bites: Soft Gingerbread Recipe

By Beth V

With Christmas approaching, I was recently inspired to try an old-fashioned gingerbread recipe. Gingerbread makes a great breakfast or dessert. It is not so sweet to be only limited to dessert-time and it goes wonderfully with a cup of coffee or tea. This recipe produces a super -soft and moist, perfectly spiced, moderately sweet pan of gingerbread. This gingerbread is perfectly comfortable to stand on its own, but it also enjoys the company of a sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar or a dollop of freshly whipped cream on occasion. (Click on the links for previous recipes where this is further explained.)

Start by creaming together softened butter and brown sugar until creamy, then add in three eggs, one at a time until well-combined. Now, blend in some molasses.

Set this aside and combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Now, combine a cup of boiling water with two teaspoons baking soda.  I am not sure why the recipe calls for this step instead of just adding the baking soda into the dry ingredients, but it does turn out very nicely. Next time I make it, maybe I will try adding it to the dry ingredients to see if it makes a difference. This time I decided not to mess with a good thing. And, your children may really enjoy this extra step because the chemical reaction of the baking soda with the boiling water causes the mixture to rapidly bubble and fizz. I admit it was pretty fun to watch and it was a great reminder that cooking is science.

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God Says..."Cast all your cares on me."

By Jason V (Ponderings of a Pilgrim Pastor)

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)

As a husband, father and pastor, I face the constant temptation to worry.  At our church, with our church members and leaders, in our home, in my marriage- everywhere I face almost constant fears and anxieties.

I am tempted to worry about my children: Will they grow up to love the Lord?  Will they fall into trials and temptations that seem to plague so many “pastor’s kids”?  Have I messed up in my parenting? Am I too restrictive? Am I too permissive?

I am tempted to worry about our marriage and our household: Will we have enough money to pay for all of life’s expenses? Am I spending enough time with my wife?  Am I showing her how much I love her?  Is she feeling pressured and overwhelmed by the task of being a “pastor’s wife”?  Am I praying for her as much as I should?

At church, I am tempted to anxiety at every turn: Did the visitors like our church?  Was my sermon really any good?  Will our church grow?  Will giving increase?  Will we meet our budget?  Are our people really growing spiritually?  Are we reaching our community?  Should we be doing more?  How can we?

If I tried to carry the weight of all of these concerns and expectations, they would crush me.  Honestly, on some days, I carry too much and I do feel overwhelmed.  So what am I supposed to do?

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Perfect Obedience

By Pat

We all know the story of Mary and Joseph and the events surrounding and leading up to the most wonderful miracle ever...the birth of Jesus. I love reading and hearing it, that glorious announcement that Mary would give birth to the Son of God, despite overwhelming obstacles. What a privilege! What an honor! I usually focus on the magnificence of the holy events surrounding the birth of a King, the Savior of the world. But when I read it this morning, I was struck by the complete and utter trust and the perfect obedience shown to God by Mary.

Mary knew all the ramifications of this unexplainable and unplanned pregnancy. She had to have been scared. Everything she and Joseph had planned was now changed, and she didn't know why...only that God chose her. So, instead of arguing and presenting her case to God about how difficult this would be, she obeyed. She gave herself as His vessel. How I long to be more like her...but I would guess most of us are not. I'm certainly not.

The excuses used to justify our reluctance and hesitancy in obeying calls from God are many; too old, too young, too poor. Too busy, too dumb, too slow. Too inexperienced, too shy. If something is out of our comfort zone, we argue that we must have misunderstood what God is communicating to us-God would never ask us to do something that seems, to us, preposterous. Right? Wrong! In my heart, I know that God would do exactly that. There are countless examples in scripture of God using the seemingly improbable to accomplish the absolutely impossible, for God always equips us with every tool we need to be effective servants in His work..if only we will obey His call, as Mary did.

So when God presents us with an opportunity to serve Him, let's push aside our fears, stop arguing with God, and boldly say, "Here am I...send me." We will never know what complete and humble obedience can accomplish for the Lord until we truly trust...and OBEY.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her." (Luke 1:38)

Pat is a good friend who is passionate about her faith and her family. She works from home supporting a family business, and loves to read, write and garden when she can, and spends every spare moment with her grandkids.


One Word At A Time: Down

By Ginny (MAD21)

"D-O-W-N, down!" You say that in my house and you'll hear a big round of giggles. And for those of you who understand why without me explaining... ya, I new we'd be good friends. For those of you in the dark here, these are among some of the famous words/phrases of Candace, the big sister of Phineas and Ferb in one of the best cartoon series currently on TV. Let me take a moment to enlighten you:

Candace is always on a mission to catch her brothers during their never-ending pursuit of building the coolest inventions each episode, and get her mom to see them before the invention disappears for one reason or another. One could say she is obsessed with getting her brothers in trouble, to the point that she misses out on things going on in her own life. In one episode, she has her best friend, Stacey, hypnotize her so she doesn't even think about what her brothers are doing so that she can go have a fun day with her boyfriend, Jeremy.

Focus on what you have, not on what you don't have.

While it's a lot of fun watching Candace's antics in her never-ending pursuit to "bust her brothers," I would offer this advice for those of us in real life who may tend to also lose sight of what is important. Choose to seek out the good in people and things around you instead of dwelling on everything that is wrong.

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