December 1, 2013

Advent: Fulfillment of the First, Expectancy of the Final

Advent: The Coming

Ever since Adam and Eve had bitten the fruit and the fall, the fracturing of all things and inhabitants of the earth, occurred, all of creation was sent into a season of waiting. Waiting for the Savior. A Redeemer. The Incarnate Christ, God in human flesh. Creation spent years and years crying out for this promised Messiah. For thousands of years, they groaned for this King who would come through the bloodline of David. And God wooed. He wooed through the words of the prophets who whispered of this coming King. He wooed through the shouts of John the Baptist, "Prepare the way... He is coming!" 

Advent is the season leading up to the birth of Christ, to His coming. It's a season of waiting, waiting in tension and anticipation that is. Living in the hope of the greatest gift God had yet to give. But like all periods of waiting, the world had grown weary and heavy. 400 Long years of weariness, heaviness, longing, and desire. After the years had passed, it was time. 

The waiting was nearing an end. God's plan was carried out, events orchestrating at last. Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth had been waiting in barrenness for many, many years, and God sent an angel to give them blessed news: Their son, John, would be the one to herald in the Messiah. Gabriel comes to Mary sharing news that she of all women has been chosen to carry the very Son of God. Herod makes unjust decrees, Magi from the East pack precious gifts to carry over long distances, Shepherds are beckoned from fields, Joseph travels with Mary to register in Bethlehem... and in quietness, lowliness, humbleness the Christ child, the Messiah, is born. 

He'd finally come. 

But Advent doesn't end at His birth. Advent was but a shadow pointing not just to the manger, but ultimately to the cross. For Christ came for this very reason. A birth to celebrate the coming end of death. A birth to celebrate coming victory over the grave. A birth to celebrate life everlasting for God's children. 

And He is coming again. Not in lowliness of manger but on a mighty stead proclaiming victory. You and I are not so unlike the Israelites as we may think. They lived through the first Advent, you and I live in the midst of the second Advent. The final Advent.

During this Christmas holiday, let's remember, celebrate, rejoice in the fulfillment of the first Advent, and long for the final. He still is wooing!

*This post was originally written and published for Darling Companion by yours truly. This version has been edited

September 23, 2013

50 Ideas for Packing Shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child

50 Ideas for Packing Shoe-boxes for Operation Christmas Child

Every year I pack a box for Operation Christmas Child and then blog about it. This year I'm doing something slightly different in that I'm giving you 50 Ideas for various items to stuff into those shoe boxes before they have to leave mid-November for Christmas... which is why I'm sharing this in September. (Christmas isn't that far off!) For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Operation Christmas Child, I invite you to visit their website and check out this video here for more information, as well as packing guidelines.
  1. Flashlight with Batteries (Included) 
  2. Sunglasses
  3. Flip-Flops 
  4. T-Shirts
  5. Socks
  6. Ball Caps
  7. Small Flannel Throws
  8. Toy Jewelry
  9. Pencils/Pens/Sharpies
  10. Pencil Case
  11. Pencil Sharpeners
  12. Erasers
  13. Notebooks(or Pads)/Post-Its
  14. Solar Calculators
  15. Coloring Books or Coloring Rolls
  16. Crayons/Colored Pencils/Sidewalk Chalk/Markers
  17. Watercolor Set with Paintbrush 
  18. Individual Sealed Play-Doughs 
  19. Ink Pads with Stamps
  20. Stickers
  21. Small Stuffed Animals or Dolls 
  22. Inflatable Beach Balls
  23. Bouncy Balls
  24. Slinkies
  25. Etch-A-Sketch
  26. Puzzles
  27. Legos*
  28. Jump Ropes
  29. Picture Books
  30. Small Noise Making Toys (Harmonica, Mini-Shakers, etc.)
  31. Toy Cars 
  32. Candy**
  33. Small Card Games
  34. Balloons 
  35. Any Other Small Toys You :)
  36. Fat Quarter Bundles (For Girls in The Age 10-14 Category)
  37. Colorful Duct Tape
  38. Small Tupperware***
  39. Hand Wipes
  40. Nail Files/Nail Clippers
  41. Lip Balm/Chapstick
  42. Colorful Kid Band-Aids
  43. Hair Clips/Hair Bands
  44. Hair Ties/Scrunchies 
  45. Hair Brush/Comb
  46. Toothbrush 
  47. Toothpaste
  48. Dental Floss
  49. Bar of Soap 
  50. Washcloth
*Every once in a while I'll see small/mini Lego boxed set (or bag) go on sale for a steal, so I snag them. (Something along the lines of these or this to give you an idea of what I'm trying to describe.)
**Be sure the candy is within the guidelines (hard candies such as lollipops, Jolly Ranchers, Ring Pops, Starbursts, etc.)given and that you pack it in a plastic baggie before putting it in your box. That way, in case if any of it melts in the shipping process, it won't melt onto the other items and ruin them.
***Small Tupperware is great because the kids can use it for other uses. Just pack some of your items in the small Tupperware first and then pack it into the shoebox so you don't waste space. Plus it's always kind of fun to open up multiple containers of goodies, isn't it?

You can read previous posts I've written over the past few years for more ideas and to see how I pack my boxes (as well as some money-saving shortcuts) here.

Happy Packing!

July 19, 2013

Sweet Peaches & Poetry

Come clean with a child heart
 Laugh as peaches in the summer wind
Let rain on a house roof be a song 
Let the writing on your face 
be a smell of apple orchards on late June.
~Carl Sandburg, Honey & Salt 

Peach Pound Cake
  • 1 Cup of butter, softened
  • 2 Cups of sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 Teaspoon of baking powder
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • 2 Cups of peaches (pitted and chopped into small cubes)
Begin by beating the butter and sugar in a large bowl until the mixture become fluffy/airy and creamy. Then add in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract, baking powder, then finally, the salt. Add in 2 and 3/4 cups of flour to the batter, and put aside the other 1/4 cup for later. Now in a separate bowl toss the 1/4 cup of flour that was put aside over the chopped peaches and coat them. Fold the peaches into the cake batter, then pour it into a prepared (i.e. buttered and coated with sugar) tube or bundt cake pan. Bake in a 325 degree oven for roughly hour (or until knife/toothpick when stuck into batter comes out clean). Let cake cool for 10-15 minutes, invert it, eat and enjoy! And the added bonus is your kitchen is going to smell heavenly too =)

Peach Pound Cake Recipe

What are your favorite peach desserts to enjoy during the summertime?

April 22, 2013

Bread and Wine

Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist Book Review

There's a valuable lesson as Christians we ought to know about our dinner tables: They're a place of communion, refuge, encouragement, and nourishment for the heart, souls, and bodies that gather around them to share in a meal or a cup of coffee. It's too often the most overlooked mission field, but an extremely important one nonetheless. In her newest book, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes, Shauna Niequist invites us to taste and see this deep community.

Reading any of Shauna's books feels like I'm sitting across from a close friend having a conversation, only this time we're talking about one of my favorites things: food. I honestly do. Next to Jesus, family and friends, food brings a great deal of joy into my life: creamy pastas, olives, artisan bread, blackberries, scones with devonshire cream, freshly made guacamole and tacos... I'm all over the map as a foodie. Reading Shauna's words was like permission to indulge in my inner Giada, which was so refreshing to read in a world that pelts women with the latest diet trends and glossy magazines telling us to get skinnier. While weight is not something I've personally had a struggle with, Shuana has, and I believe she's done a wonderful job in keeping that balance of having a healthy view of our bodies, but still enjoying all the flavors around us. More importantly though, she conveys how nourishing our starving souls is as simple as connecting to another human over said steamy pasta. True to her writing style, she paints beautiful word pictures in sharing her stories, and now recipes. Nearly every chapter ends with the corresponding recipe of the meal mentioned in each of her essays, many of which I'm excited to try over the summer. But don't think to hard about perfecting the food side of things in this pursuit of community and hospitality; my philosophy of cooking is the same as Shauna: have your list of ingredients, and a general idea of how to put them together, but then go with the flow... alter it to your taste. Because at the end of the day, it's not so much about presenting your companions a perfected dish, but offering one another some nutrients we're all lacking in: grace, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, understanding, encouragement, and more. This would make a wonderful addition to your summer reading list, and if I might add, I'd pick up Tim Chester's A Meal with Jesus, and read them together.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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