Freshly Baked Goodness

Have you ever been to an unbelievably remarkable bakery? I’m talking about the kind of bakery that takes your breath away when you walk inside. The captivating aroma of all the breads, pastries, and sweets gently tickles your nose; the sights and smells make your stomach growl and your mouth water; and the incredible atmosphere of the place seems to wash all your worries away the longer you’re inside. Well, now that we’ve established just what type of bakery I’m talking about, let’s talk about the food! This type of bakery makes each and every scrumptious doughnut, loaf of bread, chocolate-covered pretzel, etc. by hand – everything made at such a bakery is unique, not some assembly line production. Hence, you know that when you and a friend each order a sticky bun, your pastries aren’t exactly the same. Doesn’t the knowledge of your order being hand-made, stamped with the signature of the baker who formed it, make eating it so much more special? Well, as wonderful as that sounds, I have something even more wonderful to fill you in on. The God of the universe hand-made you! He formed you in the secret place of His dwelling, knitted you together perfectly and intricately, and stamped his signature of approval all over you. From the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, His fingerprints adorn you. You are absolutely unique. You didn’t ride on an assembly line and get packaged like a box of crackers. NO! God made you precisely the way He, and only He, envisioned. You’re His masterpiece. Sometimes we all feel like we lack something – like we’re not this enough or that enough. But, let me tell you something: You have wonders inside of you. God has placed glorious talents and marvels within you and He wants you to radiate with His divine light. If you feel like your flame is slowly fading or you feel too depressed to even care what it is you’ve been placed on this earth to do, fall at the feet of Jesus. He knows exactly why you’re on this earth and He knows all the beautiful things He has equipped you with. He made you; He knows everything about you. If you’ve fallen down, that’s ok – He knows how to pick you back up. And He wants to pick you back up – He wants to pick you up in His arms and illuminate you with everything He has in store for you (and what He has in store for you is more amazing than you can even fathom!). Please know how valuable you are to the Father’s heart. Know that He loves you and wants the absolute best for you. You are His spectacular creation!

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument].”
Jeremiah 1:5

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
Jeremiah 29:11

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Rendezvous of Love

Sometimes, when I’m feeling jaded, downcast, restless, or I’m simply in need of an altered perspective, I  step into a gondola and float down the glistening waters of memory. As the water swishes past the sides of my boat underneath the puffy clouds of the past, I recollect and reminisce about various years, events, or even mere moments. I suppose the February dissonance – that time when winter and spring are fighting to reign  –  has been the cause of my recent memory regurgitation. Anywho, since I’m quite the foodie (you probably know that by now ;-)), it’s not surprising that food-related memories often flash through my mind. One certain memory that brings joy to my heart involves my mom (she and I have always been very close and I thank God everyday for my relationship with her). When I was younger, I was involved in sports. After various athletic endeavors, she would routinely take me to the local coffee shop where I would order a vanilla bean shake topped with whipped cream accompanied by a shortbread cookie. It was such a treat after working so hard. I always looked forward to these special rendezvous with her. We talked and talked and just knowing that she made such an effort to arrange these special times together made me feel remarkably loved. So why exactly have I invited you into my gondola and shared this memory with you? Because I want to remind you how important it is to be a blessing to people. My mom could have just picked me up and drove me home, but she chose to make our time together special. She chose to display her love for me in a unique way to let me know how much she cared. I will never forget those trips to the coffee shop and the laughter-filled conversations afterwards. It is incredible how much good one can do by implementing kindness into another person’s life. Because my mom took the time to show kindness to me, I have learned to show kindness to others. She helped me to realize how God wants us to pour love into other people’s lives. By doing so, we are showing people what Christ looks like. My mom has always shown me the face of Christ with her love, her wisdom, her compassion, her grace. Because God’s love illuminates my mom’s heart, I love the Lord also. Surrendering my life to Christ is the best decision I have ever made.  See how much power there is in blessing others? If you have ever thought “What can a kind gesture actually accomplish?” or “Can I really make a difference?”, think again. Please know that you can make a difference. You can shine Christ’s light into someone’s life and that light will guide them to Christ’s loving arms. To the world, you may be one person; but to one person, you may be the world.

“Generous people will be blessed.”
Proverbs 22:9a

Oh, the joy of a cinnamon roll

Imagine the most amazing cinnamon roll you’ve ever seen. It’s HUGE, covered in icing, and the aroma rising from it invigorates your senses. It’s perfectly shaped, perfectly baked, and if you don’t put in your mouth in the next minute, you’re going to lose your mind. My favorite part of a cinnamon roll is the very middle. It usually constitutes one big bite – that perfectly round center that’s soft, chewy, and the basin for all the wonderful flavors the cinnamon roll contains. I enjoy every other bite of the pastry as well, but in my heart, I know each bite I take will get better and better until I reach that much desired center. You know what else is like a cinnamon roll? Deliverance from a stronghold. What is a stronghold, you ask? Anything that creates an obstruction between you and God. And, there’s a reason the word strong is in the word stronghold. Whatever the stronghold may be, it’s stubborn and doesn’t want to leave you alone. It wants to keep your focus away from God. You’re probably wondering what this has to do with a cinnamon roll, but hear me out. Picture that perfect cinnamon roll again. Ok, the sought after center of the pastry is deliverance. Deliverance is sweeter than sweet. It’s that place where the stronghold no longer has control over you. Now, the outside of the cinnamon roll is the path on which God leads you on your way to deliverance. He leads you step by step, peeling back the layers of that stronghold until you reach that golden center. So, just how do you get on this path toward deliverance and how in the world do you actually get delivered? Call on Jesus. Yes, the Lord of Lords can surely deliver you. Strongholds come in many different forms, but God can deliver you from any and all of them! He wants to deliver you because He loves you, He wants the best for you, and He doesn’t want there to be any obstruction between you and Him. That cinnamon roll of deliverance is awaiting you. All you have to do is ask the Lord to deliver you from your strongholds, whatever they may be, and He will take your hand and begin leading you through each layer until you reach that sweet spot of blessed deliverance and freedom – that place where His eyes are all you see and those strongholds must bow at His feet.

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God.'”
Matthew 19:26

“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.” -Ernestine Ulmer

This may sound strange, but I love to eat cookies for breakfast.  Wait, don’t alert the health police just yet! I make these cookies myself and they’re quite healthy. They look like regular peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, but their ingredients are very different from what you’d expect: ALA Omega-3 peanut butter, wheat germ, pure honey, stevia powder, and the list goes on. They’re cookies that make you feel like your indulging in a “ships to your hips” treat, but in reality, they’re filling your body with goodness. Ok, back to my story now. I LOVE waking up to these yummy sweet treats in the morning. One giant cookie with two cups of strong, bold coffee is just what I need in the AM to revive me from my zombie state (I am NOT a morning person). But wait, there’s more to my breakfast time delight. Yep, the most important part of my morning is…*drum roll*…the Holy Word of God! This glorious holy Book makes me bouncy in the morning, too :). I love reading God-breathed Scriptures – words energized by my loving God – to help guide me throughout my day. It’s more vital to my breakfast than the cookie and the coffee combined! Ingesting God’s Word is like filling your car up with gas. This morning, I read Isaiah 26. Part of this chapter is as follows: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock” (Isaiah 26:3-4). See what I mean? It’s incredible! These words spoke wisdom to my soul this very morning. They reminded me that if I trust in the Lord – my strong, unwavering Rock – with my whole heart, He will grant me perfect peace. Wow! That’s good stuff! I encourage you to dive into the Scriptures yourself. Pray that God will guide you to the Scriptures that He wants you to read as you flip through the pages of His Word. His Spirit lives in those pages. The Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” (John 1:1-2).

In closing, I want you to know that I am praying for you today. I know God has great things in store for you and that His blessings for your life are beyond what you can even comprehend. Call on the Lord; yes, call on Him. You will never ever be disappointed.

Polly wants a cracker

You know what’s uncomfortable? Having GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease). It’s not life-threatening or anything, but it’s a real nuisance. I try to abstain from eating super spicy and greasy foods (jambalaya is definitely a no-no), I avoid carbonation at all costs, and I have to deal with agitating heartburn. A few months ago, however, I found some healthy, whole wheat saltine crackers that effectively calm the acids in my stomach. So, I try to make a habit of taking a few crackers with me whenever I’m out and about just incase a thunderstorm erupts in my stomach. Well, today, I forgot to bring crackers with me; and wouldn’t you know it, I needed some. As my stomach began to behave like a washing machine, I sought the Lord. I said, “Lord, I forgot my crackers and I need my crackers. Please help me.” And oh, what a faithful God He is! After I prayed, I was walking down a hallway and felt led to stick my head into a room I was passing. Wouldn’t you know it, there was a tray – in this very room – full of crackers that someone had left there for whoever wanted them. I was overjoyed. I ate a few crackers and within minutes, my stomach was passified. What’s my point with this story? God hears your prayers. He hears every one – even the ones about crackers. He cares about all of your needs. Do you have a need today? I’m sure you do. Pray to the Lord. Cast your cares upon Him. He wants to help you. Remember, He can do what men can’t do! He can do the impossible. You can count on Him.

“He answered their prayers, because they trusted in Him.”
1 Chronicles 5:20

I’ll have the lobster with a side of euphoria

When you order something at a restaurant, you put your faith in the waiter and the cook. You trust that the waiter will inform the chef of your order, the chef will complete it exactly as you ordered it, and the waiter will place it in front of you. While sitting at your table, do you ever think to yourself, “I’m ordering the fish and chips, but it’s very possible that the waiter and the cook will decide to change my order to chicken fingers.” Or, “Well, I may have placed my order, but I bet the the waiter and the cook will decide not to acknowledge my order and ignore me.” No, those thoughts most likely don’t run through your mind when you’re dining at a restaurant. So, why is it that when we pray to the Lord, we sometimes begin to doubt that our prayer is reaching His heart. We think that maybe He will answer by giving us something, but He may decide to completely disregard anything we actually prayed for. Or, we think that maybe He is just ignoring our prayers all together. If you have entertained these thoughts before, let me give you hope today. God does want to answer your prayers and He wants to give you the desires of your heart. And every prayer that proceeds from your heart reaches His. If you can put your faith in a waiter and a chef – trusting they will do what they say they will do, how much more should you put your faith in Almighty God? He can always be trusted. He never fails. Cast your cares upon Him and lay your whole heart in His hands. He is right there next to you, longing for you to call on Him. He hears your every prayer, even the ones that are still buried deep within your heart.

“Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need.”
Ephesians 6:18