My Four-Letter Word for 2018 and How I Chose it

My word for 2017 was LOVE– a tiny word that packed a powerful punch. I wanted another short, meaningful word for 2018, but 2017 was nearly out the door, and I hadn’t chosen one.

On December 20, 2017, I wrote in my journal, “Lord, please lead me to the right word, or take away my desire to have one.”

Sometimes God speaks through circumstances and people around us. Over the next few days, I received gentle nudges, like sprinkles on sugar cookies~~

Memories resurfaced~

My sister gave me a unique Christmas present~

I began reading a book from my mother~

And my dear friend Denise died~~

I didn’t tie everything together until December 31st.

My word for 2018 probably started percolating in mid-December when I baked Christmas cookies with my granddaughter Rilynn.

Watching her draw squiggly lines with icing, I remembered being eight years old and how much I  loved my Easy-Bake Oven. Strange–to be all grown up, missing your Easy-Bake Oven. Then a lifetime of Christmases passed, and the joy of baking cookies got shelved.

In 2007, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Sometimes illness can lead to blessings.

After I was diagnosed, I taught myself how to cook again–even yummy gluten-free cookies.

For several Christmases, my daughters and I made them together~~

Such a simple thing, but I loved doing it.

Why does baking cooking make me so happy? 

“Cookies” can’t be my word for 2018.

You can’t grow closer to God from baking cookies.

One day in late December, I scrolled through the photos on my Instagram feed.

Lots of cookie pictures~

Why am I fascinated with baking cookies? What are You saying, Lord?

This Christmas, I made dozens of cookies and gave them away. Something I’d never done.

First to my family and close friends.

Then I gave a tin of white chocolate cranberry cookies to our pastor and his family.

I didn’t know if cookies counted as a real gift, but they do.

I got a huge surprise this Christmas. For the first time in my life, my sister gave me cooking supplies.

I felt eight years old again! 

And I began reading the book from my mother, Ann Voskamp’s, The Broken Way.

Warning: This is a life-changing book. It’s not the kind of book you can skim. I read it slowly, whispering the words, letting them soak into my soul.

Ann writes about being broken, and giving your heart away to others who are broken.

She mentions “choosing to be bread to all kinds of hungry.” 

Bread.

Bread is food.

So are cookies.

People are hungry for love. 

I read this sentence on page 89 over and over~~

“Why grow the list of what I want to have instead of the list of what I can give?”

What I can give…

That’s when my word for 2018 found me.

GIVE.

GIVE.

GIVE. 

What if I keep baking cookies and giving them away?

After Denise died, I made cookies for her friends and family. Actually, the cookies remade me.

“Lord, I’m pouring love into this batch of cookies. Will You pour Your love into Denise’s people today?”

I came home from the funeral with an empty tray and a full heart of love.

Then I prayed a new prayer. 

“Father, if You’ll show me people who need to be loved, I’ll give them cookies.”

When we give from our hearts, God fills us up with more love to share. click to tweet

“Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over…” Luke 6:38 KJV

Share your word, thoughts, and dreams for 2018 in the comments. 

Have you ever rediscovered a form of creativity that you loved as a child? Pretty awesome, isn’t it!

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friendship…Served With Love on a Paper Plate

A couple of years ago, my husband was all gung-ho about joining a small group at church. Not me. You can’t just throw people together and say, “Wa-lah! Make friends. Form bonds. Trust each other.”

Friendship takes time. 

And it’s risky. 

Being vulnerable enough to experience community brings the possibility of getting hurt.

Yes, of course, I’ve been hurt. I bet you have too.

And I’m embarrassed to tell you, but I wondered if I’d reached a stage in life when you don’t make many more new friends.

But my word Surrender wouldn’t leave me alone.

After days of running scared, I let go of control (again!), and we joined a small group. We knew Rick and Kim, our leaders, and one other person, but the rest of them were strangers.

That first night, my heart went thumpety-thump as we introduced ourselves.

Over time, we shared our struggles, our prayer requests, our joys. Something spread between us like warm caramel.

We were no longer strangers.

We became friends.

Since we ate together, I told them about having Celiac disease, an autoimmune illness, meaning I have to eat gluten-free.

After eighteen months, my husband and I became small group leaders.

Guess what else?

Rick and Kim invited us to their small group party last week!

Kim texted me: CAN YOU HAVE JELLO INSTANT PUDDING?

YES! 🙂

She made two gorgeous orange pineapple cakes–one regular and one gluten-free. For me. 

I nearly cried!

It had been almost eight years since I’d had a layered cake. I didn’t even know it was possible! And my cake looked exactly like the regular one.

Kim reached out with love and helped me feel like a regular person!

The next morning, I had two pieces for breakfast. 🙂

When we relinquish control, sometimes God brings the sweetest surprises. And friendships! 

(Kim used Pamela’s GF vanilla cake mix for mine.)

Thoughts on friendships? 

Share a time when someone’s kindness blew you away. 

Love,

Julie