October: A Time for your Family to Shine Christ’s Love

October: A Time for your Family to Shine Christ’s Love

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I love the tradition of lighting the jack-o-lantern. It’s one we don’t do much anymore for safety concerns, but thankfully there are some really great battery-operated lights to use in their place. The glow from the pumpkins in the dark night is just really cool! There are many negative connotations with Halloween so it’s a holiday I tread lightly upon, but one idea I can get behind is being a light. It’s a topic we can talk about year-round, but I especially love to use this time of year to think about ways to shine God’s love.

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Here are some fun ideas to help your family focus on shining God’s light this October:

Learn a lesson from a pumpkin. 

In 2 Corinthians 4:6 we read: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 

If you think about the message in this verse, it’s quite like the light that we shine in our jack-o-lanterns. Liz Curtis Higgs has a wonderful children’s book titled “The Pumpkin Patch Parable.” This story compares a carefully selected pumpkin, cleaned up and transformed by its farmer, to what happens when we let Jesus take over our lives. It is a great story to read with your children in anticipation of a trip to the pumpkin patch!

Take a family glow walk. 

With the cooler weather and the sun setting earlier, now is a great time to take a walk in the dark with your kids. Grab a flashlight and maybe some fun glow sticks. On your walk, talk about how the light allows you to see where you are going. Use this a bridge to discuss God’s word being a light for us.

Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Say a special pumpkin prayer together. 

Here is a simple prayer you can say together as you carve your family pumpkin this year. There is a different line to say for each step of the process. Click Here:  Pumpkin Prayer

Along those lines, here is another great version of the pumpkin prayer in the form of a printable book (from Christian Preschool Printables) that you can use to say the prayer over and over again! Click Here: Pumpkin Carving Prayer 

Participate in a family glow worship night. 

Give everyone a fun light stick to use while you sing songs that praise Jesus. Don’t forget to sing “This Little Light of Mine!” One of my favorite parts of the pumpkin prayer is said as the eyes are carved: “Lord, open my eyes to see all of the beautiful things you have made.” Take some time to pass around a special light (or candle, if your kids are mature enough) and let each person share something beautiful in their lives that they are thankful for.

Shine your light through family service projects. 

Matthew 5:16 says,

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

A great way to put this verse into practice is by doing a special service project together. It could be something simple such as baking pumpkin muffins for a new mom or an elderly neighbor. If your children are older, try volunteering at your local food bank or help someone with their yard work. Brainstorm together one night around the dinner table ways to shine the light of Christ and put a plan into action!

Place reminders in your home! 

At this stage in my life, I’m not a huge craft person. However, I do enjoy coloring sheets because they are EASY and my daughter loves them! These coloring sheets from Christian Preschool Printables focus on Christ and shining your light. After your kids have colored them, display them around your house. Each time you see one, your family will be reminded to shine the light of Jesus this season! Click Here: Free Coloring Pages 

I hope you’ve found some ideas to keep Christ at the center of your home through the month of October! Have a wonderful season shining for Christ!

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The Vast Ocean of God’s Love

The Vast Ocean of God’s Love

 

Discovering the Vast Ocean

Recently, I took my almost-two-year-old to the beach for the first time. Watching her discover the vast ocean was truly a sight to behold. As we walked along the boardwalk she giggled at the bumpy logs. Then, as we moved on, she became curious about walking on the sand. It didn’t take long for her to notice the shells. She bent down and took such delight in the fact that I was encouraging her to touch them.

Then the sand began to get wet…all of a sudden she noticed the ocean. She looked out at the unending water and was amazed. She giggled and walked toward it, thrilled when the water splashed over her feet. Her eyes remained fixed on the immensity of the ocean. There was no end in sight, only water. She’d never seen something so big before. Something as big as the ocean.

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As her mom, there was so much to think about as I watched her in that moment, but there was one thought that rang over the rest:

 

“How deep the Father’s love for us. How vast beyond all measure.”

As Romans 5:8 tells us,

“But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

 

It’s a truth I so often forget to savor. That God loved me enough to let his son die for me. Honestly, it’s impossible to wrap my mind around what that even means. That sort of love is not something we know on this earth. The ocean, so vast that it’s impossible to see its entirety in one view, reminds me of God’s immeasurable love. The love God has for us is so deep, so wide, so all-encompassing that we can’t wrap our minds around it here on earth, for it’s too great. 

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is…”
 Ephesians 3:18 

Redeemed by the Son

On our own, we are full of fault–too dirty to be in God’s perfect presence. He sent his Son to this earth to redeem us. Jesus gave his life on the cross so that we could be made clean and pure before the Lord and live in his glorious presence for eternity. It’s a gift we could never earn or deserve–even the most “perfect” Christian you know is undeserving of God’s great grace. Salvation is given out of grace, mercy, and love.

I’m not sure where you are on your walk with God, but friend, God loves YOU so much! Have you discovered his love for you yet? If not, we’d love to help you find it. (Please send us a message or comment below if you’d like to know more.)

If you have discovered and accepted his love, are you remembering his love often? Are you taking time to dwell on it? I’m not sure I meditate on God’s love enough, but I’m thankful for the reminders He so gently gives me.

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Message of Love

I love the worship song, “How Deep the Father’s Love.” It’s a beautiful reminder of how God demonstrated his personal love for us. I want to stand in wonder of God’s love the way my daughter stood in wonder of the water. Witnessing the amazement in my daughter’s eyes as she discovered God’s great ocean was a reminder to me of God’s vast love for us.

If you have a moment, I encourage you to listen to “How Deep the Father’s Love.” The video I’m attaching is an a capella version by Keith Lancaster and the Acapella Company. If you don’t have time to listen, you can read through the lyrics below. Even if you’ve heard the song hundreds of times, the message is a beautiful one. It’s the message of God’s great love. With a sweet message like that on your heart, you’ll be able to create a great day for sure!

How deep the Father's love for us. How vast beyond all measure.

How Deep the Father’s Love

Click HERE to hear “How Deep the Father’s Love”. 

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss–
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life–
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart–
His wounds have paid my ransom.

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Steve Lehman’s Famous Soup

Steve Lehman’s Famous Soup

While I was growing up, my dad always had some version of tortilla soup he liked to make. It was a staple with our busy schedules, but we loved it enough to enjoy it for our Christmas Eve dinner. He’s never followed a recipe for his soup and it’s changed quite a bit over time. In recent years, his soup has been out-of-this-world-good. He might be making a pot for the hungry teachers at my mom’s school, friends and family, or simply to eat on for a few days.

Everyone always wants the recipe but he doesn’t know what to tell people. He usually says something like, “I don’t really have a recipe, it’s more of a method.” So recently I decided to observe him and attempt to form a recipe. I think I’ve got it! I’m not sure that you’d really call this a tortilla soup (though it is quite good with tortilla chips) so I’m affectionately calling this Steve Lehman’s Famous Soup. This is a wonderful soup to share with the ones you love! I hope you enjoy!

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Steve Lehman’s Famous Soup 

Note: The amount of veggies can depend on your preference or what you have on hand. Feel free to adjust to your needs. 

12 carrots, peeled and sliced at an angle

1-2 yellow squash, diced

2-3 ears of corn in the husk

1 large onion, diced

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

(Optional) A handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

2 32-ounce boxes of unsalted chicken broth

1 large can of diced tomatoes, drained

8 ounces good quality salsa (or to taste)

1 heaping Tbsp oregano (or to taste)

1/2 tsp cumin

3/4 tsp coriander

Salt and pepper to taste

2-2.5 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs

Directions

  1. Add a couple swirls of olive oil to a hot skillet. Add garlic, onion, and carrots. Cover, and let cook about 15-20 minutes, or until carrots are just starting to get soft, but are still firm. Stir occasionally while they cook.
  2. Meanwhile, heat broth, tomatoes, salsa, oregano, cumin, coriander, cilantro, salt and pepper in a large pot. Bring to a simmer. (*The salsa might scare you a bit, but it really doesn’t add very much heat. If you want to avoid spicy, use a mild salsa. Also, use a good quality salsa, preferably one that is NOT chunky.)
  3. Prepare the corn. Place corn, with husk, directly into the microwave. Cook about 15 minutes, or until you can cut off the end and squeeze cob out of husk clean with no silk. (Time will vary.) Slice corn off of the cob.
  4. When the carrots have reached a soft but firm texture, add them to to the pot along with with all the juices from the pan. Add corn to the pot at this time as well. Continue to simmer.
  5. Season chicken thighs with a good seasoning salt. Add a couple swirls of olive oil to your hot skillet and cook chicken thighs completely. When they are done, dice chicken.
  6. Add chicken, along with all the juices from the pan, and squash to the pot. Simmer about 45 minutes more, until ready to eat.

Serve soup with blue corn chips and avocado or fresh cornbread.

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famous-soup

 

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Feeding the Flame: Is Your Faith a Blaze or a Flicker?

Feeding the Flame: Is Your Faith a Blaze or a Flicker?

“Can you come pick me up? I had to take the truck to the shop.”

I did not want to hear those words right as I was putting my daughter down for her nap! Apparently, my poor husband had been taking care of car troubles all morning. I thought it was a normal day, with my husband at work, I hadn’t been looking at my phone.

Feeding the Flame of Doubt

Driving to pick him up, I felt my mood on the decrease as I thought about what these truck problems might cost. We’ve got enough, but money is still tight right now. The last thing we needed was to spend our financial cushion. I felt like crying. Later that day I did.

My insecurities set in.

“You are such a loser…if you had taken a real job after college you wouldn’t be in this mess.”

“You aren’t smart enough to have a real job. You don’t have enough talent.”

Naturally, like any good wife, I texted my wallowings to my husband. To which he replied, “It’ll be okay…we have God.”

Hmmm…I know, I know. We have God. Why don’t I feel okay though? Why isn’t that enough for me right now?

God had an answer for me.

 

Feeding the Flame of the Lord’s Altar

While my daughter was napping, I opened up my Leviticus study and the highlighted verse for the day was Leviticus 6:12:

“The fire on the altar must burn continually; it must not be allowed to go out. The priests are to feed wood to the fire every morning…”

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The altar was holy. It was a direct path to the presence of God and communication with him. The aromas burnt on this altar were for God and pleasing to him. I find it so fascinating that God instructed the fire to burn continually. God was the one who started the fire to begin with. Leviticus 9:4 says,

“Fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground.”

God’s instructions were that the fire on the altar be only the fire from God. The altar offerings were important–they were a means to salvation–and they could only be made with God’s help. This fire on the altar was a symbol of God’s power and presence in the lives of the Israelites and a reminder of their constant need for Him.

This fire didn’t stay burning on its own though. The priests had to feed it each morning with wood so that it would not go out.

 

Feeding the Flame of Faith

That morning when everything seemed to be going wrong for me I had not fed my fire. That whole week, actually, I had not fed my fire. I don’t mean the literal fire on the altar mentioned in Leviticus, but you know what fire I’m talking about. The Spirit and the passion that lives inside of us when we accept Christ. The Spirit of Christ which cleanses us and makes us holy. Yes, that fire. Perhaps that fire needs to be fed often too. Perhaps that is a flame that should not burn out.

When I feed my flame, I’m reminded of God’s power and of his loving grace. I remember that “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) Then, when troubles come my way I don’t have to listen to the devil whisper insecurities in my ear. I won’t be overcome with worry and frustration. Because I have God. 

If you’ve accepted Christ as your Savior then you have God, too. Having God means that we see the big picture. We see that we’ve overcome all obstacles already through the blood of Christ. Christ has prepared a way for us to eternal life with God, and that, my sweet friend, is what matters most in this life.

Once I fed my fire that day and was reminded of God’s power and grace, my attitude changed. I began to see all the ways God had provided for us. I was grateful we had the money to pay the car shop and our bills! We had good cars to drive, and all of our needs were met. Things were going to be just fine. (And they were!)

Feeding the Flame

A Flickering Flame or a Roaring Fire?

When we forget to feed our flame, we’ll hold only a small flicker and we’ll forget the power we have in Christ. We must feed our fire daily, every morning, so that it will not run out! 

When you wake up each morning, acknowledge our God! Make time to study His word so that you can learn more about Him. Feed your flame! Let God set your heart on fire and may it burn brighter and brighter over time.

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Lemon Chicken and Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner

Lemon Chicken and Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner

The school year might be upon us, but the weather is still warm and it’s not quite time to simmer a pot of chili on the stove! With routines kicking back into gear we can all use easy dinner recipes. Have you tried any of the popular sheet pan recipes that have been floating around social media? Those are PERFECT for busy nights! You can whip them up quickly and if you line your pan with foil or parchment paper, clean up is a breeze. What makes them perfect for this late summertime is that they utilize all the great veggies you find this time of year at the market.

My mother-in-law recently shared this recipe for chicken thighs with green beans and red potatoes that’s drizzled with a lemon dressing and we gobbled it all up- even the picky preschooler! So I thought I’d share the love with all of my sweet friends at Creating a Great Day in case you are in need a delicious and simple dinner recipe!

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Lemon Chicken and Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner:

Ingredients:

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 lb  small red potatoes, quartered

1 lb  fresh green beans

3 TB Olive Oil

2 TB Fresh lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 TB Italian Herb Blend (Or combine a TB of your favorite dried herbs such as rosemary, basil, oregano, and thyme)

Instructions:

  1. Arrange veggies and chicken on sheet pan.
  2. Combine oil, lemon juice, and garlic with herbs, salt, and pepper.
  3. Drizzle oil blend on chicken and veggies and use your hands to coat everything well with the oil.
  4. Roast at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.
  5. Serve with crusty bread, which you can dip in the oil from your pan. 🙂

 

I hope your family enjoys this sheet pan dinner as much as we have!

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