Let’s Bake Cookies!

We sat in a booth at Panera, catching up, sharing life and what our kids were up to. My sweet friend had been to an amazing workshop, both of us a women’s event. Conversation circled around what we had been learning and what God was up to in our lives. As we talked about the excitement of studying God’s Word, my friend made a statement in reference to her time with God being like, “Let’s bake cookies!” That statement struck me. It spoke to the anticipation and inclusion we have getting to help mom or dad in the kitchen. We’re given the opportunity to get in to the ingredients, see what they do, how they fit together, and discover how they taste and feel. She spoke about digging into God’s Word being an event to look forward to, “God, let’s bake cookies!” .

It’s not often I stop to watch videos on social media but recently one particular video caught my eye. (Watch it here) I was intrigued with this sweet two-year-old girl’s cooking show as she baked a cake with her momma. I watched this video in context of that conversation with my friend and her comment, “God, let’s bake cookies!”  Two things came to mind. One, her mother has the patience of a saint. Two, what a joy it must be for the Father, our Creator, to bake and create “cookies” (or cake) with His children.

The little baker’s sweet disposition was evident in her kind words and gestures as she dumped ingredients together. She was excited and took pride in her work. She wasn’t concerned with perfection but rather in being present, engaged and giving her all to the task at hand. This young lady wasn’t afraid to ask for help, or make a mess. Her attitude and heart were so precious.

It’s all in the journey, the experience, the relationship – not the product or end result. As a teacher, I get to ‘bake cookies with God’ and then share the batch, a Sunday school lesson, with my class. It’s never perfect, and much like my cooking, lessons rarely ‘taste’ the same. I’ve made some messes too.

One of the sweetest parts of this young bakers’ video came when she enjoyed it. She took a bite of that cake, piled with sprinkles, and truly marveled at the end result. It wasn’t perfect by some standards, but she thought it was. Some days we may not “bake cookies with God,” but rather sit and enjoy them. Soak in His goodness and revel in His complexities, savoring every bite of His word.

How do you approach your day with God? Your quiet time? Is it a box to be checked, something you have to do? Or is it based on relationship with God, something you get to do? Are you holding back in regards to what He may be asking of you for fear of making messes or coming short of perfection?

What would it be like to approach Him with a willing heart, faith like a child, and step into the “kitchen” each morning and expectantly request, “God, let’s bake cookies!” I have a feeling He would look at our floured faces, vanilla dripping forearms, globs of batter strewn about, and with a smile say, “It’s perfect.”

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Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash
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Dream Small

The theme of ‘small’ has been surrounding me for the past several months. This week I simply cannot escape it, so now you get to join in the contemplation. I was talking with a sister-in-Christ a few months back, how it’s often the small things that make big impact. It’s the tiny pieces of gravel that make up our driveway and the road home taking us to and fro. One piece of gravel doesn’t seem to make a big difference, but together they become a force to be reckoned with.

In 1888, a surveyor marked the headwaters for the fourth longest river in the world, the Missouri River.[1] It began at a spring in Montana. A spring. One small spring kept flowing, converging with small rivers along the way to create something that would have huge impact within the United States and our world. This river would become a boundary for states, a source for great discovery, and an avenue for commerce. That one small spring would ultimately lead to being a part of a much bigger picture, an ocean.

So often, the culture of today focuses on the big. It’s the latest trend going viral, big houses, big churches, big followings. And I’m not saying all of that is bad. However, we often lose sight and forget that so much of the big and amazing things are first made up, with the small. Some of the moments carrying the most impact, when dissected, began small.

Small can be little bits of love we show and share with others, through a smile or holding a door. The ten or fifteen minutes in the morning which partner us with Jesus, and a much bigger story. These are moments which join Him and pave the way for the love of Christ to flow through us throughout the day.

Small acts of love and mercy, for myself and others, over time make an impactful difference. Those small moments also help me to practice for the larger, more demanding opportunities for practicing grace. Each moment doesn’t feel as if it will ever make a difference, but after a while – you have a gravel driveway, and then a road connecting your house to mine. Then, we can actually get somewhere.

I’m all in for dreaming big, but God is moving my heart to focus on what is right in front of me in the present. Small pieces together, consistently practiced, create the dream, impact, and relationship. For me, living focused on the Big dream usually means living in the future, or the past. (As in it’s already happened, too late.) I’d rather live in the present, choosing to show-up and be connected. Being faithful with the small things, what I have in front of me, seems to be those pieces of gravel. The small bits often seem mundane, but they provide opportunity to practice being grateful in the present. And that is powerful.

I had a moment in church this past Sunday when my Pastor played Josh Wilson’s song, Dream Small, at the close of service. With all these frequently surfacing thoughts over the past few months, I became overwhelmed with all that the Holy Spirit has been whispering to my heart.

Along with myself, can I challenge you? Take a listen to Josh’s song, be encouraged, read Matthew 25:14-30, and really focus on some small things over the coming days? When you read that piece of scripture, it’s not about how much they start and end with, it’s being faithful with what is right in front of them. Small things, with a heart of gratitude.

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“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:23 (ESV)  Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri_River

Belonging

Growing up is hard. Heck, being an adult is hard! My daughter has wrestled her way from Kindergarten to third grade, navigating the social bits of being a young lady. Girls can be so mean. As a mom, it’s hard to coach from the sidelines – especially when it’s similar to what you experienced. My heart breaks, knowing it’s likely she may wrestle with these same struggles for years to come, if not a lifetime. Recently we’ve talked about how God makes us all unique, and it’s hard to fit in when we’re all meant to stand out, being uniquely accepted in love together.

We want so desperately to fit in, to belong. Yet with the ‘fitting in’ to one group, we’re excluded from another. This is something I’ve struggled with since I was old enough to have an awareness about it. I’m guessing you have too. It’s not been until my mid-thirties that things started to fit within me. Oh, there have been inklings all along, but it felt a bit fuzzy and incomplete. Some days, it still does.

This week I began reading Brené Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness. I love the work she’s doing. I’m not deep into the pages yet, but have already had so many ‘YES!’ moments. And one really big Ah-ha. One of those moments came when Brené brought attention to a quote from an interview with Maya Angelou done on public television with Bill Moyers, 1973.

“You are only free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.” – Maya Angelou

Yes. That quote may be hard to wrap your head around, but for me it spoke truth. Our daughter had been struggling with her enjoyment of space, friends thought she was weird for it and excluded her. But should she abandon that desire, based on reasons and opinions other than her own? That’s a high price. We are meant to hold tight to those dreams and desires placed within us upon our creation.

God has created each of us with a necessary and innate sense to belong to something more than ourselves, while being who He created us to be. It’s part of what causes us to seek Him. Yet, we sell out to the world around us in order to fit in and belong. We are each unique; therefore, we will never fit perfectly into anything other than the creation we are meant to be. We are meant to be unique and authentic, placed on the Creator’s timeline and fulfilling a unique purpose, designed specifically for each creation (you and me) – thus fitting perfectly. Denying who I am – who I BE – is denying the Creator of His creation. It’s living a life that’s not congruent or authentic to that which is within.

Being that which we are created for is imperative to ourselves, those around us, and to the Lord. He leads by example with His first direct revelation of himself in Exodus 3:14 as he appears to Moses in the burning bush, calling Moses forth to be his purpose. “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.” That ‘I AM’ can be translated from the Hebrew, I BE who I BE.

I believe striving ceases when we rest in our real and authentic self, a true reflection of the Creator’s Creation. I’m not sure about you, but I want to be that – a true reflection. Striving tends to wear me out, gets me turned around, and unhappy. I’d rather be happy, and rest in my Creator. Exploring who I am as a reflection of the Creator will take a lifetime, and I’m okay with that process.

I am a complete and powerful woman, made of God’s love. How about you?

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Photo by Brina Blum on Unsplash 

A Canyon Creation

Recently, my family had the opportunity to take a family vacation and enjoy some summer before our u-pick berry farm opens for the season.  It was fabulous to get away, and it’s been hard to re-adjust now that we’re home.  We visited 4 national parks in nine days; camped, hiked, laughed over a camp fire and spent plenty of time in a car together.  The memories are those which will be carried with us forever, with pictures to prove it. 

One of the things I really wanted to do on our visit to the Grand Canyon was to witness a sunrise, all by myself, and read God’s word.  However, that desire of my heart was doubly blessed because not only did I get my sunrise, but one evening the four of us enjoyed a sunset together.  Wrapped in blankets, taking in the dusky sunset and changing light along the Canyon walls.  As evening set in and the sun was down, we headed back to our little cabin in the woods and enjoyed a camp fire with hot chocolate and watched the stars come out. 

The next morning, I crawled out of bed around 4:30 in the morning and drove to the same point we had watched the sunset the night before.  Not knowing exactly where to start reading, I thought what better than to read the creation story, or at least the part in Genesis 1.  It was perfect as the first early light of day flooded the canyon.

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.  And God saw that it was good.  And God separated the light from darkness.  God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.  And there was evening and there was morning on the first day.” (Genesis 1:3-5 ESV)

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Trail marker along the Grand Canyon

We know that the canyon was carved by water and time and all kinds of other geological factors. (Honestly, it’s kinda hard to wrap my mind around.) But to sit there and bear witness to the majestic land before me, knowing that it was the Creator’s hand which carved the canyon long before I ever took a breath, the scriptures held a fresh understanding for me. 

“And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’  And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse.  And it was so.  And God called the expanse Heaven.  And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.” (Genesis 1:6-8 ESV)

Sitting there, reading, it dawned on me that the same Creator that carved the canyon before me, created me (and you).  The same power, the same love, the same patience, the same creativity.   His hand is always at work, molding and shaping us with an unchanging and unwavering love.  The Holy Spirit is always carving us, like the river through the Canyon, to be more in likeness with the Creator.  Sometimes, the molding feels like a tidal wave flood, while others times it’s more like a gentle seep spring within.  But always at work, with a steadfast love.    

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Genesis 1

As I sat there, taking in all of the grandeur of the Canyon, I thought about how differently God sees us compared to how we see ourselves.  In His eyes, we are clothed in garments of salvation with a robe of righteousness.  We are a royal diadem and crown of beauty in the LORD’s hand.  And, just as we delight and rejoice at the sight and creation of the Grand Canyon, so the LORD delights and rejoices over me (and you).  (Isaiah 61-62)

Oh, that I would be able to know and live as He has created me, an expression of His steadfast love.  To be able to see, and treat, others (and myself) as His majestic and marvelous creations.  For me, it is a new view of His heavenly creations.  I’m so grateful for the time at the Canyon with my family, and with the Lord.  And I’m grateful for the new opportunity and awareness to experience what His steadfast (and majestic) love is like.