Thursday, February 28, 2008

Showing Love

Four-year-old Mary Ashley is my most affectionate child. Quick to offer hugs and kisses, she delights in finding new ways to show love to our family. Even when scolded, her anger quickly fades and she is eager to snuggle. "I love you" comes easily, and words of encouragement flow freely.

Mary Ashley's desire to give and receive love colors her day. On her way to preschool, she tells her daddy the ups and downs of life on the playground. Her enthusiasm for school rises and falls based on who held her hand that day. When I picked her up recently, she told me, "Mommy, I only got two hugs today, and that is just not enough!"

Even at her tender age, Mary Ashley recognizes her need for affection. She is not alone. We all need love to thrive, but our paths cross daily with many who are barely surviving. John 13:35 reminds us, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (NASB). As Christians, our acts of kindness can help people of the world feel embraced by the love of God. A sincere compliment might be the first word of praise a co-worker has heard all day. A hug can remind a widow that she is not alone. Even something as simple as removing shopping carts from a handicapped parking space shows love to people we do not even know.

I hope Mary Ashley's heart will always be so full. As she matures in her understanding of God's love for her, her love for others will grow as she sees His heart for the world. After all, Jesus loved us enough to spread His arms on the cross. And that is a hug that will always be enough.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Out with the Girls

Last weekend offered a long-awaited respite for me and four other girlfriends. Allison, Keri, Lara, Carrie and I spent the weekend at the beach. Between us, we left jobs, housework, husbands and a dozen children for some fun in the sun. We talked and played games into the night, and packed our days exploring the Gulf Coast. We watched the waves crash against the shore, sampled delicious seafood and shopped. And shopped and shopped!

As much fun as we packed into the trip, still we missed our families. Familiar sites made us long for our children, and we wondered how our husbands were faring back home without our help. The ever-present Mommy Guilt threatened to seep in and keep us from enjoying our vacation to the fullest.

Our conflicting emotions brought to mind Mark 6:30-32. This passage tells us the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all they had done and taught. Verses 31-32 say, "And He said to them, 'Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.' For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves" (NKJV).

The first thing that strikes me about this passage is that the apostles' demands left them with no time to eat. Don't we mothers relate to that? Our responsibilities at home or in the workplace can leave us feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Jesus' gentle urging to step away from the busyness calls to me. It is comforting to realize that God cares for our bodies, minds and souls.

So what can we learn from the apostles in this passage? First, they took time away. They stepped away from their responsibilities to go to a quiet place. Sometimes we need a break, too. A little time of solitude can relieve stress and restore our peace. Second, the apostles went away by themselves, but they were not alone. They enjoyed fellowship with each other in the boat. We too can gain strength and encouragement from Christian friends. Going out for coffee, enrolling in a class or even taking a trip together renews our joy. And third, the apostles went away with Jesus. Even when we step away from normal life, we should not step away from God. In fact, our time away will be blessed when we draw closer to Him. Times spent studying God's Word and praying together will fortify us for the responsibilities that await our return.

Mark 6:30-32 is such a brief passage, but it teaches us so much about God's love for us. If we look at the broader context of that chapter, we can consider the events that preceded and followed the apostles' retreat. In the verses preceding, we learn that John the Baptist was beheaded. As the apostles grieved the gruesome death of their friend, some may have feared for their own lives. What a tumultuous, frightening time! Then in the verses following the apostles' excursion, we read about their teaching the multitudes and feeding the 5,000. What an amazing experience! And linking these two major events, we see Jesus calling the apostles away for quiet time with Him. How beautiful it is to realize that the apostles stepped away from a time of great stress and returned ready for a time of great service.

So when we step away from everyday life, let's savor the time to rest, reflect and release. Time out with the girls might be just what we need to prepare us for greater service. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). And how blessed we are to share this Christian walk arm in arm with godly friends.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Little Lovelier

Thank you to Teale for designing my new header. You can visit her at teale's digi-designs . She is personable, professional and patient. And very creative!

I also appreciate my dear friend Allison for allowing me to use her photo for the header. She shot the floral arrangement at my house for the Jan./Feb. 2008 issue of Christian Woman. You can see more of her great photography on her blog, Sweeter and the Bubbas.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sweets for the Sweet

If you are looking for an easy dessert with universal appeal, this might be just your cup of chocolate. I discovered this easy recipe for cookie cups a few years ago in Southern Lady, and it is a family favorite. Who can resist a warm, fresh-baked cookie topped with creamy ice cream and drizzled with syrup? This dessert is quick to put together because you use prepared cookie dough. The flavor combinations you could use for this cookie cup dessert are infinite. Sugar cookies with raspberry sherbet and fresh berries. Peanut butter cookies with chocolate ice cream. White chocolate chunk cookies with coffee ice cream. At our house we love chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream so much that we stick with this classic flavor every time.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease a muffin pan. One regular-size tube of cookie dough should yield at least 6 cookie cups. Cut dough into slices about 2 inches thick, and push cookie dough into each muffin cup. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cookies look golden brown. Remove the muffin pan from the oven, and gently tap the bottom of the pan on your kitchen counter. This will cause the center of the cookie cup to deflate, leaving a perfect spot for a scoop of ice cream. Allow the cookie cups to cool for a few minutes before easing them out of the pan with a fork. Top each cookie cup with a scoop of ice cream, then drizzles of chocolate and caramel syrup. Yum! Leftovers, should you have any, can be wrapped in foil or kept in an airtight container for several days.

Photo by Nathan Prichard

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Monday, February 18, 2008

You're Invited ...

I hope you will enjoy sharing these memories of Emma's second birthday. Emma's fun personality inspired a whimsical party, and we enjoyed celebrating this milestone with family. Special thanks to my father, Bob Prichard, and brother, Nathan Prichard, for photographing our Tea for 2. They captured the day beautifully!

Please Come to Emma's Sweet Shoppe
Where She's Serving Tea for 2,
And the Sweetest Treat of All
Will Be Spending Time with You!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Tea Time Treats

Today's Special at Emma's Sweet Shoppe:

Chocolate Chip Scones with Raspberry Preserves and Almond Cream

Creamy Tomato Soup with Sourdough Croutons

Chicken Salad Croissants, PB&J "Suckers," Roast Beef Pinwheel and Sundried Tomato Pinwheel "Lollipops," Mini Quiche "Cupcakes"

Candied Grapes, Fresh Raspberries and Strawberries, Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, Macaroons, Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries, Fruit Tarts

Strawberry Cake with Buttercream Icing

English Breakfast Hot Tea

Photos by Nathan Prichard

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How I Look?

Emma loves to ask us, "How I look?" She was so proud to show everyone her big-girl styled hair, and she felt like a true princess in the dress-up accessories from Uncle Nathan and Aunt Shana.

Photos by Nathan Prichard

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Emma's Birthday Wish

When we asked Emma what she wanted for her birthday, she said, "Kek! Kek!" She squealed with delight when she saw her teapot cake. Throughout the party, she sampled cookies, candy and cake. It seemed she had a different sweet treat each time I saw her. When I finally carried her upstairs for bed and asked her if she had fun being the birthday girl, she thought about her festive day for a moment, then said, "I wan' kek! I wan' kek!"

Photos by Nathan Prichard

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Happy Family

Pretty Aunt Shana

Aunt Jennifer and Baby Caitlin

Uncle David shooting Uncle Nathan shooting Uncle David shooting ...

Princess Caitlin with three loyal subjects

Photos by Nathan Prichard

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Candy Land

Photos by Nathan Prichard

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It's Raining Candy

Our kitchen chandelier got a sweet treatment. The first two photos were taken by my father, Bob Prichard, and the second two were taken by my brother, Nathan.

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Do Me a Favor

Party favors included swirl suckers, jellybeans, a box of tea and a photo of Emma. Goodie bags full of leftover teatime treats will bring back sweet memories of Tea for 2 at Emma's Sweet Shoppe.

Photos by Nathan Prichard; Photo of Emma by Sally Kent

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Tables for 2

Photos by Nathan Prichard

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Sweet Family

Carson holding Caitlin

Sweet Christian

Meme and Caitlin

Baby Caitlin, 10 weeks old, ready to attend her second tea party!

Photos by Bob Prichard
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Baby Love

"Wow, Car-Car, your baby doll looks so real!"

Photos by Bob Prichard

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