A Baby Changes Everything

Christmastime is my favorite. I love the lights, the food, the spirit of giving, and the togetherness the season brings. One of my most favorite things this time of year is listening to Christmas music. I use “this time of year” very loosely; Addison and I have been listening to Christmas music since…September. Listening to Christmas music really helps me to reflect and prepare my heart for the true meaning of the holiday: Jesus, our Messiah. 

I’ll admit that last Christmas, I was in a bit of a fog, what with a new baby and still trying to learn the whole mom thing. But this year, I’ve been much more intentional and present in enjoying the season and making memories, particularly with Addison. In fact, I was emotional at the Plainview Christmas parade, seeing the joy on that sweet face and the sparkle in those precious eyes. I didn’t expect the tears, but I let them come, and I said a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessing she is to my life. 

I think back to Christmas 2018 or even Christmas 2017, and I’m reminded of the song “A Baby Changes Everything.” My top-half-only decorated tree and my Amazon shopping cart are proof. And you know, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Addison is a gift from God. She’s changed my life in every possible way, but the changes have brought about blessing, growth, and fulfillment. 

I’ve soaked up all the time with Addison I can manage, and this season, my thoughts have gone to Mary, mother of Jesus. She felt the same level of love for her Son as I do for my daughter; yet her baby changed everything—for the world. The significance of her baby’s birth—the birth of Jesus Christ—is for much more than just Christmastime. A friend said something the other day that speaks directly to this: a thousand times in history a baby has become a king to rule a nation; only one time has a king become a baby to save all nations. That’s powerful, friends. 

The power in that truth, in fact, overwhelms me with gratitude for the gift of grace and salvation I could never earn and don’t deserve, but through His Righteousness, can accept and walk in. Philippians 4:8 says, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” He was always God’s plan for our salvation. Plan A. God didn’t need plan B. He didn’t send His Son as a last resort. Jesus and his birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection were always God’s plan for us, His children. 

As I sat listening to my Christmas music playlist a few days ago, I was struck by the fact that as we celebrate the birth of Jesus during this time of year, we should also celebrate the gift of salvation by grace through faith, the tremendous sacrifice of death on the cross, and the triumph and power of a risen Savior. The significance of His birth is much more than Christmas (Romans 1:3-4). Addison has changed my life in ways I never expected, and certainly, Jesus changed Mary’s life, too. But truly, a baby—especially this baby—changed EVERYTHING, and for that, we can only praise the Father and give thanks for His indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15). 

I love this season. I love family traditions. I love Christmas music and lights on the tree. But more than anything, I love the reality of salvation and a new life in Christ the picture of a baby who changed everything brings. 

My whole life has turned around

I was lost but now I’m found 

A baby changes everything. 

Merry CHRISTmas!

We would like to thank Ashley Edlin for writing this post!

O Come Let Us Adore Him

Christmas is just around the corner!  For some, that can strike a chord of sheer terror. There is a relatively new tradition that I never had to deal with: “Elf on a shelf.” What sadist came up with this? I have neither the creativity nor the time to devote to elf shenanigans. I know that some of you out there love it, and I think that’s great! During this season, there’s always so much to do, like cooking, decorating, shopping, and finding the right thing to wear to the Christmas parties you don’t want to go to.

I always wanted everything to be just right. Not perfect, but just right. I was happy with all those crazy Christmas whirlwind times, but looking back, do you know what my biggest regret is? No, not the perfect sugar cookie recipe. Not the perfect gift for my mother in law. The biggest regret is that I didn’t spend more time with my kids at the feet of Jesus.

In the end, that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?

It no longer matters whether my kids got all 30 things on their list, but it does matter that they love our precious Lord and Savior and have accepted Jesus as Lord of their lives.  

This Christmas season, take some time to love on your family and experience God’s peace and love. Psalm 95:6 says “Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” Let us adore Him!  Let us worship Him! Let us focus on the real reason for the season!

By the way, I really do have the perfect sugar cookie recipe! Enjoy!

Sugar Cookies

1 cup margarine              2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup sugar                       1 tsp vanilla

1 large egg.                       2 ¾ cups flour

Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with electric mixer. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add baking powder and flour 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Do not chill dough. Divide dough in half, rolling into 2 balls. On a floured surface, roll each ball in a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dip cutters in flour before each use. Bake 6-7 minutes or until light brown.

Icing:

1/3 cup cold milk

¼ cup melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups of powdered sugar

Mix all together. Add more milk if too thick, more powdered sugar if too thin.

Merry Christmas!

We would like to thank Trina Lewis for writing this post!

Summertime Craft Idea

If you are like me, you have a little extra time on your hands in the summer. This is the time to clean out closets, finish up a project you’ve been working on, and hopefully, carve out a little time to do the things you WANT to do! One of the things I enjoy doing during the summer is crafts. I’m not a crafty person by nature, but thanks to Pinterest and other great sites, even I can look a little creative. One craft I have enjoyed lately is STAMPED BOOKS!

Where to begin

You begin by collecting books. I look for paperback books at garage sales, resale shops, and most recently, at our library’s book sale. I was able to fill a grocery sack full of used books and it only cost $1 per sack. You want to look for books that are around 1″ thick. It doesn’t matter what shape the cover is in because you are going to tear them off anyway. The other supplies you will need include stamps and a stamp pad, plus jute or ribbon.

Let’s get started

Step 1: Carefully tear off the front and back cover, plus the spine of the book. These actually come off very easily, but if part of the cover gets stuck on the spine, you can use a razor blade or knife to carefully scrape it off. You might also want to tear off a few pages of the book until you get to a page with very few words. I like to use the title page or the dedication page because it is mostly a white page.

Step 2: Decide what you are going to write. You probably need to write it on a scratch pad for practice.

Step 3: Get the stamps lined up. I start going from right to left so I basically stamp the word backward, just so that I know that I have plenty of room and the word will end at the end of the book spine.

Step 4: When stamping, make sure you don’t blot the ink heavily or you’ll make a mess on your stamp. I am careful about getting too much ink on the stamp, but don’t worry about being perfect. This isn’t about perfect. Imperfections just add character to the books.

Step 5: When you are finished stamping all of your letters, you can use a ultra fine point sharpie to touch up any areas that didn’t stamp well.

Step 6: Wrap your books in a cute ribbon to match your decor. For the 4thof July, I wanted to make some stamped books to add to my décor. All I did was find a quote I liked and then added some ribbon to complete it. You can add a flower, greenery or a cute gift tag to the ribbon to make it even more personal.

Honestly, this is one of the easiest craft projects you can do. It took longer to gather the supplies than it did to create the finished product. Other varieties of this project include using hardback books and painting the cover with chalk paint. If you don’t want to ruin the book, you can always cover with some paper of your choice and then proceed with the stamping as mentioned above. 

Use your books to add a fun accessory to your desk at work or display it on a bookshelf in your home. Whether you make these books for yourself or for a friend, it will add a fun touch to your decor.

Have fun being creative and remember that FREEDOM is never FREE! However, FREEDOM in CHRIST is a gift to those who will accept it! Happy 4thof July! 

We would like to thank Vickie Young for writing this post!

Unwrapping Your Spiritual Gifts

December is an exciting time of year. The anticipation of Christmas morning: opening gifts, fellowship with family, singing carols…When I was a little girl, I knew Christmas was coming soon the day that the Sears catalog arrived in the mail! I would sit for hours checking the items that I wanted to add to my Christmas wish list:

  • A new baby doll ✅
  • A new pair of skates ✅
  • A new bicycle ✅
  • A new pair of pajamas ✅

Spiritual Gifts

Fast forward many years later and my wishes have changed. 

What I’ve been thinking about lately are spiritual gifts. I find myself “checking off” my wish list in the Bible just like I did as a little girl with the Sears catalog:

  • The gift of wisdom  ✅
  • The gift of prophesy ✅
  • The gift of healing ✅
  • The gift of tongues ✅

Lessons learned

To begin with, all gifts that I check are not gifts that I receive. As a little girl, I had a long list of wishes, but didn’t always get what I had on my list. My parents loved me so much and wanted to give me good gifts. My parents would’ve never given me a gift that I wasn’t ready to receive. For example, they would’ve never given me a bicycle if I hadn’t learned to ride a tricycle. Or they would not give me a new car until I was responsible enough to use it correctly.

Each child in my family received different gifts. My parents didn’t give me the same gifts as they gave to my brother and sister. They were older than me and had different desires than me. My parents knew that I didn’t want a football and they knew my brother wouldn’t appreciate a Barbie. They were good, good parents and gave us appropriate gifts because they loved us. They got to decide what was best for each of their children!

Just like my parents, God loves me and wants to give me good gifts. He knows when I’m ready to receive certain gifts and even though I have them “checked”, He decides when I am ready to receive them. Maybe I’m ready to receive the gift of wisdom, but maybe I’m not ready to receive the gift of prophecy. Does He love me any less because He doesn’t give me the gift of prophecy? Absolutely not! I have a friend who has received the gift of tongues. Does he love her more? Is she a “better Christian” than me because she received that gift and I didn’t? NO! God is a good, good Father who knows what gifts we need in order to grow His kingdom.

1 Corinthians 12:11 says that “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one, just as He determines.” God gets to decide when I’m ready to receive an extra gift!

Be content in all things

As a little girl, I don’t remember a time when I woke up on Christmas morning and was disappointed because I didn’t receive a certain gift that I had checked off in the catalog. I was content with the gifts that I was blessed with.

I am content with the gifts that God has given me through the Holy Spirit. Do I want more? YES! However, I trust Him to give me the gifts when He says I’m ready for them!  Psalm 37:3-4 says to “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Using my gifts for others

I remember one particular Christmas, I received an Easy-Bake Oven. I was so excited to use that gift to “bless” others. My dad ate lots of tiny brownies that I made using this amazing Christmas gift! It was a gift that kept on giving!

God gives us spiritual gifts, but they are not meant to be consumed on ourselves. As we receive, we give it away and then more is given to us. When I feel like I’m not doing enough with my gift, I need to step back and reflect on how God is using my gifts to grow His kingdom.

Trusting that your gifts are good

I never doubted that my parents would give me good gifts! Although they threatened telling Santa to put coal in my stocking when I misbehaved, deep down I knew that I would get good gifts for Christmas. You can trust God to give you good gifts as well!

Luke 11:11-13 says, “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Merry CHRISTmas!

You can trust God, our good, good Father, to give you gifts that you need to receive in His time. I pray that during this holiday season, you unwrap your gifts and receive your spiritual blessings with the same kind of excitement as receiving the Sears Christmas catalog in the mail!

Be Blessed.

We would like to thank Vickie Young for writing this post!

Seen & Heard

Seen & Heard

This week we asked Kendra Huckabee of the Lubbock Campus to share a little bit of how she loves her family well during the Valentine’s Day holiday.

This past weekend we took a day trip to Clovis, NM, of all places, to take our boys to a traveling dinosaur event called Jurassic Quest. Think robotic dinosaur museum (or circus…whichever you prefer). Throughout the entire planning process, buying the overpriced tickets, and honestly, even on the drive there I kept thinking:

“Why in the world are we doing this?”
“This better be worth it!”
“The things we do for our kids…”.
But seeing my 3 ½-year-old dinosaur fanatic’s face light up at every turn immediately made me glad that we chose to take the time to do something he loves. Loving my family is one of the most important jobs I have. Although it has taken me some time, learning to show love to each member of my family in a way that speaks to them individually and makes them feel seen and known is the best way to do it.
John 13:34 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
Jesus gave us the perfect example of how to love people. It’s so cool to me how when Jesus healed people, had an encounter with someone, or spoke into someone’s life it was different every time. He didn’t have a “How to Love People” checklist that he followed. He simply knew them and loved them in a way that was specifically meant for them.

kendrahuckabeefeb

He doesn’t care the cost, time, or distance it takes to show his love towards us.
I would have much rather stayed home this weekend in my pajamas drinking endless cups of coffee than standing in the cold watching my son move dirt around with a paintbrush to uncover a “fossil”, but I would have robbed myself of a chance to show love and my son of a chance to receive it.
I’m so thankful that I chose to move my SELF out of the way this weekend so that we could shower our son with love in a way that spoke to his little dino-loving heart.
When it comes to Valentine’s Day, chocolate and teddy bears have never really been my thing, but loving my people is! My goal this Valentines, and every day, is to take the opportunity to speak my family’s love language. I pray that you, too, will take the time to love your family in ways that make them feel seen and known. Whether it’s something simple like their favorite candy, or a random trip to another state to see robotic dinosaurs, learn what and how they love and show them love in that way.

Some things that have helped me learn how to love my family:

The 5 Love Languages books by Gary Chapman
DISC personality test
Simply spending time with them

 

This post was written by Kendra Huckabee from our Lubbock Campus. To learn more about her, follow this link.

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Becca Wilhite)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

Christmastime is full of surprises.  Usually they’re in the form of excited children opening long-awaited gifts, or a visit from a far-away loved one. Almost exactly 10 years ago, my husband James and I got a not-so-great surprise, but it led to one of the most memorable Christmases we’ve had together as a couple.

To make a very long story short, a trip to the local doctor led to a transfer to the Lubbock emergency room.  Things quickly became more serious and resulted in emergency open-heart surgery for my then-28-year-old husband.  All went well with the surgery.  I can remember going to Wal-Mart for some necessity and wanting to tell everyone I saw how good God was, and that my husband was going to be ok! But a hiccup with our insurance company left us stuck in the hospital.  For Christmas.

So what do you do?  We had no choice but to make the most of it!  I had my guitar, and James was really feeling pretty good, considering all he had just been through.  We went to visit an older gentleman on a different floor whom we had befriended.  He was stuck for Christmas as well, so we thought maybe he could use some company.  We ended up spending the evening singing Christmas carols and worship songs that we knew—and surprisingly to us, he knew all the same songs we did!  It was simple.  There were no gifts exchanged.  And yet somehow, the true spirit of Christmas was very much alive and well in that hospital room.

My prayer for all of us is that the peace and love of Emmanuel—God with us—would be evident in our hearts this Christmas, no matter where we spend it.  Merry Christmas!

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Easy Pecan Pie (and yummy!)

1 Pillsbury roll-out crust
1 cup pecans
1 cup light Karo syrup
½ cup sugar
½ stick butter
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients together, pour into crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.

For a perfect crust, cover the edges with foil until the last 10 minutes.

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Becca Wilhite is a worship leader at the HCF Plainview campus, and coordinates many of the Guest Experience teams at Harvest. She is the wife of James and mom to Chord, Paisley, and Sam.

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Amber Curry)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

November and December are my favorite months of the year. They bring so many things our way…the end of our harvest season and with that, gratefulness for God’s provision. Cooler weather and hot chai tea from the Broadway Brew. Pulling out the Christmas decorations and sitting by a crackling fire. Celebrating the birth of our Savior.

One other thing I LOVE about this season is getting to spend lots of time in my kitchen. My happy place. It brings me so much joy to cook for my precious family. I come from and now belong to a family full of incredible cooks. When I think back on my holiday memories, these women come to mind. And in those memories are the dishes they are known for. Granny Smith’s AMAZING buttermilk chess pie. Grandmommy’s famous chicken goulash and dressing. (Don’t let “goulash” keep you away, that dish is heaven!) California Grammy’s rich and creamy chocolate delight. Granny Curry’s buttery pound cake. My mom’s stacked beef enchiladas with a fried egg on top. My mother-in-law’s “to die for” scalloped potatoes. Oh my, this is making me hungry!

These women and these dishes are part of my most cherished holiday memories, and since I’ve been married, I’ve been searching for the recipe that one day I might be known for. The recipe everyone secretly hopes I bring to all the family gatherings. The recipe that my grandchildren will one day pass down to their children and be a part of Curry holidays long after I’m gone.

And y’all, six years of searching and I’m pretty sure I’ve found it! The BEST homemade rolls you’ll ever eat and they are surprisingly easy to make. They are heavenly and Melt. In. Your. Mouth. I’ve made them for three holiday events now and everyone loves them. My nephew Brett eats at least 10, no joke.

Do your taste buds a favor and make these rolls! Your family will thank you, I promise. Blessings from my table to yours, and I hope that you create many fun and lasting memories this holiday season.

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The BEST Potato Rolls

INGREDIENTS:
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Sticks (3/4 Cup) Land O’Lakes Unsalted Butter
3 Cups Scalded Milk* instructions below
1 Cup Potato Flakes
1 Tablespoon Salt
4 Eggs
1 Tablespoon Instant Yeast or 2 Tablespoons Regular Yeast (I use instant)
6 1/2 Cups Flour
*1/3 cup additional butter, softened

DIRECTIONS:
Heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat and add the milk. Cook until the edges begin to foam and froth, but do not allow it to boil. There will be a little layer of the milk “skin” on top. Remove from heat and add the sugar, butter, potato flakes and salt. Stir thoroughly and allow to cool to lukewarm.

Add the yeast, stir and then add the eggs, stirring until they are mixed in.
Place the flour in a large bowl. Pour the milk mixture in and stir until the dough has come together, but is still soft. This is not like a bread dough. It is a slightly sticky dough.

Cover the bowl with a towel or saran wrap. Let dough rise for one hour. Push down and divide dough into 2 parts.

Roll out one portion at a time to 1/2″ thick and butter 1/2 of dough with a few pats of butter. Fold the unbuttered dough over the buttered dough and press to seal. Cut into 1″ wide strips. Pick up one strip at a time and tie into knots. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and cover with a towel. Let rise for 1-2 hours more or until doubled in size.

Bake at 350 until golden brown (14-20 min)

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Amber Curry is the Administrative Assistant to the Executive Pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship. She’s married to her favorite farmer, Bryan, and they have adorable twin boys, Elliott and Samuel.