Examples of God’s Hospitality in the Bible – How Food Reveals God’s Heart

Examples of God’s Hospitality in the Bible – How Food Reveals God’s Heart

Today we are going to see a few examples of God’s hospitality in the Bible and be inspired by the King himself. But first, I want you to imagine yourself in a small village in Germany. It’s a cold evening and you drive up the driveway to an old foreign castle. As the car parks, you can see glimmers of light dancing in some of the lower windows.
 
You exit your vehicle and remove your luggage from the trunk and think to yourself, “So this will be my new home?”
 
As you continue towards the old doors, you wonder who is in there? What are the people like? What do these next months have in store for you? There is an uneasy feeling in your stomach because of all the unknowns.
 
Reaching the ornate front doors, you push the ancient iron knob to open and cross the threshold. The moment you set foot within the entrance delicious fragrances of roast poultry, steaming hot vegetables and fresh bread greet and envelope you.  Immediately, your mouth begins to water.
 
You keep walking through a great big doorway into a giant dining area full of candles and long tables. All the people you were wondering about are clustered in different little groups around the room and around the table. Many of them there for the first time, and equally nervous as yourself.
 
The host stands and greets everyone and invites you all to sit. Multiple people are seen dashing in and out of the kitchen, until finally large platters of chicken and duck, vegetables, bread and various salads are brought in and set on the table before you. The tables are decorated with wild flowers, beautifully folded napkins, candles and small golden crowns. Your senses are overwhelmed, but you feel generally very welcome, excited and hungry.
 
 
How would you feel if you were welcomed as a guest of honour to this meal?
I venture to say that if you’re anything like me, you would probably have loved to be there.
 
 

Inspired by the King

Years ago, my husband and I headed up the team who organized this dinner as a “Feast for Sons and Daughters of the King”.
 
Our whole concept and idea was that each person arriving, was the son or daughter of the King of Kings, and what better way to welcome and greet them by an abundant, royal feast? The people arriving were students of the DTS (Discipleship Training School) we were staffing with Youth with a Mission.
 
 
 
There was a lot of work involved and money spent in preparing this one meal, but it was well worth it and that experience is burned into my memory. As I was preparing all the food, I really felt the heart of God for each one of the new students who were to arrive.
God was excited. He was so happy that they would just come and be with him. He was delighted that they stopped whatever they were doing in the lives at that moment, to be intentional about their relationship with him. Each of these students of all different ages and ethnicity had decided to commit to six months of focused time on God. And God honours that.
 
 
Why did we decide to create an opulent feast you may ask? Why all the effort, time, and money? Perhaps we could have better spent that money.
 
 
Well we were convinced God loves to party and here’s why:
 
 

1. We know that we are all sons and daughters of the King and he wants good for us.

 

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
In fact, even if we are the worst children ever. He rejoices so much when one of his children returns to him that he throws a party.
We see this all over Luke 15 with the Parable of the Prodigal Son, The Parable of the Lost Coin, and The Parable of the Lost Sheep.

2. God uses food as a tasty teaching technique.

If you’re not convinced that God loves partying in the three above stories, you should check out how much celebrating happened in the Old Testament.
Did you know that God commanded people to celebrate these SEVEN feasts? It’s almost as if he is adamant that people just take a break from their year to celebrate that God has it covered and always will have it covered! 
That’s seven feasts a year that God created for his people to meet and celebrate with him, to learn about him and experience him.
 
 

In the NT we see that Jesus often uses food as a means to teach. One example is the initiation of the Lord’s Supper in Matthew 26:26-28

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.
This is my blood of thecovenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

 

3. Feeding people shows love. It is an action louder than words.

Food gives opportunity to rest,  reflect, and restrengthen. Even Jesus provided the great practical need of food for thousands of people. I wonder if his teachings were digested better on a full and content stomach?   This verse in Psalm 36: 5-9 reminds us of how God shows love and goodness to his people (and animals) by providing for them. I love the imagery used in this verse of God the refuge who gives us the feast of his abundance and our complete satisfaction and delight.

 Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.
 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
 They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.
 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

4. Feasting is a prophetic picture of the future

Again and again in the Old Testament we get glimpses into what God has prepared for his people in the future. And I’ll let you know now it doesn’t have anything to do with us floating on clouds and playing harps.

 We will be enjoying the best dang food and wine ever that will be literally served by God himself.

Isaiah 25:6

The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine.

Luke 14:15

When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

Revelation 19:7-9

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb ‘” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”

 

So going back to the beginning of our castle feast story, our team was convinced that one of the best ways to welcome and communicate the gospel to our new students was spoiling them with an amazing feast. It’s likely that the newly arrived students in our story didn’t understand all of the intricacies and thoughts that were invested in preparing that meal. But they surely felt loved. Whether they realized it or not, our “King’s Feast” was a preparation, or a prophetic rehearsal of what is to come.

Have you ever had a great feast? What was it like? 
What are ways you can include more celebration and feasting into your year?
Stuck on ideas? Try the Shabbat!

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St Valentine’s Story: Chocolates, Flowers, or Your Head Cut Off?

St Valentine’s Story: Chocolates, Flowers, or Your Head Cut Off?

For February 14, do you prefer flowers, chocolates, or your head cut off? Below you’ll find out what St. Valentine’s story and those things have to do with each other.

 

Maybe Valentine’s Day doesn’t elicit more than an annoyed sigh from you. Or it puts you under pressure to have a Valentine this year, or do something especially romantic (and potentially especially expensive). Whatever your reaction to the impending February 14, stopping to wonder what a 3rd century Christian saint has to do with flowers and greeting cards may offer a fresh and unexpected perspective.

 

You might have guessed it: spending in the name of romance wasn’t on Valentine’s agenda. It seems that the connection between St. Valentine and romantic love wasn’t drawn until about 1000 years after his death – by famous English poet Geoffrey Chaucer (The Canterbury Tales). Since then, sending each other love notes on February 14 took off, until it evolved into the huge act it is today.

 So what about the actual St. Valentine?

 Turns out we don’t even know for sure whether the saint we are referring to was one person – or rather two different persons who were both martyred on the same day. Supposedly Valentine was a bishop who either healed a blind girl and subsequently converted a prominent Roman household to Christianity, or he secretly married young couples even though that was against the law, or both. And he wouldn’t keep quiet about the Christian faith. Which is what got him killed.

 

In light of the lack of information we have about his life, what can we glean from this saint as we look forward to February 14, the day his martyrdom is remembered?

For one, if the accounts of him secretly marrying couples in Rome are true, then this speaks to us about the nature of love. In today’s dating culture, you can have a “Valentine”, a “love interest”, or any other option from among the many forms or stages of “significant other”. The tendency is to use the word “love” loosely, and handle commitments to each other also fairly flexibly.

 

However, when Valentine married couples against the emperor’s edict (yep, we’re remembering a lawbreaker here!), he implicitly stated that marriage is the way to go for men and women who profess that they love each other. It makes an important point on the nature of God’s love, actually: namely, how does God love us?

 True Love

Quite often, we immediately connect the word love with a sensation, a feeling, a rush of hormones. Since God-Father and God-Holy Spirit do not have bodies and therefore no hormones, it begs the question as to how their love for us functions (and we can include pre-incarnation Jesus into that as well). As Scot McKnight has wonderfully explained here, the Bible shows us a God who loves us through commitment. God’s love is a rugged commitment to be with his people and for his people, so that their lives would be infused and enriched and transformed by His.

 

So you may know people who wouldn’t hesitate to send a text or a note that say “I love you” to someone they might have met yesterday. What we need to realize is that this is a far cry from the Bible’s beautiful perspective. From the vantage point of the Older and Newer Testament, we can see how God’s commitment to His people – before and in Jesus – lays the only foundation that can bear a lifelong relationship with all its complexities and surprises and mistakes.

 St. Valentine, Breaking the Law for Love

So when St. Valentine, through his actions, declared that the covenant of marriage was more important than the emperor’s law, he was making this statement: that love is first of all a commitment, and only this commitment is the foundation strong enough for true intimacy and relationship – feelings ebb and flow, and romantic hopes can be dashed. Committing to each other in marriage is the way that shows forth God’s own character, and the actually best option to see our dreams of lifelong romance and faithfulness fulfilled.

Another thing we can observe in St. Valentine is his personal commitment. We don’t know whether he was married (probably not), but that’s not the commitment I am talking about.

Valentine was outspoken about Jesus and the need to commit (!) one’s life to Him. Depending on the source material, he even urged the emperor himself to become a Christian. Unfortunately, the emperor didn’t like that suggestion and had Valentine beheaded.

 

Being Committed

Here is something to think about: do I show the same commitment in my walk with Christ? To stick with my Lord even when threatened with dire consequences? How much easier is it to just keep quiet for a moment and avoid ruffling the feathers. After all, there are plenty of other people who would be more agreeable to the message of Jesus – right? Maybe I’ll just wait to share the Gospel with them…

 

Even in today’s supposedly tolerant world, there are plenty of voices that take offense with the Gospel message – and consequently with its messengers (read: you and me). As one of the many martyrs (the word simply means “witness”) is remembered this Valentine’s Day, maybe we can rethink where we stand. Are we more prone to bite our tongue at the slightest opposition to Jesus – or are we growing towards a wise and courageous sharing of Jesus’ message, regardless of whether we step on proverbial toes?

Feel Free to be Romantic!

By the way, if you are in a relationship, by all means go and get the flowers, the chocolates, the dinner and dancing, or whatever your time and budget allow. Romantic gestures are important – especially when you are committed to someone.

But in light of St. Valentine’s example, let’s reflect for a moment: if love is primarily a commitment, then how committed am I – to my partner, my neighbour, to God?

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When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God


A few years ago our family lead an outreach to Liberia, Africa with Youth with a Mission. We then only had two kiddos, both under the age of two.

Perhaps many people would think of it as irresponsible of us to pack up our little family and lead a team of young adults to a developing country. We, however, were very confident that God was calling us there, and felt a complete peace to go. Of course we thought, “what if one of our kids would die? Or get totally sick?” But, we held firm to God and went despite the thoughts.

A few weeks into our outreach, things were generally going well. Of course, everyone in our team, one after the other got sick in some way. There was no running water, it’s way hotter than Europe, there were evil little mosquitoes everywhere, but we could handle it.

At one point I had a nasty pink eye infection from the dust that I went practically blind for a week and couldn’t take care of my babies… Thankfully some of the very precious local women who lived around us helped me so much. I ended up teaching at a women’s conference at the end of that week – with sunglasses so that my weepy, nasty, pink eye wouldn’t be so distracting.

Our nine month old at the time was teething. He had a fever on and off for about five days. I really thought it was just the teething, so I decided not to be overly concerned. I’m a firm believer that a bit of fever is good!


Finally, after the fifth day, we notice the baby was quite listless, and quiet, and his breathing was particularly heavy.


With the help from our hosts, we found a clinic in the area that was open. It was the afternoon and where we were in Monrovia, we didn’t have easy access to transportation. We arrived at the local clinic and they were first of all angry at us for arriving at the “wrong time”, apparently one is supposed to arrive in the morning.  We paid extra for that.
They finally took us in to test the baby’s blood, while the nurse yelled at the baby to stop crying or she’ll “give him something to cry about”.


We waited and waited and waited… feeling very helpless, and completely foreign in this system. Praying for God to come and heal and deal with the chaos and confusion..


Maybe a doctor came, but I’m not sure he was a doctor since Liberia suffers under extreme lack of them. He and the nurses started giving the baby medicine, but not telling us what the problem was. I asked what they were doing, and what he had. They responded, “He has malaria of course!”.  By then, my husband and I were panicking, but they seemed completely calm.

“Everyone gets malaria, no big deal, just medicine, then it’s all good.” they said.
I kept thinking, “Oh God, what would everyone back home be thinking?”

We went back home, and prayed with our team for our sweet boy’s healing. The poor baby still struggled with breathing, still had a fever, and we went to bed.

My husband and I both woke at about 3am to one loud shriek of the baby.

He then fell silent and was breathing even more shallow, and labored. He felt cold and clammy. We both felt like death was near, and tried to figure out what to do. We could not call an ambulance, that didn’t exist. We couldn’t go hail a car, this was Monrovia at night – and we had no clue what we were doing. We didn’t have any emergency numbers or a vehicle. All we could do was pray.


So we prayed and prayed and asked God what we should do.
Then, there was a peace. It’s hard to explain, and it may sound horrible, but we felt like it would be ok to wait until the morning and we all fell back asleep, not knowing what would await us in the morning.

The next morning, baby was still alive, and we could find phone numbers and people to bring us to a different clinic. We found a German/Liberian one, and a local pastor drove us there (the only person we knew who had a vehicle).

At the hospital, they were outraged that the other clinic did not hospitalize the baby right away. They took his blood again and tested him.

I waited in a little recovery room filled with six other beds. The hospital beds were dirty, there were flies flying all around the window, and cobwebs everywhere. I just sat and reflected on God. Where was he in all of this? What are we doing here with this team? Are we crazy? Did God really say, “Go”? Was it really worth it to be obedient and risk our baby’s life?
These questions buzzed in and out of my head, along with the flies. I felt like a horrible missionary… doubting God, doubting people, hating my situation. It was a dark moment in my faith.

I had no internet anywhere, but I had my tablet with me. My Bible was on it and I decided to open it up. Just then, despite no internet, a message from one of my friend’s back in Germany loaded. Which was a miracle by itself.

Here is an excerpt:

“Girl now more than ever set your eyes on Jesus, I can only imagine that you want to call the whole world for a solution, I understand I would do the same; but what I feel in my heart right now very strong is TRUST THE LORD, please feel free to call around and find solutions and answers but SET YOUR EYES ON JESUS, hold on to the conviction you had to go there and be there now and you trusted God will carry you through, HE IS CARRYING YOU THROUGH even now!!.   We will be praying for you.  As right now I honestly don’t know what to tell you what you could do about it. “

 


This was such a miraculous encouragement for me. Still hearing from community even though there was no internet available to access my messages!

Finally, after hours and hours of waiting the results came back.

No malaria. We were convinced he was miraculously healed from it. How did he go from positive the day before to absolutely nothing?
But he did have some sort of other blood/lung infection, possibly from the same dust that gave me my pink eye infection. He got the appropriate medication, and got better very very quickly.

This moment is but one cornerstone of my faith.

Despite lack of faith, know-how, and abilities, it was and is always God who is our “strong tower”.

Even when you feel like a failure of a Christian – or in my particular case, a failure of a missionary.

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Game Changers for Your God Given Destiny | 3 Things You Control

Game Changers for Your God Given Destiny | 3 Things You Control

In the last post, we talked about two parables: the Parable of the Talents and the Parable of the Virgins. Where we saw that Jesus used these stories to wake us up to be ready and prepared for when he returns. We saw that He has entrusted us with resources, time and talents and he has high expectations in how we use them. Today we are going talk about one thing you are probably ignoring.

But first, a riddle:

What is the longest, and yet the shortest thing in the world; the swiftest and the most slow; the most divisible and the most extended; the least valued, and the most regretted; without which nothing can be done, and with which many do nothing; which devours everything, however small, and yet gives life and spirit to all things however great? Voltaire

and the most regretted; without which nothing can be done,
and with which many do nothing; which devours everything,
however small, and yet gives life and spirit to all things however great?

Have you guessed the answer yet?

 

 

 

Time!

This is a tricky one, but have you ever thought about time as a resource? It is in fact, a finite resource. Meaning you cannot make more time, nor develop time, but you can only use exactly what’s given to you.
And I know there are a million things vying for your time at this moment. You probably have a lot of great excuses why you DON’T have the time to ________ (fill in with your choice of: invite people over, start a new project, or visit someone who you know is lonely,or write a letter to so and so, journal everyday etc. )
So what do you do? Just sit there and feel bad and blame all the things stealing your time?

No, this is where management comes into play. God has given you, like he gave those women, all the resources you need to please, serve him, and live out your destiny (check out this awesome sermon from Mike Bickle on Power of a Focused Life).

We ALL have 24 hours in a day, the challenge is to find the little foxes that eat up, waste your time, and savagely get rid of them.

Why I Ditched Netflix

For instance two years ago my giant time waster was binge watching Netflix every night. My excuse was that I was “too exhausted” every day to be able to do anything else, which seems totally valid when you have four kids six and under. BUT there was a problem, one day I would stand before Jesus. I just couldn’t imagine myself standing in front of Jesus on the day of his coming, or the day of my death and talking to him about all the time he gave me that a spent binge watching Netflix.


This image was SO revolting, that I had to change something. So I bit the bullet and ditched Netflix.

Take a moment to think about what the little foxes in your life could be, and how you can savagely get rid of them.

You Are Here On Purpose

In a moment we are going to look at three things that you can do for your destiny, but first let’s look at John. 15:6 –

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

You were placed here on this Earth for a reason, and provided with personal resources, gifts and abilities that you need in order to walk in the destiny God has planned for you.

Today we are looking at the resource of time, because we are ALL given this same exact resource, and God expects us ALL to manage this precious resource with an eternal perspective in mind.

I think this is a great quote:

Passion for your destiny translates to an aggressive approach to managing your time… there is no reality [of your destiny] until your time commitments and management have the same kind of energy in your life that your passion for your destiny has. Because passion for your destiny and managing your time is the very same subject.

 – Mike Bickle

What this means is that whatever God is calling you to do, or serve, or to be doesn’t just magically appear.

You don’t flow by the Spirit into your destiny. But it requires your control in at least these three areas:

Three Ways to Influence Your Destiny

s

Clarity and Motivation

Actually writing down the changes you’d like to see in your life, or the character you’d like to develop is a great starting point to be clear in what you want.

In my example, I imagined my standing before Jesus and was disturbed at the thought of  and that was my intrinsic (or inner) motivation to change how my time was spent. Every choice that comes before me I try to is in light of this eternal perspective, this scene we will all take part in.  From this motivation, I can look at all of the choices in my life and make a decision based on this one moment with Jesus.

s

Action

You actually have to start. God is most likely not going to take away all of your time wasting temptations. You have to get rid of them. Maybe this means cutting your cable, or shutting of the internet.
s

Discipline

Using my example of ditching Netflix took discipline. I had to address what I wanted to do with my time instead of Netflix, and even if I felt like vegging out in front of the TV, I had to be steadfast in my choices to not do it. That really required discipline as my brain was hard wired to “relax” in front of entertainment.

A Truth and A SECRET

There is a temptation to look around and compare yourself to all these amazing people who are doing great things.
The truth is though: No one can be you.

God has given you exactly what you need to be faithful to him. Don’t look around at everyone else and get depressed because they are doing great things and you barely have the capacity to invite someone over for a coffee.

Here is the secret:

If you are faithful in the little things, that is GOOD! That’s what he sees. Yes, Jesus has high expectations of you, but they are only based on what your ability is. Sometimes he stretches us because he knows we are able to do more, but he provides you with ALL the is necessary. Jesus says in Matthew 6:33,

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Good news for the overwhelmed mom here! Even giving a cup of cold water to the kid down the street on a hot day is seeking the kingdom. He continues in Matthew 10:42,

“And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”

 

The Richest Place on Earth

I’m going to end with one more quote, that a friend shared with me many years ago:

“The wealthiest place in the world is not the gold mines of South America or the oil fields of Iraq or Iran. They are not the diamond mines of South Africa or the banks of the world. The wealthiest place on the planet is just down the road. It is the cemetery. There lie buried companies that were never started, inventions that were never made, bestselling books that were never written, and masterpieces that were never painted. In the cemetery is buried the greatest treasure of untapped potential.”

-Myles Munroe

Take some time to think about what God has given you, and if there is anything you are wasting or hiding?

What are the little moments you can be faithful in this week?

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Why is Advent Important?

Why is Advent Important?

What is Advent and why is it important? Before we dive in, I want you to imagine yourself as the president (or prime minister or head of state) of your country. Ready?

What do Presidents and Advent have to do with one another?

Imagine you, Mrs. President, are visiting a foreign country, flying in with a host of dignitaries and attendants. The plane lands on the airstrip, the stairway is attached, and as the door opens, you step out, hand half raised to wave and greet the waiting crowd,

and you see – no one.

Did they really forgot this important visit? It’s inconceivable! But imagine how much more embarrassing it must be for the country you are visiting. No frantic scramble can make up for the fact that they utterly failed to receive you with due honor. Whatever they manage to quickly put together as a formal reception will be piecemeal, hastily assembled, and lacking the careful composition and foresight that would normally be expanded for guests of honor.

Now, I have never heard of a case where a country’s political leadership forgot about the visit of a foreign dignitary. Probably because they all have a very important tool – a calendar. In a way, Advent is like that.

 

A Brief History – The Origins of the word “Advent”

 

Maybe you found it challenging to imagine yourself as President or Chancellor, and you were wondering what that might have to do with Advent. It might surprise you – as it did me – that originally this time was named “epiphaneia”, and this word means the arrival, presence, or visit of a dignitary, particularly of a king or emperor. (January 6 is still celebrated as Epiphany for that reason.)

 

When Latin took over in the Western church, the name for the weeks leading up to Christmas was called tempus adventus Domini – the time of the arrival of the Lord. Hence we got the name Advent for this season.

Maybe you are interested in Advent trivia such as the fact that until 1917, Advent was a time of fasting in the Roman Catholic Church, comparable to Lent. And that this period once used to range from November 11 until January 6 (so no stuffing yourself with sugar cookies all through December).

 

What is Advent and Why is it Important?

Whether such facts intrigue you or not, one question remains: why have such a time at all? Couldn’t we just celebrate Christmas and be happy about it?

It seems to me that the Christians in the first centuries were at least as wise as we, if not wiser. Maybe they saw the danger of Christmas just sneaking up on us and catching us unprepared. Or maybe they thought along the lines of preparing for an important dignitary, making sure that everything – inwardly and outwardly – was ready for his arrival. How embarrassing it would be having to scramble on the last day, and how shameful for the honoured guest to be treated with such a lack of anticipation!

 

Different Historical Advent Traditions

To be sure, the emphasis varied initially. Some highlighted the miracle of the incarnation, underscoring the unfathomable mystery that God entered humanity. Others placed the focus more on the fact that, just as Jesus came once as a baby, he will come again as king of the universe and bring justice and peace forever

Both are important, and both are much too weighty to ponder on single day, sandwiched in between meal preparations and family gatherings.

A Time to Long and a Time to Celebrate

Which is why we have Advent – a season to let the astounding truths of Jesus’ first and second coming soak into our very souls, to incite in us longing and gratefulness and praise. And a time to prepare ourselves for the joyful celebration. The celebration where we remember Him entering our world and becoming like us. And where we celebrate His impending return in glory.

Thank you to my fantastic husband, Simon Goeppert for this guest post!

If you like his thoughts and writing, be sure to check out our new Advent Devotional!

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Exclusively for scatterbrained Mamas

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