One of my favorite summer treats is a cherry chocolate milkshake, so it is no big surprise that this Cherry Hot Chocolate recipe is a favorite of mine as well! Read on for the recipe and for a little reminder, from me to you, that YOU ARE LOVED.
A Valentine's Day Message
This time of year, with Valentine's day approaching, for those of us who are single, widowed, in a troubled marriage, looking for love, or on the outskirts of a break up...we can feel a little sad, heartbroken, less than, maybe even a little depressed. Maybe even feel unloved. But let me remind each and every one of us, that the greatest love of our lives is Christ. No one will love you more. No one will love you so unconditionally. And no matter how you are feeling in this very moment, know that....
YOU ARE LOVED.
Let me repeat it again.
YOU ARE LOVED.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
Every time you see a heart this season, see the heart of Christ in it and remember...
His love for you is abounding Psalm 86:15
His love for you endures forever Psalm 136:26
His love for you drives out fear 1 John 4:18
and nothing can separate you from His love! Romans 8:37-39
Take some time today to spend with the greatest valentine you will ever have, the One who's sweet whispers of love to you will endure and never fade.
Keep scrolling for the hot chocolate recipe, make a cup, grab a blanket, and enjoy some quiet time!
Cherry Hot Chocolate
1 cup of hot chocolate (made the way you like it)
I jar of maraschino cherries (all you will need is a few cherries and 2 tbsp of the cherry juice)
This one is so simple! Make your cup of hot chocolate the way you like it, add 2 tbsp of maraschino cherry juice (1 tsp if you like a little less cherry flavor) and mix well. Add whip cream and top with a cherry or two. Then enjoy!
For more hot chocolate recipes and faith inspiration, check out more "Mornings With Jesus" or follow my pinterest board "Hot Chocolate and Jesus".
My grandmother often gathered her friends over for a meal and for fellowship. Over the years, I heard many stories of their conversations and the time they spent together. Shortly before she passed away, I was invited to come sit at this table, too. She had her china set out and her fancy, green antique chairs were being used.
It was inviting.
It was obvious she put time into setting that table, but what lingers most in my heart is the warmth I felt gathered there.
The welcoming feeling.
The overlapping of generations that spoke to me. No matter our age-90 or 30-we were all just women. Women who need to talk, to listen, to share our stories and struggles, to know we are not alone.
We all need a place where we can be vulnerable, where someone understands. A place to have both the tough conversations and to laugh those belly laughs.
Gathering. Community. Building fellowship.
We are called to it.
And we are called to share the table with Jesus as well.
As I share various tablescapes each month, it is my hope that you not only remember that Jesus has a place at His table for you, but there is a place at the table right here with me too! If you have a prayer need, or a subject to tackle-I'd love to know!
May this place be a warm, inviting one.
May this be a place to encourage you, not only in faith, but to reach out in hospitality to those around you. To have a place waiting for family, friends, and strangers alike. To make a place at the table to share love, friendship, and the light of Jesus with those around you. Especially those who might not have a place at any other table than the one you and Jesus invite them too!
Come take a seat here at this table month after month!
Come take a seat at the table....
Break bread over a meal,
over some coffee...
with a friend -new or old,
with a group of friends,
with loved ones,
with your spouse,
with your neighbors,
with your children.
Come to the table...
Have those intimate, vulnerable conversations,
reach out to grab another's hand and say, "I have been there. I understand",
pass down stories to future generations,
let others know they are loved and they are welcome.
Come sit at the table. There is a chair waiting for you...
Check out below, a winter tablescape that brings a little warmth into this blustery season!
This winter, at least here in Wisconsin, has been blistery, snowy, icy, freezing cold, and even rainy. And while every winter is a little different here, one thing always can be counted on-some dark, dreary days. Those days can be hard for me. Maybe they are for you too? I have found that there are two things that help me during this time. Gathering with friends and creating some warm inviting decor with candles and a few things that reflect the wintery season. So keep scrolling and I will share how I set up this winter tablescape!
(Please note: I am not an affiliate for any of the places I mention in this post, just sharing where I got some of the pieces from in case you are wondering.)
These wood chargers are so versatile. My daughter actually got them for me for my birthday this year. She knew I had been wanting them for years. I would probably use them with each tablescape if I didn't need some variety once and awhile. They bring a warm, earthy element to just about every tablescape! And just in case you are wondering...they came from World Market.
I like to switch things up a little sometimes. For this tablescape I decided to use to different style/color napkins. I orginally was just going to use the silver, but something about mixing it up, when I placed both the white and the silver napkins on the table, spoke to me. This is also a great idea if you are having a larger group of people over and don't have enough matching napkins- use two different styles to add some dimension and no one will ever know why! The silver napkins I got on clearance last Christmas at Target (do I have any Target lovers here?) and the white napkins I got on clearance (for $1.50!) at Pier 1 (Pier 1 lovers can raise your hands with me here).
The bigger white plates are just my day to day dinner plates, but the smaller white plates with the gold rim and raised snowflakes? I got those from Goodwill. I had been eyeing them up, and we they went on clearance for $.75, well, I couldn't pass that up! They fit perfectly into this tablescape.
These snowflake napkin rings are really one of my favorite winter table decor. I have had them for a few years (another treasure from Pier 1) and the way they capture the light is just stunning!
I like to mix up drinkware as well! For this tablescape, because I wanted to highlight both silver and gold, I used silver and gold drinkware. I like to use what I have to make totally new settings. Both the gold and sliver drinkware were ones I had for several years (from Target). I used gold silverware to add a little more gold to the tablescape.
When Christmas is over, I like to use some of the more neutral decor as my winter decor. Like these white trees (from world market) and these green trees with the burlap. And yes, I keep a few smaller trees (with no ornaments) lit with white lights through the month of February. This helps me on those dreary days!
I love candles. If you follow me on Instagram, which if you don't already-just click the button below, then you probably know that I have a lot of candles and light them often. These metallic candlesticks from World Market truly are my favorite! You might be able to tell because they are burned down quite a bit from usage....
This house lantern just seemed to fit as the center of this tablescape. I grabbed it from somewhere else in the house, but it has found a new home here on the table. Found it at Walmart!
Last but not least is the blanket. It adds warmth to the bench and I feel is so inviting, not to mention it matched perfectly with the table decor. I grabbed it out of my blanket bin. I rarely buy anything at full price, and this blanket is another World Market product that I waited for over a year to go on sale. It finally did!
Whether it is an inviting tablescape, a delicious meal, or just a cup of coffee, I hope, this winter (and always), you stay warm, gather often, be the light of Christ, and love others well!
Join me again "At The Table", for more tablescapes, and encouragement in faith and building relationships!
We don't remember our first steps. Those first wobbly attempts in early childhood that we made to pursue a freedom we couldn't totally understand yet.
But each of us, before we could walk, had to stand....
Paul and Barnabas went to a city named Lystra. There they preached the Gospel. A man who had been lame all his life (since birth) listened to the preaching.
Acts 14:9-10 says:
"He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk."
There are times we don't feel qualified, times we fear failing, times we feel paralyzed, times we are unsure of where the next step is. And let's be honest, maybe we have experienced a time where we couldn't even put one foot in front of the other.
Maybe that time is now.
A difficulty in front of us.
A calling we don't feel equipped for.
Our confidence shaken.
Brokenness that seems despairing.
During these times, God is not asking us to walk alone! He is not asking us to walk on newly healed legs of our own strength or ability!
He is asking us to STAND UP.
Stand up in FAITH!
There is nothing the man did except have faith. It was that faith that initiated the healing.
It is by our faith, and God working through us, that he equips us for tasks ahead, strengthens our wobbly legs in the midst of difficulty, and that He begins to peel back the layers of brokenness.
Note above, the man didn't just stand up- he JUMPED up! This action of jumping shows exuberance and even expectation. When God calls us to move in faith, do we slowly get up, checking to make sure of the stability of our legs before walking? Or do we, like this lame man, take a leap...a jump...in faith...with the assurance that when we leap up, God will place our feet on the ground. That He will strengthen, and guide, and equip us?
When God calls us to walk in faith, let's not only stand up but jump!
Let us trust Him, with great assurance, to move our feet, to walk, when we thought we could not!
Because, before any of us can walk, we need to stand....
I'd love to hear how you have been standing up-or jumping up-in faith!
As always, I welcome any prayer requests that you may have.
Hope your are staying warm in this cold burst of weather! I have been curling up with a lot of blankets and hot chocolate the last week. How about you?
This week I wanted to share a fun hot chocolate recipe with you, Birthday Cake!
Two of my kids have birthdays coming up and I plan to serve this little cup of birthday love with them in the morning. And speaking of birthdays...and new years...it reminded me of being a new creation in Christ. So, I thought I would share 2 Corinthians 5:17 on this "Mornings with Jesus"....
The Mini Devo
2 Corinthians 5:17
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"
A new year is here and 2018 is gone. As believers in Christ, our old selves are gone as well and we are created new in Christ. With new hearts.
With new hearts...and new perspectives.
Paul wrote this verse to the Corinthians, who while they were believers, were stuck in a place of continuing to judge and evaluate others on external appearance. They were influenced by the world view around them. A world view that judged outward, physical presence.
An ancient view and yet a modern view. A view that Paul says should be an old view: "So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view." (2 Cor 5:16)
Sometimes, it is much easier to remember that we ourselves are new creations in Christ, than it is to remember that our brothers and sisters are new creations as well. It can be difficult at times to remember to see others through spiritual eyes. To assess spiritual nature rather than physical nature. But as new creations, that is what we are called to do.
Our culture today, with it's large emphasis on physical appearance, can influence us the same way the culture in Corinth influenced the Corinthians. Let us remember to see others in light of the new creation and new nature they have been given in Christ.
The old is gone, the new is here! Let's make 2019 a year we look to see the newly created hearts in others. Let's make a lifetime of looking inward rather than outward!
Birthday Cake Hot Chocolate Recipe
1 cup of milk
2 ounces of your favorite white chocolate or about 1/4 cup of white chocolate chips
1/8 tsp of vanilla extract
1/8 of Butter vanilla (more or less to your taste)
Place milk, white chocolate, vanilla and butter vanilla in your favorite mug.
Mix and then warm on stovetop or in the microwave.
Add whip cream, sprinkles, top with a candle, and serve to that special birthday person!
If you have been made new in Christ, believing in Him and no longer living your life for yourself but rather living for Jesus, go ahead and serve this hot chocolate recipe to yourself as well- and remember the new creation you are!
Looking for a delicious hot chocolate recipe to serve on Christmas Eve to guests or to make as you curl up and watch a movie? This candy cane hot chocolate recipe is my go-to for our hot chocolate Christmas traditions! I hope it makes it into yours as well!
Keep reading for the recipe and little Christmas devotion on the promise of Christmas....
Christmas is so much more than trees and lights and presents and food. It is more than gathering with family and friends. It is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, but it is also a celebration of promise.
A promise of hope, peace, redemption, and life.
It is a promise that God is with us. That He loves us.
A promise that though life has trials and hardships, God is faithful and good.
For unto us a child was born and through Him hope was gifted to those who believe. Let us celebrate this hope. This redemption. This peace. This life eternal.
Bring whatever you have -whether your faith be little or big- to the manger. And in return, receive a gift like no other.
This Christmas I wish you joy where there is sadness. Peace where there is anxiety. Expectation where there is trepidation. Hope where there is defeat. And rest where there is weariness.
May your day be filled with not only love of family and/or friends, but filled with the promises that Jesus brings.
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Candy Cane Hot Chocolate
4 Cups milk (skim, 2%, whole - your choice)
1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon crushed candy canes
1/4 tsp vanilla
For white hot chocolate:
4 ounces white chocolate chips
For chocolate hot chocolate:
4 ounces chocolate chips
(or make your regular hot chocolate as usual and add the above ingredients minus the chocolate chips)
1. Combine all the ingredients (except the tablespoon of crushed candy canes) and heat either on the stove top or in the microwave until the crushed candy canes are melted.
2. Pour into your favorite holiday mug.
3. Top with whip cream and sprinkle left over crushed candy canes on top (if desired).
4. Enjoy and have a merry and blessed Christmas!
Who doesn't love sugar cookies? And who doesn't want a little reminder that the impossible is possible?
Read on for this sweet promise from Jesus and a hot chocolate recipe for the cookie lover in each of us...
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
What a sweet promise!
Something jumps out to me in the first four words of the verse, "Jesus looked at them". He didn't give this promise looking down the road ahead of them, or looking down at his food while they ate. No. He looked AT THEM and gave the promise.
This was a profound promise and an answer to the question in the previous verse "who then can be saved?" I imagine His penetrating gaze looking into their astonished ones-and telling them that with God all things are possible.
How much more weight does it carry when someone looks us directly in the eyes and tells us something; a truth. How much more importance does it show? Reflect on this as your read on.
Jesus may have been responding to the question of "who can be saved" after speaking about the danger of wealth and the difficulty those dangers cause for the rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven, but He gave us so much more in that response.
He reminded us that salvation doesn't rest in our good works, our status, or anything that we are or will do. Our salvation rests in Jesus.
With man? Impossible.
With God ALL things are possible.
With God, not only is it possible for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven,
but WITH GOD....
Hearts can be healed
Relationships can be mended.
Waters can be calmed
Seas are parted
The Mouths of lions are shut
Wildernesses are crossed
Fears can be cast away
Thirst can be quenched
Lives can be changed
Sins can be forgiven
Salvation is found
And joy can be restored.
With the song of this sweet promise in our heart's, let's go enjoy some sugar cookie hot chocolate....
Sugar Cookie Hot Chocolate
1 1/2 cups of Milk (skim, 2% or whole)
1/3 cup of Frosted Sugar Cookie Creamer
Mix milk and creamer on stove top or microwave. Mix well. Add whip cream and sprinkles if desired. Enjoy!
*For a twist, make your hot chocolate as usual and just add 1/3 cup of the Sugar Cookie Creamer to it for a chocolate sugar cookie flavor!
In Acts 19, we are told that the Lord was doing great things through Paul. Particularly that God gave Paul the power to do extraordinary or unusual miracles ( Acts 19:11).
How was he doing this? I find the answer fascinating....
Through aprons and handkerchiefs!
Yes! When the handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched Paul's skin were placed on sick people, they were healed (See Acts 19:12). So why aprons and handkerchiefs? Acts doesn't tell us anymore than this, but if we dig a little deeper, I think the message is quite clear.
What were handkerchiefs used for back in Paul's time?
To wipe the sweat off your brow. Most likely when a person is working hard.
And aprons? What are they used for?
They are worn to do work or acts of service.
They both are symbols of service.
As Paul served and did what God called him to do, these aprons and handkerchiefs were an extension of Paul's work, service and ministry.
What healing can God do through our own service? Our aprons and handkerchiefs may not perform miracles such as this (and we may not even use any in our work) but that DOESN'T mean that when we serve, God cannot touch others.
Let the apron, the handkerchief be a symbol of the serving WE can do.
Let's put the apron on, tie the strings, step forward and say "here am I". Then wipe the sweat off our brows, serve with full hearts and watch what God CAN and WILL do!
How are you currently serving others? I would love to hear how God has worked through your personal acts of service!
You can find more Mini Mondays right here....
I would guess that most of us have played 'follow the leader' at some point and time in our childhood. We chose a leader and marched around;following the leader wherever he or she went. Perhaps even imitating their actions.
We may feel that this is just a game from our childhood. But to an extent, we still play the game don't we? It may look a little different, but we still 'follow' a lot of things.
We follow fads.
We follow news stories.
We follow trends.
We follow gossip.
We follow people on social media.
We follow who and what the world says we should be.
In the first few chapters of Mark, Jesus says to Peter, Andrew, John, James, and Matthew-"Follow me." He wasn't asking them to hit a 'like' or a 'follow' button. He wasn't asking them to just listen to stories He would tell or the rumors that would spread about Him. He was asking "follow ME". He was asking them to step away from everything else and follow HIM.
The Greek word used in Mark 1:17 for 'follow' is 'akoloutheo'. What it literally means is to walk the same road or to accompany. It is an active word. A word that calls for a choice to be made. It calls for a choice to go down a road that is a mission path, that may be hard sometimes, that leaves your old self behind. But it is also a road that is good. One that brings comfort and peace, new life, and wisdom. It touches the lives of others, and abides with Christ.
So will you follow Him and not just click the like button?
Will you choose to walk the road with Jesus?
To accompany Him as He accompanies you?
When Jesus calls for you to follow Him...will you walk His way?
With the holiday season approaching next week, you may possibly be getting your house ready for guests. Perhaps even, those guests will be staying awhile and you are preparing a room for them to stay in.
Jesus is preparing a room for you as well!
So read on for one of the promises, that when I first read it, brought me great comfort. I hope it will do the same for you!
And....one of the things that always started off the holiday season in my family growing up was...that's right, egg nog! I am sharing below, this delicious Egg Nog Hot Chocolate Recipe, for you to enjoy during some quiet time with Jesus this morning or to share with family and friends as they come over this holiday season. Either way, I hope it reminds you of the beautiful promise in John 14:2-3!
"My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
I find such comfort knowing that Jesus is preparing a room for me.
Do we prepare a room for those who are not welcome? No! We prepare a room for those we have invited into our home. For those who will not fleetingly stay a moment.
We prepare for those who will be staying awhile.
We clean, put fresh sheets on, tidy up, fluff pillows, maybe light a candle or place some fresh flowers there. We make sure our guest will have enough pillows and blankets. We plan meals and pick up extra groceries. We prepare.
And Jesus prepares a room for us. We do not prepare our own place.
He prepares for those who He has invited. For those whom He takes with Him to be where He is. For those who love Him. It is not a last minute decision. He knows who He is preparing rooms for. "Preparing" is not a future term but a present and past term. The son of the ever-living God, takes care in preparing a place for US!
I don't know what that room will look like. But if Jesus is preparing it, I can only imagine how wonderful it will be! Someday, we will walk into the kingdom of God, and for those who love Him, Jesus will say "I have a room prepared for you". And there will be a room, intentionally and loving prepared just for YOU.
So as you prepare rooms in your own house, do it with a willing and loving heart-just like Jesus.
Throughout your preparations this seasons, may each task remind you of the room that is being prepared for you...
*Read on for the Egg Nog Hot Chocolate recipe!
Egg Nog Hot Chocolate
3 cups Egg Nog (your choice of brand/type-I love vanilla spice egg nog)
1 cup of milk (your choice of milk)
8 ounces of white chocolate chips (may substitute with semi sweet chocolate chips if desired)
1 tsp vanilla
whip cream (if desired)
Sprinkles (if desired)
*if you would like less of an egg nog taste, use 2 cups of milk and 2 cups of egg nog
*double up the recipe and place in a crock pot if you are having family and friends over for the holidays!
1. Mix all the ingredients except the whip cream and sprinkles
2. Heat via your preferred method-stove top or microwave.
3. Mix well.
4. Add whip cream and sprinkles to each individual mug if desired.
*If doubled-put in crock pot on warm if already heated or on low until hot chocolate is heated and chocolate chips are melted (then turn to warm)
"I would go to the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit. It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in a season to one that is weary." - Charles Spurgeon
There was a pile of notebooks on my dresser, and as I looked at them one day they reminded me of my own life in a way. Like those notebooks, my life has been filled with many chapters and a large amount of them have been chapters of affliction....
There have been days I have asked the question, "why?" and "why so many difficult seasons?" If your asking yourself the same questions, I do not have all the answers. But what I do know is this:
* I am grateful for every one.
*Grateful for where they ultimately brought me.
*Grateful for what some of them steered me from.
*Grateful that they filled my heart with a compassion and an understanding that I would not be so in tune with had I not been afflicted in these ways.
*Grateful that had it not been for these things, I would not know the difference between walking through a storm relying on myself vs walking through a storm relying on Christ.
A million times over I would choose the latter.
Christ, alive in me, after such great affliction that He Himself suffered, comforts and strengthens me in a way which only pain knows pain.
So a hundred times over, I would walk through the deep again. To meet Christ in the deep waters ahead of me, and to meet you, my friend, in the waters of affliction that are perhaps surrounding you.
Yes, Jesus knew pain.
He knew sorrow. (Matthew 26:38)
He knew ridicule. (Mark 15:19, Luke 22:63)
He knew loneliness. (Matthew 27:46)
He knew rejection. (John 6:66)
He knew weariness. (John 4:6)
He knew poverty. (Matthew 8:20)
He knew physical pain. (Isaiah 53:7-8)
He knew abuse. (Mark 14:65, Luke 22:63)
He knew suffering. (Hebrews 2:18)
He knew temptation. (Hebrews 2:18)
Whatever you are going through-Jesus understands. He knows. He is there for you and will help you if you go to Him.
So run to Him who knows your pain, He who knows pain. Run into his arms and be strengthened and comforted. Run into His arms....and be KNOWN.
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are -yet was without sin. "
I would love to pray for you! I am always open for you to send a prayer request!. Blessings ❤️
Wife. Mother. Writer. Photographer. Child of God. Encouraging others in faith through a lens of grace and seeing beauty in the ashes.
All images and content belong to me (Blue Jean Gypsy), unless otherwise noted. You may use an image ONLY if it is linked back to this blog! Thank you for your understanding and cooperation!
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