Category Archives: Faith

Ash Valentine’s

Focusing on things eternal, together.

Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.


 

This service was much needed in light of the recent news that hits home.

Thou the spring of all my comfort,
  More than life to me;
Whom have I on earth beside Thee?
  Whom in heaven but Thee?

Savior, Savior,
  Hear my humble cry…

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Hello 2018, The Year Of Openness!

Happy New Year to all!

And Happy Blogaversary to me! 3 years! It has been a great 3 years indeed.

If you’re a fan of The Middle on ABC, you’ll remember that Sue Heck always themes her years. As does Crystal from Money Saving Mom! I’ve never tried it before, but looking back on 2017 one word definitely comes to mind:

Change.

A LOT changed in 2017 for me. Here’s a list:

It might not seem like a whole lot written out, but it sure feels like a lot.

I’m not complaining! 2017 was a great year. But my ‘year of change’ was not intentional.

Neither was my coming up with a theme for 2018. I didn’t set out to do it – it just happened! Divine intervention, as I say.

My theme for 2018 is openness.

OPENNESS

I want to make a conscious effort to be more open. I want to raise my arms in worship without hesitating. I want to talk to strangers & make new friends without holding back. And most of all, I want to be open to childlike joy. I want to be open to making messes. I want to be open to new ways of doing things.

I want to be open to being led by the Spirit of God.

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” Romans 8:14

God has done great things for my family in 2017. He can do even more in my life, and yours, in 2018 as long as we cling to Him.

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Operation Christmas Child

It’s National Collection Week!

OCC National Collection Week

This is my 8th year participating in Operation Christmas Child.

I love this practical & hands-on opportunity to give back. When you pack a show box, you don’t just give a child material goods. You give them the gospel.

OCC

You give them Hope. Capital H Hope. God’s Hope.

This year, my husband & I took our 5 year old niece, L, & Cupcake with us to the dollar store to buy the items for our boxes (one for a boy, one for a girl). We showed L this video before we left so she would know what to pick out.

She did a great job! She understood the concept & picked out great things for the kids. She was really fair & made sure that both kids got the same number of items. When we got home, she drew a picture for each kid. We had a lot of fun packing the items in the boxes, & Cupcake had fun watching us.

Then we gathered & prayed over the boxes. That’s the most important part.

We prayed for a better world for the children that are receiving these boxes, but we also prayed for better hearts for us senders. That we may be generous with what God has given us everyday.

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 L had fun marking the label. I always make sure to include the donation for shipping. It comes with the added bonus of being able to track the boxes.

In 2016 our boxes went to Angola. I look forward to finding out where they’ll end up this year & looking up that country with my niece.

Cupcakes For Cupcake’s Baptism!

Yesterday was Cupcake’s baptism!

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She was such an angel about it! She was asleep up until we got up on the church altar. Then she opened her eyes & perked up, almost as if she knew that the ceremony was all for her.

Afterward we had a little party at our house to celebrate.

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So of course I made a cake!

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A pull-apart cupcake cake to be precise. Cupcakes for my Cupcake’s baptism ❤

This cake was so easy to assemble! I used 1 box cake mix, about 3 tubs of frosting, & some chocolate candies.

I think it came out looking beautiful.

I’m very much looking forward to raising little Cupcake to be a God-fearing woman.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Pull-Apart Cupcake Cross

assembly instructions
  • 28 cupcakes
  • ~50 oz frosting (about 3 tubs)
  • candies for decorating
  1. Assemble the cupcakes into the desired cross shape.
  2. Frost each cupcake with a large rosette ( I used Wilton 2D tip)
  3. Fill in the gaps with more rosettes.
  4. Decorate with colorful candies.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year I have more to be thankful for than ever!

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I’m so thankful for my family, especially my baby girl!

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Less than 9 weeks left to go!

I thank God for all these blessings & hope everyone has a wonderful holiday filled with love. ❤

National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child!

It’s National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child! This year it’s from Nov 14 – Nov 21. Check out our shoe box packing from last year below!

Mrs. Dessert Monster

Today kicks off National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child!

National Collection Week is November 16-23

6 years ago the church I was a member of while in college introduced me to Operation Christmas Child.

What is the mission of Operation Christmas Child?

The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

This ministry collects shoeboxes – or really, shoebox sized containers – filled with gifts & essential items for needy kids around the world. Once the boxes are packed, shipped, & distributed, teams from Samaritan’s Purse get with local churches to distribute the boxes to the kids. During that time, the Gospel is presented to the kids in their own language in a fun way. Aside from providing presents & necessities such as toiletries, these kids get to…

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Response To “So you’re thinking of voting for a pro-choice candidate…”

This election is ridiculous. I’m not going to pretend it’s not. I know I have only voted in 2 elections so far, but this one seems like one of those that the history books are going to be highlighting.

When I was in middle school, my classmates took a poll on who the students would vote for if they could. I was one of like 5 kids that said George W. Bush. Florida might geographically be in the South, but it’s a purple state at best & I definitely live in a blue county. Of course, back then my ‘politics’ was shaped by my parents. In high school when we could finally register to vote our senior year, I registered as a Republican. When I finally could vote, I voted Republican. As I grew older & went on to attend the University of Florida, a liberal university, my stance as a conservative solidified & my pro-life advocacy started.

Being a Republican is not a part of my identity. Being a Christian is, & being pro-life is. I’m also a wife & mother – my baby is almost 16 weeks gestation. Now that you have a little bit of a background on me, I’ll go on.

I am not sure who I will be voting for in November this year. What I do know, is that it will NOT be Hillary Clinton.

This post by Rachel Held Evan is well written & thoughtful. I read a portion of it last night when a friend quoted the section on Evangelicals on Facebook. That part resonates with me 100%, and that list is among the many reasons I cannot endorse Trump as the candidate. I suggest that, like me, you read that section first. It’s at the very end. My favorite line is, “how you can oppose sexual immorality while shrugging off the transgressions of a strip club owner who brags about his sexual exploits and extramarital affairs and who publicly sexualized both of his daughters?” In my opinion, porn culture, rape culture, & abortion culture go hand-in-hand.

There are some things in Rachel’s post I do agree with, but my conclusion is vastly different from hers. Here are some of my thoughts:

  1. “So even though I think abortion is morally wrong in most cases, and support more legal restrictions around it, I often vote for pro-choice candidates when I think their policies will do the most to address the health and economic concerns that drive women to get abortions in the first place. For me, it’s not just about being pro-birth; it’s about being pro-life. Every child deserves to live in a home and in a culture that welcomes them and can meet their basic needs. Every mother deserves the chance to thrive. Forcing millions of women to have children they can’t support, or driving them to Gosnell-style black market clinics, will not do.”

Abortion is wrong in ALL cases. Abortion is the willful termination of a human being’s life. Whether the fetus is disabled, will die shortly after birth, the result of rape, or simply ‘inconvenient’ does not matter. Just like all children & adults all deserve to be treated equally regardless of education, income, race, ability, & gender, all human fetuses should have the right to live. People conceived in rape do not deserve to die, just ask Rebecca Kiessling & her friends at Save The 1%.

I don’t think Rachel agrees with me & other pro-lifers about making abortion unthinkable. It is not enough to make it illegal. Saying that every child deserves”culture that welcomes them and can meet their basic needs” sounds nice, but sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. Children conceived in poverty are no less disposable than poor adults. Some very influential people lived in poverty & overcame it. We need to change from a ‘culture of death’ with its abortion on demand, capital punishment, & doctor assisted suicide to a ‘culture of life’. In a culture of life, women wouldn’t feel “forced” to have babies – they would welcome their unexpected miracles & have support.

Rachel says, “voting pro-choice is not the same as voting for abortion.” The words are true, but the action is not. Democrats For Life thinks the Democrat platform for this election is too abortion focused. They are fighting for room for pro-life people & ideas in the ‘big tent’. They are fighting for a culture of life.

Hillary Clinton will not get us in that direction. She’s not even touting ‘safe, legal, and rare’ anymore. She wants to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which has received bipartisan support since enacted in 1976. Repealing the Hyde amendment would mean tax-payer funded abortions for women on Medicaid. My mom was on Medicaid when she had me. She needed medical care for her & for me – not an abortion (she has always been pro-life, but why should abortion even be an option under Medicaid?) I am currently a board member of #HelloHyde, a campaign celebrating the 40th anniversary of Hyde this year whose aim is to put faces to the statistics that Hyde opponents like to throw around.

Medicaid does bring me to a point that I agree with Rachel on:

2.”Pro-life advocates should support, rather than oppose, efforts to help low-income families care for their children.”

This is something I can get behind 100%. We should absolutely fight for paid family leave, better childcare options, programs such as Medicaid & WIC, better foster care systems, etc. But, in the mean time, babies still don’t deserve to die. Rachel gives an example of a poor mother of 2 who is struggling to make ends meet & finds herself pregnant for the 3rd time. Rachel seems to suggest that OF COURSE this woman should get an abortion! That doesn’t sound very Christian or pro-life to me. I don’t know Rachel personally, & am not jumping to conclusions from one blog post. I am just pointing out how ‘culture of death’ that sounds.

Rachel points out that Hillary has addressed a lot of these programs & even made them “a centerpiece of her campaign.” That’s great; I’m not saying Hillary is the devil & incapable of doing any good. But Hillary only wants these things after a person has passed the magical line between uterus & outside world. I feel like I have to say it again. Babies don’t have to die for us to have these programs. It’s not one or the other. Shame on Republican officials who turn their noses up at these programs under the guise of being concerned about ‘government handouts’. Jesus said in Matthew 25, the parable of the sheep & the goats, “‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Well, the least of these absolutely includes unborn babies.

3.”if we want to dramatically reduce the abortion rate in this country, we must support efforts to make contraception more accessible and affordable.”

This is one topic that definitely divides pro-lifers. I need to play devil’s advocate for a second: some hormonal forms of birth control can have abortifacient effects. Hormonal birth control is not the same as Plan B, which is not the same as the abortion pill. But what hormonal birth control & Plan B can do, is prevent a zygote from implanting. If like me (and like science), you belief human life starts at conception, then some of these products are unacceptable. Not to mention that hormonal birth control can also have some crazy side effects. I don’t judge anyone for using it, but I am pointing out to Rachel some of the reasons why this is just not a valid option in a lot of pro-lifer’s eyes.

That being said, barrier methods of birth control should be accessible to all, and people should know how to use them correctly. Regardless of whatever personal views people might have about sex, there should be some education on it. However, I certainly don’t trust Planned Parenthood to be the educators. Especially when they are constantly covering up statutory rape cases, refusing to report when girls as young as 13 are brought in for abortions, and telling 15 year olds it’s ok to let your partner beat you for pleasure. Well, guess who 100% supports Planned Parenthood & continually fights to keep them government funded? Hillary. Planned Parenthood calls her “Our Nation’s Best Presidential Candidate for Reproductive Rights, Hands Down.” So before conflicted pro-lifers such as myself head to the polls in November, they should know that the organization that kills over 200,000 babies a year thinks Hillary is amazing.

Rachel is right in saying that neither Trump nor Hillary are our pro-life saviors. I’m not looking for a savior, I have a savior. I disagree with her position that Hillary will be better for us to keep the abortion rate down. I don’t think that fact is being helped by Washington, DC, where the supreme court just said it’s OK for abortion clinics not to follow the same standards as other surgical centers. Are we going to drop the ‘safe’ part of ‘safe, legal, & rare’, too? What about the justices that next year’s president will appoint?

Rachel basically argues that the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. I disagree in this instance. Like I said, I don’t know Rachel Held Evan at all. Also like I said I don’t yet know who I will vote for in November. Maybe I will vote for Gary Johnson. Yes, he’s pro-choice, but he is for repealing Roe vs Wade, for late term abortion restrictions, and for state’s rights on the issue. Maybe I’ll write in some other candidate. Or maybe I will break down & vote for Donald Trump (probably not). But one thing is for sure, my pro-life conviction will absolutely not allow me to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Easter Cake

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday!

Easter came early this year, which happens from time to time since its date is the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring.

Maybe that’s why this year Lent has seemed a little less Jesus-y for me than in years prior. We just celebrated Christmas & here is Easter already.

Nonetheless, just like Christmas, Jesus is the reason for the season.

My coworker is throwing her annual Easter picnic & egg hunt. Last year I made a bunny cake & brought my niece with me to the egg hunt. It was a lot of fun.

This year I am so over all the bunnies.

Easter isn’t about bunnies & egg hunts. It isn’t even about family & good food. It’s about Jesus.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

With that being said, Easter is a celebration! Up from the grave he arose! So it should be bright & fun 🙂

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I hope I captured that spirit in this cake.

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Funfetti cake with crushed M&Ms in the center, cream cheese frosting & malted eggs for decor.

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Easter should be fun, especially for children. But it’s that cross in the center that is the most important piece of this whole weekend.

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Happy Easter! He is risen, indeed!

March For Life 2016

This Floridian is travelling to DC tomorrow night.

Yep, even as Major Winter Storm Jonas approaches, seemingly promising to hit hard on Friday – the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade -the day of the march. Even if the forecast was worse, as long as I could physically get my ass to DC I would still go. Hundreds of thousands of people agree with me.

The cause is so worth it.

March For Life 2015

March For Life 2015, Photo by Matt Barrick from the March For Life Facebook page

5 years ago I attended a pro-life group meeting in college. My friend Caroline was very involved with the group & asked me to come. I did it just because she was my friend, not because I felt strongly about the subject, though I’ve always considered myself pro-life.

During that meeting, someone decided to read the first chapter of Abby Johnson’s book unPLANNED. I strongly suggest you click that link & read the first chapter for yourself. I have not yet read the rest of the book, but that first chapter changed my whole life.  I believe God put me in that meeting & laid this cause on my heart.

It was relatively easy to be a pro-life college student. Sure, most people around me were pretty liberal, but I had a great group of friends around me & plenty of outreach opportunities – sidewalk counseling, tabling demonstrations around campus, bringing in guest speakers, articles in the campus newspaper, etc. I was president of our on-campus club my senior year & attended my first March For Life that year & went to the Students For Life Of America conference & everything. At times these activities were emotionally draining, but I always had a pro-life friend near by for support.

March For Life 2012

March For Life 2012

It is much harder to be a pro-life adult. Sometimes I’m more vocal than others, but these conversations are much more difficult without the catalyst of a campus event. This is one of the reasons that going to the March For Life is so important. It is a sacrifice of time & money. It requires taking time off from work & life & traveling to DC in the winter. Am I going to have fun on this trip? Of course I am, but that doesn’t mean I lose sight of the reason I make such a journey almost every year. I get to spend time in our nation’s capital & reconnect with old friends who live in the area. I get to hear amazing pro-life speakers – from senators to Silent No More. But I think what I enjoy the most is that I get to be a part of something much bigger than myself. And then I get to share about my experience.

March For Life 2013

March For Life 2013

Last year I did not write about the march. I had just recently started blogging & I didn’t want to make this “too political”. Well, this isn’t a political issue, or a religious issue. This is literally a life & death situation. Yes, I believe that God is the author & creator of all life & that He has given me this mission. However, I’ve become increasingly more involved with Secular Pro-Life because ALL life is precious & ALL people should come to that conclusion regardless of their beliefs (or lack thereof). Yes, I lean to the right, but I follow groups like Democrats For Life because it’s really not about politics. Do politics play a role? Absolutely. It is up to our leaders to pass laws to defend life while also providing funding to programs like welfare, medicaid, & DCF. The scenarios that drive women to choose abortions are never easy or black & white, & it is important for the government to be able to help its people.

March For Life 2015_1

March For Life 2015

This year is a little different. This year most of my coworkers know I am going to DC to march for life. This year I am writing about it & will share some photos from the event when I return. This year will be my 4th time at the march; my husband’s 2nd. I am incredibly lucky to have such a supportive partner in life, for the rest of my life, fighting for life with me.

So bring on the snow, Jonas. A little bad weather cannot stop the truth about LIFE from spreading.


 

If you are interested in seeing what the march is all about from the comfort of your own home, please check out the March For Life website & click “Watch the March For Life Livestream” on Friday, Jan 22.

National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child!

Today kicks off National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child!

National Collection Week is November 16-23

6 years ago the church I was a member of while in college introduced me to Operation Christmas Child.

What is the mission of Operation Christmas Child?

The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

This ministry collects shoeboxes – or really, shoebox sized containers – filled with gifts & essential items for needy kids around the world. Once the boxes are packed, shipped, & distributed, teams from Samaritan’s Purse get with local churches to distribute the boxes to the kids. During that time, the Gospel is presented to the kids in their own language in a fun way. Aside from providing presents & necessities such as toiletries, these kids get to hear about the greatest gift of all – Jesus Christ.

Once I packed my first shoebox 6 years ago, I knew this would become a tradition for me. It’s a very fun, but meaningful, way to kick off the holiday season.

I introduced my husband to this tradition when we first started dating. It’s a nice date-like activity to go shopping for the items & pack boxes together. Our current church packs shoeboxes as well, but they do it in July – like Christmas in July! I prefer to do it in November, but it is great to know that you can pack shoeboxes year round! National Collection Week just makes it easier by providing designated drop off locations.

So how do you pack a shoebox?

National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child - Mrs. Dessert Monster

The OCC website has great instructions, tips, & advise for packing a great shoebox.

First thing we did was pick what gender & age group we wanted to build boxes. My husband & I always do a boy & a girl; this year we chose age range 10-14.

We went to the store & picked up toys (puzzles, yoyo, jump rope, & stuffed animals), necessities (soap, toothbrush & paste, hairbrush, socks), school supplies (notepads, pens, pencils), & candy canes. Then we packed our items up in plastic bins. I like to use plastic bins because I feel that the kids (or their parents) can use them for something else!

National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child - Mrs. Dessert Monster

The last step is to label the box. If you give a donation online for $7, the cost of shipping, you get labels with a barcode printed on them for tracking purposes. The best part about that is that a few weeks later, once all of the boxes have been delivered, you’ll receive an email letting you know where in the world your box ended up! In the years that I’ve tracked them, my boxes have ended up in Madagascar & India.

National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child - Mrs. Dessert Monster

The most important part of this ministry is to pray for these kids around the world. Not only for the kids, actually, but for their families & the people around them. It is extremely evident in light of recent events that the whole world needs Jesus.

Operation Christmas Child is a great way to show the world that God is good, God is joy, & God is love.

Operation Christmas Child