For the past 10 weeks I have been apart of a really wonderful book club. A group of about 10-12 women have been studying the book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. (At the bottom of this post I am going to share about this book and the impact it has had on me) But first, COOKIES! For our last meeting we had a Cookie Swap. It was so much fun! There were A LOT of yummy cookies. Below is the recipe I made for the swap and some pictures of our fun night.
GOOEY BUTTER COOKIES with Heath Almond Toffee Bits (Paula Deen)
1 – 18.25 ounce box yellow cake mix
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 – 8 ounce pkg cream cheese, softened
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 – 16 ounce box confectioner’s sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup Heath almond toffee bits
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 13x9 inch baking pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cake mix, egg, and butter. Mix well. Pat into bottom of prepared pan and set aside. Still using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth; add eggs and vanilla. Dump in confectioner’s sugar and beat well. Reduce speed of mixer and slowly pour in butter. Mix well. Pour filling onto cake mixture and spread evenly. Bake for 40-50 minutes. (or until done) ***You want the center to be a little gooey, so do not bake it past that point*** Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
Look at all those yummy cookies! Every single one of them was soooooooooo tasty! I know because I ATE every single one of them (and the scales reminded me of that this morning)
Jami, Aimee, me and Mahala
Our "Crazy Love" book study club. I have enjoyed the past 10 weeks with these women! I am so blessed to have been a part of such an amazing group of women who seek to know HIM better.
Jami made each one of us a "Crazy Love" ornament. I hung mine on my tree as soon as I got home!
Now...for "Crazy Love"
At our swap, Aimee (who was so gracious to open her home the past 10 weeks for this study and be our facilitator) had each of us share something from the book that really stood out to us or had an impact on us. It was amazing to me how each one of us had something different to share about the impact this book has had on us. It has been remarkable to see the growth that each woman in this group has made. It is so pleasing to me to witness their growth...I can only imagine how pleasing it is to the ONE that matters!
When I started this book, I had no idea what to expect...I mean the title alone "Crazy Love"...I just did not know what to expect at all. I shared at our last meeting that I have had a very distorted view of "love" my whole life. I have really struggled with it...I thought that love was something you earned. That if I do enough, work hard enough, and am pleasing enough then I would be lovable...maybe that is not something everyone struggles with, but it was a struggle of mine. So when I started reading this book, I thought "oh, another book about how I can earn love" Boy was I wrong! An excerpt from this book that really stood out to me and changed my very distorted view about love was in a section titled 'Strange Inheritance' (chapter 3) Chan writes:
The very fact that a holy, eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, merciful, fair, and just God loves you and me is nothing short of astonishing.
The wildest part is that Jesus doesn't have to love us, His being is utterly complete and perfect, apart from humanity. He doesn't need me or you. Yet He wants us, chooses us, even considers us HIS inheritance (Eph 1:18). The greatest knowledge we can ever have is knowing that God treasures us.
That really is amazing beyond description. The holy Creator sees you as His "glorious inheritance."
WOW! Isn't it ironic that a holy God does not need me or anyone else, but (and that is such a huge but) HE wants us!!! Not because of anything I have or can do (because I am sinner who is not deserving), but because He considers me His glorious inheritance! WOW!!!! I will not ever be worthy of this treasure and it is completely useless for me to try to earn it. I still tear up just thinking about it...He knows every single part of me...He has known me since the beginning and He knows everything I am going to do...and He still wants me!
Some (Ok A LOT) other excerpts from this book that really had an impact on me are:
~"The best things in life are gifts from the One who steadfastly loves us. But an important question to ask ourselves is this: Are we in love with God or just His stuff?"
~"the American church is a difficult place to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity. The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don't swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally and seriously is rarely considered. That's for the "radicals" who are "unbalanced" and who go "overboard." Most of us want a balanced life that we can control, that is safe, and that does not involve suffering."
~"Lukewarm people think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven. Daily life is mostly focused on today's to-do list, this week's schedule, and next month's vacation. Rarely, if ever, do they intently consider the life to come."
~"Jesus' call to commitment is clear: He wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a "christian" without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd."
~"following Christ isn't something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side. It is not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are."
~"nothing should concern us more than our relationship with God; it's about eternity, and nothing compares with that. God is not someone who can be tacked on to our lives."
~"when I look at my relationship with God as a chore, a sacrifice, then I am getting the glory-not God. Instead, when we sacrifice, give, and even suffer, we can rejoice because we know that God rewards us."
~'Having faith often means doing what others see as crazy. Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers."
~"when Christ says to count the cost of following Him, it means we must surrender everything."
~"God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through."
~"How we live our days is...how we live our lives."
~"If I stop pursuing Christ, I am letting our relationship deteriorate. We never grow closer to God when we just live life, it takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness."
After typing those excerpts out, I decided that I am going to write them out on note cards and place them around my house and car...what great reminders of what God wants from me!
This book also has wonderful examples of ordinary people living out a life that Christ wants of them. Such testimonies! Such impact!
Our group was so impacted by these stories that some have planned to serve lunch on Christmas day at the Salvation Army. That means changing their entire day around so that they can live out a life that may not make sense to unbelievers. Not only will there be service on Christmas day, but those who are not able to serve on Christmas day are going to be serving at the Salvation Army preparing for Christmas day. We were told that not one single church in our area is helping at all with preparing for Christmas nor on Christmas day. That saddens me and shakes me to my core! BUT our group will be there! We are also planning to serve a meal on a monthly (or more) basis.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this study and I am looking forward to our next study...it is going to be on the Holy Spirit (also a book by Chan)
Well...I guess this post is long enough...I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book...you will not be disappointed!