Friday, December 13, 2013

My favorite party of the year


 I shared this pic last night on instagram and the reason behind it and so many of you shared you were inspired to do the same thing next year soooo…. 
I thought I'd repost a post I wrote about it a couple of years ago to make it easier for y'all to find on my blog.  When you get to the end I'll share a pic or two from last year's party and last night's.
Oh…and excuse the weird editing of pics I was digging two years ago. Geesh. 

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Y'all know I love a party!
If you know me personally or been following my blog for any amount of time, then you know we throw parties around here for just about anything. I don't know if it's my Louisiana roots or what...but I don't need much of an excuse to whoooop it up big time!

But this past Tuesday, I hosted my favorite party.  I look forward to it all year!
I call it my "Keepin Jesus the Reason for the Season" Party.

The Lord birthed it in my heart many years ago when my husband was pastoring our first church. I was working in a friends boutique a couple days of week to help her during the holiday season. Her store was a-maz-ing. It was one of the very first of its kind and it was filled from floor to ceiling with quirky, trendy, one of a kind, amazing GORGEOUSNESS!!  I mean everything in there sparkled and glittered  and it all screamed.."you know you want me...you gotta have me...you know you can't live without me" in every corner you turned in this shop!

Well, don't get me wrong...I don't think there is a thing wrong with sparkly, pretty things....but as I was surrounded by it..saturated with it..  seeing the hunger of the people each day wanting MORE and spending SO much money to get it...well the Lord began to work in my heart that year about reminding me of getting back to the basics of Christmas...
back to the TRUTH of Christmas...
HIM!

** I didn't share when I first wrote this post, that part of what inspired me was a particular customer who had come into the store on a regular basis and would spend money like water on decorations and gifts.  She had come in one day and was wanting a gift for a Christmas party where they would be exchanging Dirty Santa gifts….you know…where you can steal a gift from another person.  Well she said she wanted to get THE gift that everyone would want to steal.  She told me she had to have the best and didn't care what she spent on it…to just  make sure it was to die for.  Well….that resonated in my heart and just burdened my heart.  I still think about her 13 years later.

So... I threw my first "Keepin Jesus the Reason for the Season Party" that year.
I invited all the ladies and asked them to bring a simple gift that represented their walk with the Lord during the year...something that would reflect what He was doing in their lives and how He was at work in their hearts.   Well, let me tell you...that night rocked my world!!  
What a blessing to hear testimony after testimony of what the Lord had been doing!

As the ladies came in with their gifts, I would put a sticker with a number on it and put it under the tree.  After we ate and fellowshipped awhile, I  have each lady draw a number from a bag (one number for however many gifts were brought).  The lady who drew #1 would then open it and then the lady who had brought that gift would then share the meaning behind it and why she chose it.   We do this until each gift has been opened and all the ladies have shared.

The creativity of the ladies was incredible!  
One of my best friends, who is like a tenacious little bulldog when it comes to her boldness for the Lord, ...well, she brought a turtle one year (not a real one!) and it represented how the Lord was teaching her how important consistency was in her walk..to be slow and steady like the tortoise and not to be super fast and burn out while serving Him. 
 Consistency....
to finish her race WELL.
I now can't see a turtle and not think of her and that spiritual nugget of wisdom!

I could go on and on with examples of the creativity over the years but it would take forever, so I am gonna take you to my party this Tuesday...

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Did you read the letter I wrote to myself?
Well, you can {here} if  you want to..
Ironically, my cake DID flop! lol
But, it didn't matter...I knew the night wasn't about my baking skills (or lack of them).
I stayed true to the talk I had with myself and kept it on track with WHO it was about...

When my 3 layered cake began to slide....
I just made it into a "dump cake".
As my husband and daughter were witnessing the whole thing,  I said, "No problem..we will just have what classy people call a "Trifle dish" and then Lydia said, "well, what do WE call them?"  Then my husband said "Dump cakes"....  we got a good giggle. 
Guess we are more Country than Classy :)


I kept the menu super simple...homemade potato soup out of Styrofoam bowls...

..a few chicken salad sandwiches with chips and dip and we were all set and ready to get on with the GOOD STUFF!!...


There were thirteen ladies so I can't share all of the awesome and creative gifts that were brought. 
 But I will share what I received.

 This was from last year but I have it sitting out and I love and treasure it.
It was from Ms Pat.. she shared that she wanted to desire more and more of Lord..to pant for Him as the deer pants at the water brooks as Psalm 42 says.

She made it herself and I love the vintagey feel of it.
It's a such a great reminder to me as to what I am desiring most...


 This year, I received this...

 A planner from Janet. She told us she almost brought a plate to represent that how "full her plate" is but went with the planner cuz the Lord is teaching her about prioritizing her time...only saying yes to things HE has designed for her...learning its OK to say no if she hasn't heard from Him on a matter...and desiring to fill her calender with things that have eternal value.

Well, the Lord in His sovereignty made sure the planner AND the meaning behind it ended up with me!  As I dive into this new year..I want the same thing! To quit wasting time on what He hasn't ordained for me and do what will last throughout eternity!!
(Plus, I have a wedding to plan..my daughter has chosen APRIL.
 Yes I know that is only 4 months. sigh.)


It was a wonderful night. A refreshing night.
We shed tears...lots of them.
We laughed....really hard.
And we cried some more.
We ended the night in prayer, thanking Him for transforming our lives and that He would choose to come to this world so many years ago and humble Himself so that we can experience the freedom and joy of salvation in Him.
  WOWZA! How incredible.

As I said,  this is THE party of the year for me.  
I love hearing how great our God is and how He is at work. 
 Seeing the ladies growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord  is the best gift ever.
(2 Peter 3:18)

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This was from last years party.  This gift that someone brought just blessed me so much. It represented the freedom from years and years of unforgivness she had harbored in her heart toward someone and how when she repented of that, through God's grace in her life, she felt like a bird being set free from a cage!   I loved it!  And it had been such a blessing seeing the Lord restore this relationship!  


This was the gift I received last year and it was one of my all time faves.  I'm not gonna lie, when I opened it I was like, huh?  A silver walnut?  
But then Kate began to share the meaning behind it and oh my goodness.  I loved it.

She and her husband were newly married last year and she shared that celebrating family traditions had become so important to her. She was wanting to start some new traditions with her husband but also carry on some old traditions she had growing up.   Her granddad always gave them a painted walnut each year.  She said the first year he did it, she was six years old and she was so upset because it was a measly little walnut.  But little did she know what was inside…  

A $100 dollar bill!
He wanted to teach them the value of not judging everything by what you can only see on the outside.  And that it's what is on the inside that counts.  This wise old grandpa kept up the tradition until he passed away in January of 2006.  

Kate didn't have a $100 dollar bill inside hers of course but the impact was the same.
Such a great lesson.
And such a great tradition.


This years party we were few in number but God's presence was so strong.
This was my gift that I brought. I forgot to take a picture of it before I wrapped it.

 But what was inside was a mirror
The kind of mirror that magnifies stuff 10 times. The kind that exposes all the blemishes and nothing is hidden from sight when you look into it. It can startle you when you see yourself that up close.  And that's exactly what God did recently  to me using an indecent in my life.  It cause due to look closer at my hear and it really exposed some gross and yucky stuff and attitudes that I needed to see  for what they really were… sin.  It made me think of Hebrews 4:12-13… "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit and joints  and marrow, and it is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."   I am so thankful He doesn't leave me to myself but in His mercy He exposes my sin and pours grace into my life and changes me to be more like Him.  Hallelujah!   (I also had it wrapped in a dish towel because part of what He revealed to me is that I need to be more of a hands on_get dirty washing the feet of the disciples _ kind of servant.) 

And last thing before I go…
This is the gift I received!
A mini flashlight!

Sweet Mama Rob who brought it is one of the greatest examples of a servant I know! She is always doing for others. Always.  She is always asking how she can help…she doesn't wait until you come to her.  I want to be more like her.   I pray I am even half as active as she is when I am 78 years old like her.


What blessed me is the verse that prompted her to choose a flashlight as her gift.
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."  Matthew 5 :16
Aghh.. So perfect.  It couldn't have been more perfectly chosen for me.
I so want to make Him known with all that I do.

And the sweet thing about these fellowships…year after year…Each lady goes home with a gift that ministers to her heart and has a tangible reminder of the message every time she looks at or uses the gift.  It's sooo good.  We always close out the night in prayer thanking the Lord for the work He is doing in our lives  with great anticipation of the year ahead.

Well there you have it!  I hope this helps those of you who said they wanted to try this too. I  would love to hear about your time of fellowship and testimony if any of you used this idea this year! Such a joy indeed!


 


7 comments:

  1. Dear, what a lovely post and what a beautiful party! I speak a different language, and I can't take all its nuances, those that give it color , but I read your joy. I love the composition of the deer at the source and the nut, with the message they bring with them. Thanks for sharing

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  2. Oh, what a great idea!! I can only imagine what a special time it is to hear how the Lord is at work in each one's life. Thanks for sharing and Christmas blessings galore!

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  3. Nice post great blog thanks for sharing valuable information.

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  4. I'm definitely tucking this away for next year. I love it...I read this post yesterday, but I woke up thinking about the walnut, the flashlight and the bird. Such a wonderful idea! I can hardly wait for next Christmas : )

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  5. stephanie, this has me written all over it. i love to host gatherings that are creative and meaningful. that you still see these items and remember their significance years later is fantastic. they are memorial markers! i'm so going to spread this sweet idea of yours to cali!

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  6. Dear Stephanie,
    I have been following you for a little while now on Instagram and I've never commented but I just wanted you to know how much you inspire me! I look forward to your pictures and your word- I am always encouraged! You are beautiful inside and outside!

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  7. Dear Stephanie,
    I have been following you awhile on Instagram but never commented- I just wanted to let you know what an inspiration you are to me! I look forward to your pictures but also your word -I am always encouraged!! What a witness for Christ you are! Your light IS shining! :) Blessings...

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