Just A Plate Of Cookies?

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Thumbprint Cookies

As a brand-new wife, I was eager to please my husband with my cooking abilities. I had big shoes to fill since my mother-in-law was an excellent cook. In early December that year, I decided to make my husband’s favorite cookie: thumbprint cookies with buttercream frosting.

Before I started, I called my mother-in-law to make sure I did everything the way she did. I used the right combination of butter, margarine, and shortening. A sample batch helped me to determine the perfect baking time. I bought the flavor of frosting that my husband said “made the cookies.” If effort and care ensured success, I knew these cookies would be a hit with my husband.

Frosted cookies covered the counters and the kitchen table. They looked just like my mother-in-law’s cookies. My husband was the willing taste-tester. He sat down with cookies and milk. I anticipated the kudos he would heap on his bride. I eagerly watched as he took the first bite.

That’s when my perfect scenario of wedded bliss fell apart. “What did you do to these cookies?” I didn’t hear the expected confirmation, but rather an accusation. It didn’t take long to figure out where I went wrong. I bought the wrong flavor of frosting! To this day, I swear my husband said his favorite cookies were thumbprint cookies with sour cream frosting. My husband would have never said sour cream frosting as his mom always used buttercream frosting.

This distinction was noted on the recipe for future reference. I have not made that mistake again since my very first batch of thumbprint cookies twenty-seven years ago. It was a good lesson for us as newlyweds: communication is more than just words. It is making sure that the other person  heard and truly understood what was said. Good advice for our marriage and especially for the thumbprint cookie recipe passed down in our family!

It was an easy fix for the thumbprint cookies, but it is not always so easy to fix other things in our lives. We can follow directions, consult with others, do our best, and still fail epically. In God’s eyes, this often describes the efforts we employ to fix our spiritual condition. It doesn’t work and it will fail every time because it is dependent on us.

Ephesians 2:8-9 explains the reason for our failure: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. The best paraphrase I have heard for these verses is: Saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. No amount of striving, competency, or resources apart from God will save us. The part we are responsible for is faith in Jesus Christ. Genuine faith puts us on the path of salvation and guarantees our place in heaven.

We celebrate Christmas because God’s hope for us became flesh and blood. The Christ child grew up to be the Son of Man who died on the cross as the Son of God to save us. As Christians, may we share this sweet victory and include generous servings of love!

Psalm 34:8

Taste and see that the LORD is good, blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

The Best of Family Traditions

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The online Merriam-Webster definition of tradition is: “a way of thinking, behaving or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc. for a long time.” The extended McCray family has many traditions: Grandma’s thumbprint cookies, Dave’s Fantastic Fudge and lottery tickets in the grandkids’ Christmas stockings.  By definition, traditions do not change.  However, I have found that as the McCray family grows, the traditions are tweaked and added upon.  Each new generation brings their flair to the family get-togethers: from favorite recipes to board games to their stories that become part of the family’s oral history. Sometimes, new traditions are added simply to unite the family together in fun and laughter.

We look forward to the yearly traditions.  We enjoy our family traditions.  Family traditions express who we are through the generations.  I pray that these traditions will always be a meaningful way to share love, acceptance, forgiveness, laughter, faith and sweet memories within our family.

Deuteronomy 4:9

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.  Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

Psalm 71:18

Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.