Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Busy Hands: Matching Cowls

Rachel and Adelaide wearing matching cowls

I have not been able to do much crocheting in the past couple of months. I have needed to rest my arms on most evenings instead. So this month I am sharing a crochet project from last year. I made a cowl using a chunky, brown yarn from the gift basket I received from a sweet lady in Georgia.

This picture of Adelaide and me was taken in February of last year. I can't believe how much Adelaide has grown in the past 11 months!

Möbius Cowls and the One Skein Wonders book

I crocheted the Möbius Cowl from my One Skein Wonders book. I then adjusted the pattern to make a small cowl for Adelaide using the leftover yarn.

Rachel and Adelaide wearing matching cowls

These cowls are soft and warm. I usually keep mine in Cordell's basket so that I can pull it out if I get chilly. Warm cowls are great for chilly Minnesota winters! And having matching cowls with Adelaide makes it lots of fun.

How have you been keeping your hands busy lately? Have you been working on any craft projects?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Live Full, Walk Free {Guest Post and Giveaway}

"As Christ followers, we have all the power we need for all the problems we face." - Cindy Bultema

I am delighted to welcome Cindy Bultema to Cranberry Tea Time! Cindy is an author, speaker, blogger, prayer warrior, and encourager. I met her through social media a couple of years ago, and the Lord used her to encourage me during some very hard days that year. She has been a blessing in my life, and it is a pleasure to have her here today.

Last month, Cindy's new Bible study, Live Full, Walk Free, was released. It is a study based in the book of 1 Corinthians. I enjoyed going through this Bible study in recent weeks. I learned a lot about the book of 1 Corinthians and the ancient city of Corinth. I was challenged and encouraged by the study and by Cindy's personal testimony.

Here is Cindy with a sneak peek at Chapter 2 of Live Full Walk Free:

Now Available from Cindy Bultema: Live Full, Walk Free

Unite Don’t Fight

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
1 Corinthians 1:10

Bullying stinks!

I don’t know about you, but when my kids are the ones being picked on, Mama feels all the feelings. I’m talking anger, hurt, and, in this particular case, bafflement, at who was doing the bullying and who didn’t step in to stop it.

My youngest daughter had a bit of a lisp, and some of the boys on the school bus were making of her. They would tease her, call her names, and mimic her talking with her lisp, of course exaggerating. Spit actually flew from their middle school mouths to my little girl’s face!

She came home in a puddle of humiliation.

I wanted to climb aboard the yellow bus like a mildly deranged mama bear and have a swipe or two at those hooligans, but of course, I restrained myself. (I aspire to be sanely involved with my children’s conflicts.) I prayed for grace, forgiveness, and wisdom, because the main instigator was the son of a friend. Yikes!

And my son was a witness to what had been happening to his sister.

“Sweetie, what did you do when those mean boys were picking on her?”

My usually reliable son averted his eyes and lowered his head.


Sweet Molasses! I wanted to jump out of my skin. But motherhood is all about gulping those deep breaths and praying those ‘Help me, now!’ prayers. “Nothing? You watched your sister get spit on and you did nothing? Help me understand.”

Before he could respond, I kept going (as moms do):

“Honey, we belong to the same family—we are Bultemas. We stick together. Family doesn’t stand by and do nothing when our sister or our brother needs help. Family members take care of each other.”

I was trying to teach my son about family, about unity and how to pursue it in our broken, hurting world.

The bus drama with my daughter sparked negative emotions in me, but it was also an opportunity to remember I am called to pursue unity, with bullies and moms of bullies, and with my siblings in Christ.

“Unity” is kind of a churchy word, but like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:10, it just means agreeing with one another, with no divisions, no conflict. (“Division” in ancient Greek has a connotation of ripping or tearing fabric, so literally Paul begged the church members in Corinth to not be ripped apart.)

But…drama and conflict come up all the time—can I get a witness?

It pops up with friends, kids, siblings, and between husbands and wives. It flares on the playground, the workplace, the big yellow school bus.

We can’t avoid conflict, but we do get to choose how to deal with it. Do we make the rip worse or do we do all we can to mend, to heal?

When he wrote his letter, Paul knew the local church in this Greek city was a hot mess of overblown drama and bitter contention. Four cliques had formed—Team Paul, Team Apollos, Team Cephas (or Peter), and Team Jesus, a group which boasted that they were above all the petty squabbling. Each was sure they were right and everyone else was wrong. (Sound familiar in our current culture?) Church members were even suing each other!

I love how Paul writes his letter with a pastor’s heart, using family language. No less than twenty times Paul addresses his “brothers and sisters,” his “adelphos” in Greek. His loving yet firm tone is one we might use if we were going out for coffee with a sibling or a friend who had lost their way. “Oh, friend…I love you, but this has got to stop.”

Let…“there be no divisions among you,” Paul writes.

No drama.

No he said/she said.

No spitting on each other.

No hurting each other!

“…be perfectly united in mind and thought.”

Build each other up.

Gently, patiently, kindly.

At peace.

Get up ev’rybody and sing!

Okay, so that last line is not technically in the verse, but this whole discussion of getting along in the family of God gives me a flashback to fourth grade. The roller rink, my Shaun Cassidy satin jacket and bell bottom jeans. And “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge:

“We are family

I got all sisters with me

We are family

Get up ev-rybody and sing!”

Great song, and even greater message.

By the way, the instigator in my girl’s bus drama? With his mom’s encouragement, he came over and apologized, giving my daughter a bookstore gift card he bought with his own money. Grace ruled, and harmony was restored.

Life delivers many reasons to be at odds with our sisters (and our brothers). Let’s look for ways to be at one with them, instead. Let’s also look for ways to be family to each other, to stand up for each other as dearly loved daughters and sons of a Good Father. Because family takes care of each other, always.

Lord, forgive us for believing the lies of the enemy that tear us apart as your own children. Help us be peacemakers, drama diffusers, and restorers in every way. Thank You that you designed us for unity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Cindy Bultema
Cindy’s latest Bible study, Live Full Walk Free: Set Apart in a Sin-Soaked World was released in December 2016. Visit her blog to watch the study trailer, and download a FREE sample chapter and set of A-Z scripture cards: http://www.cindybultema.com/live-full-walk-free/

With nearly 20 years of ministry experience, Cindy is a popular women’s speaker, author, and Bible teacher. But don’t let her cheerful smile fool you—Cindy has endured single parenting, overcome bondage to addiction, and survived tragic loss. Cindy lives in Michigan with her husband and their four kids. Most days you can find Cindy walking her beagle Rocky, attending one of her boys’ hockey games, or serving hot lunch at her kids’ school. Connect with Cindy at www.cindybultema.com.

Live Full, Walk Free study guide

Thomas Nelson has offered to give away a Live Full, Walk Free Bible study book to one of you! You may enter using the Rafflecopter form below! The winner will be notified by email. Please note, this giveaway is open to US residents only.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Marriage, Chronic Illness, Christ, and the Church

Our wedding day in 2002

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. 
Ephesians 5:22-33

Will and Rachel

Last week my husband, Will, and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. I look back with gratitude on the years we have shared together, and I thank the Lord for the blessings that we have experienced in our marriage affected by chronic illness.

I will never forget the wedding card given to us by a dear family that I babysat for as a teenager. In the card, they wrote, “We pray that God will bless your marriage such that it will be an example of Christ and His church.” Their prayer was a wonderful, biblical prayer. But, little did I know how God would so clearly answer that prayer!

When we married in 2002, I already had a chronic illness. At that time, I was still able to attend college, and after graduating I was able to work a part-time job for a while. However, less than two years after getting married, my health deteriorated to the point that I became disabled and homebound.

Suddenly, I needed my husband to do basic personal tasks and household chores that I previously could take care of on my own. I needed his help with cooking, cleaning, laundry, and shopping. I needed his help with transportation and maneuvering my wheelchair. There were even times when I needed help with personal care. And he was always faithful to help me.

Each day, Will sacrifices his comfort in order to care for my needs and perform the mundane household chores. As he faithfully serves me, he is an example of the sacrificial love of Christ. He shows me a small reflection of the great love that Christ showed me when He gave Himself on the cross for my sins. It is an incredible gift to be reminded day after day of the love of Christ through my husband’s service to me.

My husband has a high calling to display the love that Christ has for the church. I, too, have been given a high calling. As I respect and submit to my husband, I have the privilege of displaying the beauty of the church submitting to Christ. It is an honor to respect and submit to my husband as to the Lord.

Will and I are certainly not perfect, but I hope and pray that our marriage is a lovely picture of the gospel to those who see us. If our marriage can give a glimpse of the beauty of the gospel to a watching world, and if our marriage brings glory to the Lord, then all the difficulties of marriage with a chronic illness are more than worth it!

Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church. A godly marriage proclaims the gospel to the world. A chronic illness, or disability, in marriage does not mar that picture. A chronic illness or disability can, in fact, enhance the picture of the gospel!

How have you seen the gospel put on display through a marriage affected by a disability? If you are in a marriage affected by a disability, how does your marriage portray a picture of the gospel?

This article was originally posted on The Irresistible Church blog.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Top Ten Blog Posts of 2016

Cranberry Tea Time: Top Ten Blog Posts of 2016

Hello Friends!

Thank you for coming to Cranberry Tea Time this year. I am thankful for all of you! I'm thankful for those of you who comment or email me. I'm thankful for those of you who share my blog posts on social media. And I am thankful for those of you who come here and read quietly, even if I may never know your name. Thanks for being a part of the Cranberry Tea Time community.

Want to know what your favorite posts were from this year? Here are the ones that had the most views and shares.

Top Ten Blog Posts of 2016:

I have been making a list of blog post topics for next year, and some of these ideas come directly from emails from readers. If you have something you'd like to hear from me about in a blog post, let me know!

I wish you all a happy new year! See you in 2017!

Blessings and joy,

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas! Hope Is Here!

Mary holding Immanuel, background image of cross, empty tomb, and Jesus on a white horse

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

Merry Christmas! Hope Is Here! Truth Has Come!

Jesus came for you, and He came for me. He came as Immanuel, God With Us. He came to live a sinless life and die on the cross to take the punishment that you and I deserve for our many sins. He absorbed the wrath of God in our place. He rose again from the dead, and He is now in Heaven preparing a place for all who will believe in Him. Have you believed on the Lord Jesus?

I invite you to watch this animated video that beautifully illustrates why Jesus came to earth. If you are reading this in an email, please click over to the blog to see the video.

Close By - An Animation by Full of Eyes

These are the Scripture verses that you will see during this song and animation:
Their sin is written with a pen of iron; with a point of diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart… Jeremiah 17:1
He is the radiance of the glory of God… and he upholds the universe by the word of his power… Hebrews 1:3 
Your hurt is incurable,
    your injury beyond healing...
because your guilt is great,
    and your sins so many.
Jeremiah 30:12-14 
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the wrath-absorbing sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10

Dear friend, do you know Jesus as your Savior? If you don't know Jesus, please email me! I would love to tell you more about Him so that you can know Him too. He has changed my life, and He can change your life too. You need Jesus! He is the one who makes each day worth living.

Merry Christmas! Hope is here! Truth has come!
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