I am always delighted to host Cindy Woodsmall here on the blog – and today I’m happy to welcome her back to chat about her newest book (written with her daughter-in-law Erin), a favorite recipe, and choosing to grow love.
When an Old Order Amish woman takes a job at a small-town pharmacy struggling to survive in a world of “big box” stores, her motive is to help her Plain community. But the advent of the holiday season brings an unusual mystery to the surface–and possibly love.
Twenty-four-year-old Holly Zook lives a unique life for a young Amish woman. Years ago, her bishop allowed her to continue her education and become the lead technician for Greene’s Pharmacy, an old-timey drugstore that looks out for the Amish community–a group largely without secure healthcare plans. She knows she can’t marry and hold onto her professional job. She’s Amish, and she can only have one or the other, so she spurns love and works toward addressing treatable diseases–like the one that claimed her father’s life.
As long as Holly continues to avoid Joshua Smucker, the one man who draws her like a warm hearth in winter, she should be fine. When something unexpected threatens Greene’s Pharmacy, Holly and Joshua must work together to unravel what’s happened and find the “missing” patient before the Board of Pharmacy shuts them down. As the snows of December arrive, with Christmas in the air, will Holly succumb to the generous spirit of the season?
Let Love Grow
Love is gentle and bold. It’s quiet and loud. It fills us at times with such force it’s as if it were physical. When it enters or is stirred or awakened anew, we’re never, ever the same again—every time.
In our ever changing world, some things remain steady—faith, hope, and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
The Bible gives us a definition of love that guides us to understanding what it is and isn’t—love is always patient. Love is always kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It does not dishonor. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
We deeply appreciate knowing that, don’t we? Love never fails to work ceaseless on our behalf; it doesn’t fail to leave its mark.
Let’s shift gears, and please be a bit braced as we depart from those warm and fuzzy thoughts.
You know what else never ceases to work? Anger. If allowed to grow unchecked, anger turns into hate.
Love is a beautiful, cherished gift, and I think all of us are completely for it filling us to overflowing. There isn’t anything compared to the joy and beauty of real love.
But anger also has the ability to fill us to overflowing. Let’s set aside momentary anger—the kind that flares and is gone in no time. Let’s focus on real anger, the kind born from deeply wounding incidences or even deeply divided political beliefs.
If we want to refuse anger and walk in love, we must learn how to feel anger, work through it, make peace with God and ourselves over it, and then let it go. Much easier said than done, but I challenge us to take it on. If Christ saw us as worthy to die for, we need to see our inner man as worthy of whatever it takes to get free of anger.
Anger tempts us to rehash it, and nurture it, and obsess over it. If allowed, anger and its counterparts will build a dam inside us that obstructs love from coming in or going out.
Whatever we hope to accomplish while on this earth can be done through and in the name of love, even if we need to sometimes outwardly have a show of anger, we do not have to let anger take up permanent residence in us or rule over us.
God is love. He sent his son out of love. The power of darkness was broken by the power of love. But as humans on this planet, we have to be careful not to allow anger to undo what love did for us.
We can’t allow anger or hate to define the thoughts and feelings that live in our hearts and minds. Similar to coming to Christ, we have to do more than make a decision, but a decision is the beginning of the journey.
We do not have to like the person who wounded us, but love must be what rules our minds and hearts, not hate or anger.
Love deserves a place of respect, and when we respect something, we do our best to protect it. When we know something will destroy us if we allow it in our lives, we do what we must to stop letting it.
Let’s fight the good fight, and let’s choose to grow love.
Double Chocolate Cheesecake
24 Oreo cookies, crushed (makes about two cups)
¼ cup butter, melted
4, 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2, 4-ounce bars Baker’s semisweet chocolate, melted and then cooled*
½ cup blueberries **
Preheat oven 325˚. Mix Oreo crumbs and butter, and press into the bottom of a 9” x 13” cake pan lined with foil. Bake 10 minutes. Beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, and vanilla with a mixer until blended. Add chocolate and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, beating on low speed after each egg, just until blended. Pour mixture over crust. Bake 45 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate for at least four hours. Use the foil to lift the cheesecake from the pan. Top with berries**.
* Method for melting chocolate via realsimple: Bring about an inch of water to a simmer in a saucepan. Set a heatproof bowl in the mouth of the pot, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir chocolate occasionally as it softens. When you have just a few small unmelted chunks, remove bowl from heat and the residual heat will melt the rest.
**Optional topping. We omitted this and added a chocolate swirl with additional melted chocolate.
Recipe by Carol Steele James, Feed My Sheep. Used by permission.
WaterBrook Multnomah is giving away a print copy of The Christmas Remedy to one of my readers! (US only) Void where prohibited by law. This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What does ‘choose to grow love’ mean to you?