Fire creates and fire destroys. During hurricane Ian, it destroyed my friend’s seaside home—along with her neighbors when a golf cart powered by a lithium battery exploded in a ball of flames. The fire department was unable to respond, and both beautiful homes burned to the ground.

My heart broke as she recounted the loss of most of her worldly possessions. “We sifted through the ashes hoping to find some of my mother’s jewelry, but everything was gone. All I can say is thank God no one was hurt, and another neighbor saved our dog.”

At a loss for adequate words of comfort, I looked for help from Hallmark—and found none. Then I remembered a poem I’d once heard, changed it a bit, and sent it to her with an anchor on a slender silver chain.

The Anchor That Holds
When the storms of life catch you off guard
There’s an anchor that holds to make them less hard.
When the hazards of living come straight at you
There’s an anchor that holds till you see your way through.
The anchor that holds–strong, sturdy, and sure
Is Jesus, His love, and His words that endure.

When she called to thank me, she said, “I know this may sound strange, but this whole thing has taught me to pay more attention to what’s really important and how unimportant so much of what I value is.”

Better—not bitter, is what I heard in those words, and proof once again of the great promise given us in Romans 8:28. God never wastes our pain and works all things together for good in the lives of His children.

My friend’s tragedy and her response have inspired me to choose PRIORITIES for my word of 2023. I’m asking God to help me focus on what He values most when I’m tempted to choose what I want right now instead.

What’s going to be your focus in 2023? Can you boil it down to one word? I hope you’ll share it in the comment box below because your word might be just the encouragement or inspiration someone else needs.

When Covid and a blizzard canceled all our Christmas plans, I served this as a side dish at our family’s Second Christmas Celebration over the Martin Luther King weekend. It’s a super easy, make ahead dish and everyone loved it. I know you will too.

Cheesy Bread Casserole

This is an overnight in the refrigerator first dish!

Ingredients:

10 Slices of bread – Captain John Durst if available.
1/3 cup soft butter
4 eggs
3 cups of milk
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon spicy mustard
2 Cups grated cheddar cheese – or blended cheeses.

Grease a medium size casserole dish with butter.

Cut the crust off the bread (I always save these and make French toast strips out of them).
Butter the crustless slices with the soft butter.
Then cut the slices of bread in half.

Mix together the egg, milk, salt, and mustard and beat with a wire whisk.

Begin to layer bread and cheese, beginning and ending with cheese on top.

Pour the egg, milk, salt and mustard mixture over the bread and cheese.
Put the casserole in the refrigerator overnight.

When ready, bake in a preheated 325° oven about 40 minutes or until the cheese is melted and
golden brown on top. Serve warm and enjoy.

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6 Comments

  1. Thank you, Penny. I have never before had a word for the year until now. A dear friend encouraged me to think about it. I came up with many words that describe what I am already doing, but God kept bringing me back to REST.
    I am 75 and have always been very active in singing groups and crafting projects/organizations. I take care of my invalid husband so it nevers feels like I have enough time, especially for rest.
    This year I am carving out time to REST my mind, my broken down body, and especially RESTing in the Lord. What an awesome God we serve! He will give me REST!

    1. Diana, what a gracious word the Lord has brought you to. REST is something we all need, and all too often overlook as a promise from God when we come to Him.
      “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
      There is also a beautiful song by Casting Crowns called Just Be Held that expresses this blessing in song – you might enjoy listening to it.

    1. Kimberley, PROGRESS is a wonderful word to have in mind for 2023. It is exactly what God longs for all of us – to PROGRESS in spiritual maturity and become more and more conformed to the image of Christ-progressing from glory to glory! II Corinthians 3:18 Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Emily, Thanks for sharing DELIVER as your word of the year.
    Jesus is our Deliverer, the only One who can DELIVER us from sin and grant us eternal life.

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