Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year's Eve Birthday

My last post of the year ... wishing Luke a very Happy 9th Birthday! Our two oldest grandsons (five grandsons altogether) share the same age number for about 2 1/2 months, and today Luke passed Levi, and is now 9 years old!

It was a treat to see Luke just this past weekend when his family was here from Texas for our Family Christmas. He is always full of life and fun, and couldn't get enough of our Nebraska snow ... he had to take another bite of the cold snow right before they left last Sunday! Here is the front of the birthday card I made for him, and sent to him down there in warmer Texas ...

The close of another year ... so much to remember and treasure. I'm thankful for photos (like the one of Luke, above!), journals, scrapbooks, blog places, and hearts to help hold the memories of another year gone by. 

This was the year that I listened to some gentle nudges as I was seeking God for His direction at this stage of life, and He prompted me to take from what I have learned (and continue to learn), and share my heart here in this blog place. It has been a joy-filled ride for me as I have followed ... and thanks to all who have encouraged me, including my sweet husband who has always told me I should write. 

And my thanks most of all to our faithful, never-changing, promise-keeping God ... for carrying us through this past year, and that we can face a New Year with peace, knowing that He is closely watching, and always loving and caring for His own.

"The Lord is righteous in everything He does; 
He is filled with kindness.
The Lord is close to all who call on Him, 
yes, to all who call on Him in truth." 
(Psalm 145:17-18)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Weekly Menu Plan - Dec. 27 - Jan. 2

The menu plan for this week is ... no menu! So much feasting last week, so much food still sitting around the house, and with all of our family gone to their own homes, and my husband also gone part of the week ... this week is just day-by-day finding something to eat.

But as I am still putting things away from our full house on Christmas Day (with 23 family members here!), and before I put all the recipe cards back where they go, I want to focus a bit in this post, on the food that we enjoyed together for our Family Christmas ...

Although not the most important part of our time together, still, food does play a big part on special holidays. And even though everything did not turn out perfectly, the overall effect of the meal was ... very festive, and very delicious! 

Christmas Dinner ~ (and my notes to keep for next year) 

Spiral-sliced Ham ~ wondering about not purchasing the spiral-sliced ham next year; just get a regular ham ... the slices were quite thin, and also, as I had it in the oven a bit too long, it was a little dried out. I also should make a glaze for the ham next year.

Mashed Potatoes ~ perfect! I love the make-ahead mashed potatoes, and then baking/heating in the oven on Christmas Day. This year I prepared them two days before Christmas ... is a bit of work to make enough for 23 people, so works great to do it ahead of time. Making them ahead did not do any harm ... they were delicious. The amount I made was just right ... the large oval French White corning ware, and also the round French White corning ware. Usually I just do the oval dish, but our family is growing. Perfect amount ... enough left to send some home with our two sons, as well as one more meal for the two of us.

Gravy ~ tasted great, but it turned out a bit thicker than usual ... add a bit less flour next time.

Slow-cooked Sausage Dressing ~ a new recipe. It was okay, but did not match up to the dressing that I usually make. It was not good enough to make it into my recipe collection ... should have really tried it out before Christmas Day.

Green Bean Casserole ~ a traditional recipe, and good. I tripled the recipe (used 6 cans of beans), and I could have made less.  So many other dishes in the meal, not as much was needed of green beans.

Three delicious salads brought by our daughters. Each salad was so so good ... I loved them all! I already have the Cashew Tossed Salad recipe, but want to get the other two from my daughters, as well. (Amy, and Sara, if you read this ... could I have copies??)
Cashew Tossed Salad 
Pistachio Salad
Cranberry Relish Salad

Dinner Rolls ~ (close-up photo in last week's menu plan). The first time to try this recipe from my mother, which I adapted to make in my Bosch machine. I might try to use part white unbleached flour next time, instead of all freshly ground whole wheat flour, but I was pleased with how they turned out.

Christmas Goodies ~

Pumpkin Bars
Peanut Butter Bars
Pecan Goodie Cups
Chocolate-covered Peanuts
Chocolate-covered Cheesecake Bars
Cranberry-Caramel Chex Mix

And ... a delicious, beautiful variety of cookies and candies that our four daughters brought!

Warm Christmas Punch was set out for everyone, as well. I made one recipe of it, and we ran out towards evening. Should have another recipe mixed up and ready next time. So nice to have a hot Christmasy drink ...

Evening Snack Spread

Ham, Summer Sausage, and Cheese slices
Deer/Beef Jerky & Sausage (from McCarty's)
Apricot Cranberry Bread
Inari-zushi (a carry-over from my years lived in Japan)
Osembei - two kinds (also from Japan years ... our family loves these!)
Spinach & Artichoke Dip with crackers (my first time for this recipe ... good, but want to try a different recipe of this dip next time I make it)
Pizza Dip & crackers (Amy brought - delicious!)
Crab Dip & crackers (Carrie brought - love this!)
Caramel Corn
anything else? ... maybe I am forgetting something?

We had a very fun evening ... playing games, and munching on goodies and snacks. Something we all look forward to on Christmas Day in the evening ...

And now, this week ... life goes on after Christmas! I am enjoying the break from cooking and baking ... and today, I had the special treat of having my youngest son take me out to eat. We went to one of his favorite restaurants ... Mother India, a family owned, quaint, ethnic restaurant. I am not very familiar with Indian food, but it was very delicious! Thanks, Lance!

Spinach Pakora, Naan, Lamb Saag, and Chicken Tikki Masala

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Thanks

Another Christmas Day has come and gone. And this mom and grama has so much to treasure in my heart ... so many memories to carry with me. Our home was filled to overflowing with family and with love ... 23 dear family members shared our Christmas Day with us. And these 23 family are on my list of thanks as I continue counting for "One Thousand Gifts" this week. And I must add one more to the top of the list ... the One who created Family, and the One who is Love, the One whose birth we celebrate at Christmastime.

My heart is filled with thanks this week for ...

Jesus, the source of everything good in our lives, the source of Love, the giver of Family  ...

Memories of the sweetest Christmas Eve ever ... click here to read more of that special day 40 years ago! And because of God leading us to the decision made that day, I have the sweetest husband ever, and we have been blessed with the gift of family ...

Twenty-three around our table for Christmas Dinner this year ... 

Cole, Cruz, and Jacob ... the three sweetest one year-old grandsons anyone could wish for.

Levi (8), Ali (3), Abigail (14), Crystal (12), Brianna (4), and Luke (8) ... more of the sweetest grandkids in the world ...

Lance, and Seth, our two wonderful sons who came home on Christmas Eve already and spent the night before our big Family Christmas the next day ... in this photo helping make the hoagie sandwiches to have with our Holiday Tortellini Soup on Christmas Eve.

Cristy, Carrie, Amy, and Sara ... the four sweetest daughters this mother could wish for.

Tyler, Mark, Joe, and Sean ... our four great sons-in-law; so thankful for how they love our daughters (in this photo, playing a game of Risk together with Seth & Lance)

My 89 year-old father, and Gary's older (single) brother ... thankful they could join us for the day (in photo, Dad looking at John Deere book we gave him, with Neum sitting next to him)

The wonderful blessing of having our whole family home for Christmas ... something we do not take for granted; a special gift from God at this wonderful time of year! Click here to see more photos of our time together. After our more formal family picture of the evening (which we are saving for a future project), we always take a goofy one. So thankful for all the fun we have together ... family is such a blessing.

(One Thousand Gifts #126-151)

holy experience

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ready Hearts

The gifts are all wrapped, the food has been prepared (some left to do today and tomorrow morning), the house has been cleaned ... and even though as moms there is always more we wish we could have had time to do (always striving for perfection), I am ready for the festivities to begin.

As I first awoke this morning and stayed in bed for a bit, thinking and praying ... my thoughts carried me to some recent verses I have read, and to some readings from various blogs I follow. As much as we long for the perfect Christmas, that is just not possible. Things will go wrong ... even though experiencing a taste of heaven (as we are often so blessed to do) in our family gatherings, there will be things that do not go quite like we wish. Or for some family gatherings this Christmas, things will go very wrong.

But the most perfect thing ever to imagine has already happened ... and that is what we can focus on this Christmas Eve, and tomorrow on Christmas Day.

"Because of God's tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is
about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace."
(Luke 1:78-79)

These words, spoken by Zechariah after the birth of his son, John, and shortly before the birth of Jesus ...  announcing the most perfect thing we could ever hope for.  Light in darkness.  Peace. The coming of Jesus into our world..

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Clusters

A very easy, but very delicious little goody for Christmas ... Chocolate Peanut Clusters. Quite a few years ago, a friend in church gave us a tin of these little treats every Christmas ... something we always looked forward to. Now that we no longer see Mary Lou regularly anymore, I make them myself, thanks to her sharing her recipe with me!

Chocolate Peanut Clusters

Melt 8 squares of chocolate almond bark in the microwave.
Stir in 2 cups peanuts.
Drop by teaspoon onto a wax-lined pan.
Let sit to harden, and then store in covered container.

So easy ... but so good!  We have to make these every Christmas ...

UPDATE: Adding another photo (below) of these Chocolate Peanut Clusters (Christmas 2014) - I do make them every year!

Linked to Tasty Tuesday

Weekly Menu Plan - Dec. 20-26

This is the week for food preparation ... for 23 family members around our table on Christmas Day! I'm thankful for our four married daughters who help with the food, as well ... and I will be spending a few hours in the kitchen each day in preparation. I always wish that I could get all the Christmas baking done ahead of time, before the week of Christmas, but it never happens. But that is okay ... it is fun to be baking the week of Christmas.

Some of the things I have already prepared these past weeks:
dinner rolls (pictured above ... tried a new recipe, adapting my mother's dinner roll recipe for my Bosch machine)
date pinwheels (they needed to be in the refrigerator overnight; baking left for today)
cranberry-caramel chex mix

And left to do this week yet, besides the food prep for our big Christmas Dinner:
bake the date pinwheels
make some more chocolate peanut clusters
and make a few appetizers for our evening snack spread on Christmas Day

My daily menus for the week will be so simple that I won't even list them by day ... just some fried rice meals, and homemade chicken noodle soup ... saving on time, and looking forward to the feasting this weekend!

Our Christmas Dinner menu:
Spiral-sliced Ham
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Dressing (still looking for a new one, to prepare in the slow cooker)
Green Bean Casserole
Cashew Tossed Salad (Carrie bringing)
Pistachio Salad (Amy bringing)
Cranberry Relish Salad (Sara bringing)
Dinner Rolls
Birthday Cake for Jesus
Christmas Goodies

Our Christmas Day evening snack spread is something our whole family looks forward to. Our daughters each bring yummy snacks to add to those I will have. An evening of snacking on appetizers and sweet goodies, playing games, and enjoying being together ... can't get much better than that! Maybe I will post about our spread after Christmas ... it is always so yummy and fun.

The Best Gift

The simple Christmas story ... a Babe born in a manger. Simple, but the most extraordinary event ever. God coming down to rescue us, to bring Love, to give us Life.

Pausing during this busy season, I am choosing to read through a book intended for children ... but more and more, I am hearing of adults who are reading this book, and finding the simple Truths of the Bible soak into their souls like never before. The Truth that sets us free to really live.

Some of the first words in The Jesus Storybook Bible ... "God wrote, 'I love you' - He wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea. He wrote His message everywhere! Because God created everything in His world to reflect Him like a mirror - to show us what He is like, to help us know Him, to make our hearts sing."

If anyone reading this is still searching the stores for that last Christmas gift to buy ... think about this one. Last Christmas we purchased one for each of our married daughters & their families, to share with their own children (and to enjoy themselves). And ... we also purchased one for our home.

Beautifully written and illustrated, each story from the Bible points to Jesus, God's Gift of Love to us. "It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers His name."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Week Thanks

(Photo Source: Dreamstime)

Christmas week ... that beautiful, magical time of year. I love this season, and love all the holidays of the year. But ... also am aware that this is the time of year when many in our world experience great loneliness, and when heartaches loom larger than ever. Even yesterday at church, I talked with someone who has a heavy heart ... and I pray for them and for others at this time of year.

Thank You, loving Lord, for ...

holding my heart together during times of great heartache and pain in the past ... and for drawing me closer to Your heart during those times.

the blanket of peace You have placed over me as we experience a present-day trial ... help me not to move out from under this blanket, putting on fear and worry, instead.

the peace and beauty of this season ... full of joy.

continually helping me to learn to embrace my weaknesses ... for they are what call me to run to You, my strength.

our Christmas shopping finished ... such a good feeling to purchase the last gifts Saturday evening.

doctor visits, and some relief for foot pain my husband has been experiencing ... aftermath from his bad accident nearly nine years ago.

the simple joys of this past week ...

relaxing in our family room, with the wood stove going ...

stopping to see grandson, Cruz, and his mommy (a sweet daughter) ... and fun to see their Christmas tree and little train ...

progress with Christmas baking ...

our church family, and a fun Christmas party as leaders ...

macbooks, and a son who encouraged us to make the switch three years ago ...

the inspiring thoughts as we read our Jesse Tree readings ... written by Ann Voskamp

and the great blessing of looking forward to Christmas Day with our whole family of 21 home!!

(One Thousand Gifts #112-125)

Friday, December 17, 2010

A New Name

Forty years ago this Christmas Eve, I said "yes" to taking on a new name ... and eight months later, on August 14, 1971, I took on this new name

(Photo Source: Dreamstime)

Since then, I have used this new name of Warrick. There is never a question, whether I sign in at a doctor's office, sign my name to a check, receive mail in my name ... never a question. Warrick is my name, and I am entitled to all that comes with bearing that name.

Reading in Live a Praying Life this morning, it takes my breath away to contemplate all that it means to take on the name of Jesus. We are taught to use this name, this name Jesus, when we come to God. Now we can approach God in Jesus' name, and we are seen by God through Jesus.

Walking into the doctor's office, the post office, wherever I go ... I am seen and I have the privilege and authority to function with the name I took on nearly 40 years ago.

And approaching the holy, creator God through prayer (as we are taught by Him that is our privilege), I do not come as a stranger, but I come as one bearing the name of Jesus. He is our Bridegroom, and we bear His Name.

"The Heavenly Bridegroom could do nothing less; having loved us and made us one with Himself, what could He do but give those who bear His Name the right to present it before the Father, or to come with it to Himself for all they need ... The bearing of the name of another supposes my having given up my own and with it my own independent life; but then, as surely, my possession of all there is in the name I have taken instead of my own." (Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer)

Loving God, how can we be so privileged, how can we be so blessed? This Jesus, whose birthday we celebrate this month, has given us His name. And with His Name, we have access to all that You desire to shower on us. May I live this and embrace this each day ...

Linked to Faith Barista

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Around the Table

A gift last Christmas, and mounted on our kitchen wall above the stove, visible from the adjoining dining room ... full of emotion for me. Blessed with a family of six children (all grown now), it is true ... "THE FONDEST MEMORIES ARE MADE WHEN gathered around the table". And beyond our own six (and the four sons-in-law, and nine grandchildren these six have rewarded us with, so far!) are our own parents (some with Jesus now), our brothers and sisters-in-law, and a host of other family and friends who have joined us at our table.

Spending time with those we love around the table ... a place of connection, and where we are nourished with food for the body, and food for our soul and spirit. And especially at times of the year such as this Christmas season, our hearts are called to return home, with visions of around the table, surrounded by those we love.

Why do these words bring up a well of emotion in me, up to flowing over? And why is this true for others all around the world, whether their "table" be inside a spacious home, or outdoors, set in primitive surroundings?

My emotions, no doubt, stem partly from the memories of the table that my own dear mother set. She loved to serve, to hostess, and prepare feasts of delicious food. Besides serving many people in their home in Japan while she and Dad were missionaries there, she also served many other missionaries and guests at the mission headquarters there in Japan where she served as hostess and chief cook for 20 years. Her family benefitted the most from her table, of course ... and even after her first stroke, at the age of 87, she continued to serve and bless us "around the table".

My mother's table in 2005 ... the summer we celebrated her and Dad's 60th wedding anniversary.

When our babies began arriving (six of them altogether), it was our instinct to gather them to the table, to be near as we ate our meals together. Even before they could sit up well on their own, we would stuff little blankets around them in their high chairs. We wanted them close by, part of the conversation "around the table".

Four-month old Carrie at the table with us, with older sister, Sara, close by to help ...

The years have gone by, and our family has grown to 21 now. With the use of a portable table, brought out to connect on to our big dining room table, we can all still fit "around the table". A highlight of each holiday, each birthday, each time we gather (whether it be in the cold of winter or in the heat of summer as we eat outdoors), we make great effort to gather together for meals "around the table".

Family Christmas 2009

Family Thanksgiving 2010

Why do our hearts long to gather with loved ones at Christmastime, and throughout the year? Could it be ...  because we are "made in the image of God" ... God, who is Trinity, perfect unity, perfect Love? Made in His image, our souls cry for deep connection, for gathering.

And deeper still, are we made by our Creator for that ultimate Feast, that great Wedding Feast of the Lamb, where we will celebrate and finally be together with the One who always was, and always will be, the One who is Love? The One whose birth we celebrate at Christmastime, this holiday of the year that draws our hearts towards home like none other.

This Christmas, and each Christmas, we pray that all those whom we love will someday be at that Feast of all Feasts, "around the table", with the One who came as a Babe in the Manger, who gave His life as a Gift of Love for each of us.

Linked to Walk with Him Wednesdays

The Name

A fitting time for me to be reading in Lesson 12 of Live a Praying Life ... Christmas, the time we focus on the birth of Jesus ... and in this lesson, focusing on The Name. 

When we pray, we are instructed to use The Name, the Name that gives authority. 

"God does not teach us to pray from a position of weakness. We will be in a position of weakness in ourselves, but in the spiritual realm we are in a position of authority. The One who has all authority in heaven and on earth has authorized us to speak in His Name." (Live a Praying Life)

"Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor
and gave Him The Name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."
(Philippians 2:9-11 NLT)

And this is The Name that we, as His children, are taught to use when we pray. "When we say the name of Jesus with reverence, when we speak it of the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, Lord and Savior, then it reverberates through the spiritual realm as The Name. The forces of evil tremble and fall on their faces; the warriors of the Lord snap to attention; the angels are on alert. The cry goes out: 'The Name has been exalted. Someone spoke the Name.'" (Live a Praying Life)

Jesus ... the Babe who came on that first Christmas, the One who gave His life for us ... lets us use His Name. 

"You can ask for anything in My Name, 
and I will do it, 
so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 
Yes, ask Me for anything in My Name, 
and I will do it!" 
(John 14:13-14)

This is worth celebrating ... this is Christmas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Along the Journey

Reading something that grabs my heart ... I'm always compelled to write it down. A place to hang on to it, to let it roll over and over in my mind and heart ... desiring for it to sink down deep and become part of who I am, of who He crafted me to be. And somehow, for His purposes, this God is calling me to have this blog as one of those places to write. Following His direction for me to share as I journey. For in sharing, we find kindred spirits along the road ... and we can hold each other up as we journey together.

(Photo Source: Dreamstime)

Last night's readings ... things for me to think on:

"One of the great reasons for lack of prayer is the lack of a living, joyous assurance that God hears us." (from Andrew Murray's The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer)

"So the Lord must wait for you to come to Him
 so He can show you His love and compassion.
 For the Lord is a faithful God.
 Blessed are those who wait for His help." 
(Isaiah 30:18 NLT)

"You can be sure of this: 
The Lord set apart the godly for Himself.
 The Lord will answer when I call to Him."
 (Psalm 4:3 NLT)

And this morning ...

Just as each of our cells contains the DNA instruction manual for our physical bodies, so God's ways and commands are "encoded in our spiritual DNA".  And just as it is impossible to live contrary to our physical DNA, it is impossible to separate ourselves from this encoded spiritual DNA. And "in working against it, we are working against our own best interest. In resisting it, we resist peace and harmony." (Thoughts and quotes from Live a Praying Life)

"I will pursue Your commands,
 for You expand my understanding ... 
Make me walk along the path of Your commands,
 for that is where my happiness is found."
 (Psalm 119:32, 35 NLT)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Weekly Menu Plan - Dec. 13-19

Less than two weeks until Christmas ... this week will find me in the kitchen more, with lots of Christmas baking to be done. I've been making some progress on the shopping ... and so, I should be able to give some more time to baking this week. 

My second week of posting my weekly menus here ... an incentive to make out my menus. Out of last week's menu plan for five days of main dishes, I actually only made three of them. One dish lasted for two meals (in our "empty nest" years), and then we ended up eating in Omaha on Sunday after church. There's a HyVee store right near our church, and as we needed to stop there for a few groceries, we ended up ordering their "Chinese Bowl" at the deli ... delicious. 

The photo above was taken there in HyVee ... so colorful! I don't normally shop at HyVee, but it is my choice of grocery stores when I am looking for something that is more unusual, or difficult to find, and they will usually have it. 

Yesterday we were looking for saffron threads for a hot cocoa recipe that my husband spotted in a newspaper. (He loves anything chocolate!) We found it at HyVee, as we expected, but it was a bit over $12. for a very small amount, so we didn't get it. Later, we realized that the recipe called for only a pinch of it, so we could have gotten it. But ... we also learned (online) that you can substitute turmeric for saffron threads, so that is what we did. And my husband says the hot cocoa was very delicioius! (Interesting fact, according to an online source: saffron threads, taken from the crocus sativus flower, is the world's most expensive spice.) 

Saffron Vanilla Hot Cocoa

1 cup whole milk
Pinch saffron threads (or pinch of turmeric)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small saucepan on medium heat, heat the milk and saffron (or turmeric) until hot but not boiling. Whisk in the chocolate chips and vanilla extract. Whisk until completely smooth. Serves 1.

Menu Plan for this week ...

Mon. ~ Tacos

Tues. ~ Broccoli, Potato, and Cheese Soup  (Slow Cooker)    

Wed. ~ SV Staff Christmas Party
             Sweet and Sour Popcorn Chicken
             Cashew Tossed Salad
             Dinner Rolls
             Christmas Goodies and Snacks

Thurs. ~ Beef Enchilada Casserole  (Freezer Meal - Thanks, Sara!)

Fri. ~ Date Night 

Sun. ~ Sunday Chicken and Stuffing

Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls
Apricot Cranberry Bread
Date Pinwheel Cookies
Chocolate-covered Cheesecake Squares
and more ...

So many yummy choices of Christmas goodies ... will be looking through my "Taste of Home" magazines these next few days; always fun to pick out some new recipes to try.

Monday, December 13, 2010

So Many Blessings

Undeserving, and humbled, this Christmas season ... how can we be so blessed? So thankful; yet my heart hurts for those with less.

This week I am thankful for:

Being able to come home to a warm house, when many in the world do not even have a home, but wander the cold, empty streets.

The warmth from our wood stove in the family room downstairs ... so many are cold, without heat, huddled together for warmth.

Having my husband waiting for me at home after a long shopping trip ... so many have lost those dearest to them, missing their husbands (or wives) this Christmas.

A night at the movies, after fast food at Culver's, then shopping, with my husband ... many in the world cannot afford to eat out, or shop, or go to the movies, and especially be able to do all three in the same evening.

Not being limited while grocery shopping, but purchasing all that I need for basic meals, plus for holiday baking ... many go hungry everyday, without even a bite to eat.

Purchasing gifts for each of our nine grandchildren in the past few weeks ... multitudes of children go without any gifts this year, and even without the basic needs of socks, shoes, and coats.

Being blessed with six children, and now four sons-in-law, and nine grandchildren ... while there are many, many couples who would give anything to have just one child of their own.

Putting up our Christmas tree yesterday (photo above), and anticipating wrapping gifts soon ... many will have no tree, and no gifts this Christmas season.

Having multiple copies of God's Word in our house ... when there are many who long to hold a Bible in their hands, to have a copy of their own.

Being able to share our burdens and cares with our loving God ... so many are without hope, and do not know of God's great love for them.

Thank You, Lord ... and give me more of Your heart for those suffering in poverty, in need of the basic things of life that we often take for granted.

(One Thousand Gifts #102-111)

holy experience

Worth Every Effort

(Photo Source: Dreamstime)

Sometimes it is so easy, this meeting with God each day. And sometimes it takes such great effort to pull away from the millions of things calling for my attention. Especially during a season filled with busyness, with traditions, with many preparations on my list getting ready for our big Family Christmas ... coming up in less than two weeks!

But if I had not slowed my pace this morning, I would have missed this ...

"Take time to be holy. The word holy does not mean goody-goody; it means set apart for sacred use. That is what these quiet moments in My Presence are accomplishing within you. As you focus your mind and heart on Me, you are being transformed: re-created into the one I designed you to be." (From Jesus Calling)

Set apart for sacred use ... the specific, beautifully-crafted uses that our Master Potter created us for. Life to the full ... even today, and especially today.

"My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life." 
(John 10:10 NLT)

Quiet moments ... sometimes so hard. But always, so worth the effort.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fresh Every Morning

(Photo Source: Dreamstime)

Fresh, light snowflakes are falling outdoors this morning, and indoors I have tasted some fresh food for the soul ... available everyday, every moment:

"I cry out to the Lord;
I plead for the Lord's mercy.
I pour out my complaints before Him
and tell Him all my troubles. ...
Then I pray to You, O Lord,
I say, 'You are my place of refuge.
You are all I really want in life.'"
(Psalm 142:1-2, 5 NLT)

"I am working on your behalf.
Bring Me all your concerns, including your dreams.
Talk with Me about everything,
letting the Light of My Presence shine on your hopes and plans."
(From Jesus Calling)

"Faith has only one focus: God"
(From Live a Praying Life)

"Have faith in God."
(Mark 11:22)

Our source for all we need ... everyday, all day.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Power Source

There is so much food for thought in the Live a Praying Life study that I have been going through with a group of women in our community. Each lesson holds almost more than I can contain, and I must record my thoughts to help retain these insights. I love the illustration given in Lesson 9 of magnetism.

A magnet ... drawing other objects to itself. A conductive power, passing on it's magnetism to another object when it comes in close range of the magnet. Like when a paper clip comes in close proximity to a magnet; it is drawn to the magnet with an irresistible force. And when that paper clip continues to stay in close contact with the magnet, it takes on the magnetic power of the magnet, passing on that power to other paper clips that it then comes in contact with.

Take the first paper clip away from the magnet, and it has no power of it's own to draw others.

This illustration reminds me of John 15:5

"I am the Vine; you are the branches. 
Those who remain in me and I in them, 
will produce much fruit. 
For apart from me you can do nothing."

I want to stay close, so close, to the source of power ... and then God's irresistible love can flow through me to encourage and warm those around me. Even during this Christmas season; especially during this season of Love and Celebration.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are part of our family tradition on Christmas morning. I should really make them more often (and sometimes I do), but I always make sure that I have some ready for Christmas each year.

This is a recipe that I worked with to resemble the yummy taste of cinnamon rolls that I remember from my childhood years when I lived in the faraway land of Japan. Memories from when I was in sixth grade and my class held a fundraiser, selling some delicious, gooey cinnamon rolls that a local baker made. I combined some recipes years ago, and this one brings back those memories ...

Cinnamon Rolls

Start with a recipe of bread dough ... it can be frozen dough, or a recipe of your choice. Now that I have a Bosch machine that mixes up dough for six loaves of bread at a time, I just take a portion or two of the dough, and use it to make these delicious cinnamon rolls. Today I used my Honey Whole Wheat Bread dough (made with my Bosch machine), but any bread dough can be used ...

For each pan of cinnamon rolls:

Use dough for one loaf of bread.

Melt together:  1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup honey
Pour into a greased 9x13 pan.
Sprinkle raisins and 1/3 cup chopped pecans on top.

Roll dough out to a 16x10 inch rectangle.
Spread with 3 Tablespoons melted butter.
Sprinkle on:  1 Tablespoon fructose (or sugar), about 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and raisins.

Carefully roll up the dough, and cut into 15 slices; arrange in pan.

Loosely cover, and let rise until double.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cool in pan for 3 minutes.
Invert onto jelly roll pan to finish cooling.

These work great to freeze, already baked ... just take them out of the freezer the night before using them for breakfast; warm up in the oven in the morning, and enjoy on Christmas Day!

Linked to Tasty Tuesday

Click here for an updated post in 2021 about these cinnamon rolls.

Weekly Menu Plan ~ Dec. 6-12

Needing a little incentive to be more faithful with planning my menus out in advance ... and am thinking that posting them here might help. I have used many different charts and plans over the years to plan menus. So important. The planning of what to make for a meal is the most difficult part of getting a meal on the table. And having a big collection of recipes is wonderful, but sometimes makes the choices more difficult.

Loving organizing as I do, I re-organized (again!) my many recipes this past summer. Now my favorites are in pocket albums, narrowing my choices down from the big card file collection I have accumulated over the years. This definitely helps with making my menus for the week.

Somehow, being in "empty nest" years, it seems even harder to keep up with the menu planning ... much easier for us to just put something together at the last minute. And one dish can last for several meals. But starting with this week, in addition to writing out the menus for the week in my notebook, I will try posting them here on my blog. Providing a little accountability so I will keep up with it? I hope so ...

Mon. ~ Saucy Chicken Casserole
Tues. ~ Meatloaf  (Rerun from Sunday)
Wed. ~ Yum-a-setta  (Freezer Meal - Thanks, Amy!)
Thurs. ~ Instead-of-Frying Fish
Fri. ~ (Date Night)
Sun. ~ Sunday Chicken and Stuffing

Breakfasts ~ 
Make cinnamon rolls (for this week / and for freezer to use for Christmas Day)
Make Ham'n'Cheese Quiche * NEW  (one for this week / one for freezer for Christmas week)

Breads ~ 
Bake Honey Whole Wheat Bread (4 loaves + use 2 portions for cinnamon rolls)
(using Bosch machine which makes enough dough for six loaves at a time)

Linked to Tasty Tuesday

Pure Silver

"A pure life is the environment in which power (and the promises of prayer) can freely flow", says Jennifer Dean in Live a Praying Life.

How do our lives become pure? "Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart." (Proverbs 17:3) Just as silver needs to be refined, so our lives are continually being refined by the loving hand of God. The ugly impurities need to be removed, and the pure silver needs to come to the surface.

"And I will give you a new heart, 
and I will put a new spirit in you. 
I will take out your stony, stubborn heart 
and give you a tender, responsive heart." 
(Ezekiel 36:26)

Silver is the most shapeable and moldable of all minerals, and as we give ourselves with abandon to the Potter's hands, He can make us into something beautiful. A work of art.

And as pure silver is the best conductor of heat and electricity, so, as we rest in the Master's hands, yielding to His shaping and molding, we become a conductor of His power and love to those around us. And through our lives will flow "rivers of living water". (John 7:38)

Thank You, Lord ... these thoughts (stemming from Lesson Nine in Live a Praying Life) capture my heart. How we long to be conductors of Your power and love to those around us ... help us to give ourselves to You, our Creator, each day ... all day.

Monday, December 6, 2010

December Thanks

Six days into December, and pausing to list my thanks.  It has been a full week of ministry with Student Venture, with family.

~ thankful for a great annual Lock-In with Student Venture students Saturday night. Our smallest group in a number of years, but still, a great atmosphere

~for students responding to Tyler's very powerful, clear talk ... responding to Jesus, the most important thing to do

~ for nine staff and volunteers helping out

~ for doctor's orders that my husband not stay the whole night ... Lock-Ins are great, but staying up all night is for the younger crowd

~ a relaxing day at home after the Lock-In ... sleeping in, resting, after getting home at 3:30 am

~ earlier in the week, an All-Day Staff Meeting with our team of five ... and celebrating Andy's birthday

~ thankful for the time of sharing, prayer, and planning together 

~ being able to serve lunch to our team ... Cheesy Chicken Chowder, and a special birthday cake for Andy

~ a good start in putting up our Christmas decorations ... our tree will wait until next weekend. Hard to believe our Family Thanksgiving was just one week ago today.

~ so thankful for our wood stove downstairs in our Family Room ... we love to take our laptops down there ... so much warmth from the wood burning

~ blessed by the reading of our Jesse Tree readings together, the two of us ... love this season

~ thankful for grandkids living close by ... and having Cruz here on Friday while his mommy worked an extra day during this busy season for her workplace.

~ for 23 month-old Cruz ... posing and saying "cheese" when he saw me get out my camera

~ for God's help in getting out our annual ASK letter ... sharing opportunities for family and friends to partner in reaching students for Jesus; thankful for responses already coming in

~ and for a good start on our Christmas mailing ... hopefully, it will be mailed this week

~ being able to go to 8 year-old Levi's Elementary Christmas Concert on Friday evening ... early in the month; in a recent year it was postponed and then cancelled because of snow

~ sitting in the bleachers with 3 year-old Ali, and Amy & Joe

~ meeting Sara & Sean yesterday while they looked at a house and an acreage ... fun to help out with Jake & Cole; sweet boys

Thank You, loving Lord, for Your peace and Your strength amidst all that has gone on this week.

(One Thousand Gifts #84-101)

holy experience