Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Overnight Honey-Wheat Rolls

Usually I use my Bosch machine to make dinner rolls, taking a portion of the big batch of bread dough to shape into rolls. But for our Thanksgiving feast, I decided to try a new recipe that I had clipped from a Taste of Home magazine.

It turned out to be a great choice. Not only is there no kneading involved, but the preparation can be spread out over two days. Mix up the ingredients one day, store in the refrigerator overnight, and shape and bake the following day.

Overnight Honey-Wheat Rolls

1 pkg (1/4 oz) active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoon)
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees), divided
2 egg whites
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Melted butter, optional

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add yeast mixture, honey, oil, salt, whole wheat flour and remaining water. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes or until smooth. Stir in enough all-purpose flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky). Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a well-floured surface; divide in half. Shape each portion into 8 balls. To form knots, roll each ball into a 10-inch rope; tie into a knot. Tuck ends under. Place rolls 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets.

Cover and let rise until doubled, about one hour. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter if desired.  Yield: 16 rolls

Linked to Tasty Tuesday

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Life of Thankfulness

"Rest in the deep assurance of My unfailing Love ... 
The best response to this glorious gift is a life steeped in thankfulness. 
Every time you thank Me, 
you acknowledge that I am your Lord and Provider. 
This is the proper stance for a child of God; receiving with thanksgiving. 
Bring Me the sacrifice of gratitude, 
and watch to see how much I bless you."
(From Jesus Calling)

Beautiful words that I read in my little devotional book, Jesus Calling, yesterday morning, in anticipation of our Family Thanksgiving Day, held on Sunday this year, so that more of our grown children and their families could come.

Thanking God, the source of all that is good, for His many blessings this last week ...

Our Family Thanksgiving together yesterday ... click here to go to our Family/Ministry Blog to see photos of this wonderful time together. So blessed to spend this time together with 17 family members!

A quiet day at home together on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day ... love to spend time with my husband, just the two of us.

Our first week managing with one car between us ... we're thankful that we were able to sell our van (242,000 miles on it) a week ago, and now are trying to make it work with just one vehicle. It was a challenge, but we did it!

A long phone call with a son ... love to hear from our grown kids, especially things from their hearts.

Some good buys on Black Friday afternoon ... waited for the crowds to die down a bit.

Cell phones ... so helpful when shopping; thankful to have the help of a daughter while making gift decisions for a granddaughter.

For all of our family who live nearby to be able to make it to our Family Thanksgiving ... no one was sick; we've had a fair share of colds and flu making the rounds recently.

My thoughtful, kind husband ... helping me with cleaning and preparations for our feast together.

The blessing of so much food ... so delicious, and more than we can even eat. 

Daughters who help with the meal ... yummy sides and salads, and delicious pies for dessert.

Two sons who live close by ... love to send food home with them.

Thanksgiving traditions ... fun to read notes of thanks from years ago. (Go here to read more.)

Christmas traditions ... time to help a daughter get her Christmas chain ribbons ready.

Hugs from grandkids ... so sweet; grandkids are one of the best blessings ever.

Little ones to hold ... fills this grama's heart with joy.

Love in our family ... we don't take this for granted.

Sons to help us out with technical stuff ... needed help yesterday with two things; appreciate their patience with us.

One of our parents still with us ... the other three in heaven; a better place, yet we miss them.

Cleaning up after our feast together ... thankful for everyone's help; much to clean up.

A houseful of family ... every room, everywhere ... love it.

The best of both worlds ... love our "empty nest", and love having a big family.

Joy and peace ... a result of praying instead of worrying (read more here); something I am continually learning.

Holiday season ... I love this time of year.

Thank You, loving Lord, for all these things, and more ...

(One Thousand Gifts #61-83)

In Need

It seems that neediness is not a looked-up to characteristic in our day, but neediness is what I have learned to embrace and long for (and am still continuing to learn). It is what draws my heart to God. And as often happens, the places where we are the most needy are when we are in the midst of difficult situations, times that stretch our faith, hard times ... times when we find that our own strength is lacking.

I love how Sarah Young describes this in her book Jesus Calling as she refers to these hard times, "Through the aridity of those desert marches, I have drawn you closer and closer to Myself. You have discovered flowers of Peace blossoming in the most desolate places. You have learned to thank Me for hard times and difficult journeys, trusting that through them I accomplish My best work. You have realized that needing Me is the key to knowing Me intimately, which is the gift above all gifts."

"The Lord will guide you continually, 
giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring."
(Isaiah 58:11 NLT)

Thank You, Lord, for these words this morning, reminding me that it is okay, and it is even good, to be needy ... needy of Your strength, of Your love, of You. Everyday ... all day ... needy.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Time for Joy

I love these words that I read today ... perfect for the start of this wonderful, but busy time of year.

"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. 
Be thankful in all circumstances,
 for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."  
(I Thess. 5:16-18)

"Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again - rejoice!
Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do.
Remember the Lord is coming soon.
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.
Then you will experience God's peace
which exceeds anything we can understand.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 4:4-7)

Joy, and peace ... what we all long for throughout the year, and especially during this Christmas season. These gifts of highest value come as a result of ... thanking God in all circumstances, and praying instead of worrying. These are gifts that I desire this season of buying, decorating, baking, and celebrating. And I want to remember where they come from ...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Basket of Thanks

Memories of past Thanksgiving Days ... years when our grown children were young, at home. My mother heart treasuring memories of little ones, of family times, of thankful hearts. Of writing out our thanks ... to God, to each other, at Thanks-giving time.

We'll set this basket of memories out as our family gathers together later this week ... celebrating together at our Family Thanksgiving this Sunday. And we will remember ... and thank God, again, for so many blessings.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Heart Preparations

As the holidays approach, my mind becomes more and more occupied with all the preparations. And loving the holidays as I do, I like to put a lot of time and effort into making our family celebrations special. Being blessed with a big family ... 17 of us here for Thanksgiving, and next month, 24 here for Christmas ... means that there is lots to do to prepare! And unknowingly, along the way, I can work myself into a state of hurry, focusing on one task after another.

This morning as I first awoke and my thoughts began to focus on some of the preparations, I felt a gentle reminder from within. A reminder that "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength" ... and "love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31) is still true during this season. Especially true during this time of thankfulness and of celebrating our Savior's birth. And especially needed as mothers, the ones who hold our little ones and our grown ones in our hearts forever, who long to create atmosphere in our homes and holidays where all feel loved and valued deeply.

A reminder to keep my focus in the right place ... not on completing "tasks" from my list of preparations, but to keep my focus first of all on Love Himself, and on loving, on serving from a heart of love.

I need reminders before me all through the day ...

I love these verses and they speak to my heart ... I need "God's glorious, unlimited resources", the "inner strength" from His Spirit. I long for Christ to "make His home in (my) heart" this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. And as my "roots grow down into God's love", He will keep me strong ... and those around me will be able to sense His love, and experience for themselves "how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is".

May we focus on the things of most importance, everyday ... this Thanksgiving, this Christmas, and always. Only then will Love fill our homes and overflow to those around us ...

Linked to Walk with Him Wednesdays

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thankful Hearts Gather Here

"I created you first and foremost to glorify Me. 
Thanksgiving and praise put you in proper relationship with Me, 
opening the way for My riches to flow into you. 
As you thank Me for My Presence and Peace, 
you appropriate My richest gifts." 
(From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

Thanks-giving is not just a day; it is a way of life. Giving thanks all our days ...

On this Thanks-giving Week, and everyday:

Thank You ... for loving us so much that You gave even Your own Son

Thank You - the gift of Your Spirit to live within us, closer to us than any other 

Thank You - the sweetest, most patient, loving husband I could ever wish for

Thank You - our "empty nest" years, so blessed by this season of life together

Thank You - preserving my husband's life in the terrible accident 8 years ago

Thank You - priceless gifts You have given us, our six children, whom we love more than life

Thank You - four sweetest daughters ... two kindest sons

Thank You - many years with a houseful of family ... and a heart full of love, forever

Thank You - miraculous healing of a daughter ... leukemia, and bone marrow transplant

Thank You - for even more miraculous healing of a broken relationship within our family

Thank You - twelve years ago, a grown child come back to You from years away ... tears of joy

Thank You - for trials and pain ... they draw us to Your heart like nothing else

Thank You - four sons-in-law ... the greatest ever, and their love for our daughters

Thank You - for the nine sweetest grandchildren we could ever wish for

Thank You - your comfort in sorrow

Thank You - the amazing gift of adoption ... two little grandbaby boys

Thank You - blessings of living close by ... five children, five grandchildren

Thank You - other children and grandchildren, just a 12-hour drive away 

Thank You - for assurance of three parents, and two grandchildren in heaven with You

Thank You - for longings and heartaches that bring us to our knees before You

Thank You - for extended families, for brothers ... and sisters-in-law, like sisters to me

Thank You - for the gift of an updated kitchen and dining room a year ago

Thank You - worship with like-minded friends, speaking the language of our hearts

Thank You - great joy of being in full-time ministry together as a couple

Thank You - for financial partners in ministry, making it all possible

Thank You - for other staff and volunteers joining us, all part of a bigger team

Thank You - for being able to witness firsthand life-change in students

Thank You - Your unchangeable, powerful, trustworthy Words ... new every morning

Thank You - for purpose, for peace, and for life

Thank You - anticipation of 17 family around our table for Family Thanksgiving

"Therefore, let us offer through Jesus 
a continual sacrifice of praise to God, 
proclaiming our allegiance to His name." 
(Hebrews 13:15)

(One Thousand Gifts #31-60)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Freezer Meal Day

What can be better than spending an afternoon together with daughters in the kitchen? I remember when we first moved into our home 28 years ago (was it really that long ago?), it was a priority to me that we have a large counter in the kitchen. At that time we had three daughters, and they loved to be up at the counter helping me. Just two weeks after we moved into this house, our fourth daughter was born ... and then with two sons joining our family in the following years, I have been so grateful for a big kitchen counter for all the cooking, art projects, and activity ...

And today ... three of our four daughters came over for an afternoon of cooking together at that same big counter in our kitchen. We had our noon meal together, put the little ones down for their naps, and then gathered back in the kitchen ... for chopping vegetables, browning beef, assembling recipes, and chatting and enjoying each other's company. So much fun ... and after three hours, we had 20 meals ready to divide up and have for the weeks ahead!

Our three little one year-old grandsons took good naps, while three year-old Ali played downstairs in the playroom with her grampa. After naps the three little guys were entertained by all the activity at the counter while they had their snacks, and Ali played with a collection of Polly Pockets at the dining room table. 

Ali loves to play with a little toy kitchen that we have, and it happens to be a favorite toy for Cruz, Jake, and Cole now, too. We moved it into the living room for a bit, nearer to the kitchen where we were working ... and this is a photo capturing these little guys. Having their own version of a Freezer Meal Day? (Won't they just love seeing this when they're older?!)

Five yummy recipes ... Chicken Enchiladas, Beef Enchilada Casserole, Yum-a-setta, Chicken Alfredo Bake, and Pizza Loaves. We were surprised at how fast things went ... and finished assembling the last recipe about three hours from when we started.

Time for purchased Papa Murphy's pizza for supper ... and after clean-up of kitchen, and toys in various rooms of the house, our daughters packed up their freezer meals, and their little ones, and headed to their homes. Thanks, Amy, Sara, and Carrie, for a very fun day. And Cristy ... we missed you! Also, a big thank you to my dear husband for helping out with the little ones ... thanks, honey!

And most of all, thanks, Lord ... for this special day, for the blessings of family, and for providing us with so much food that we can even stock up for the days ahead. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Prep for Freezer Meal Day

The week before Thanksgiving, and a week before Christmas prep starts up in full swing ... and three of my daughters and I are preparing for a Freezer Meal Day together here at our house this weekend.

For this first (of many, hopefully) official Freezer Meal Days together, we are each bringing the recipe and ingredients for one main dish (except I am choosing to provide two, as the mom and grama) ... and multiplying the 5 recipes by 4 (one for each of us), we will hopefully prepare 20 meals in one afternoon.

We could probably do more than that, but also in the house will be three one-year-old boys (Cruz, Jake, and Cole), a three-year-old girl (Ali), and an eight-year-old boy (Levi)! I am greatly looking forward to this day with Amy, Sara, Carrie, and five of our nine sweet grandkids. And I know that Cristy would love to be here, too, if she didn't live a 12-hour drive away in Texas ... we'll miss you, Cristy!

Sounds wonderful to spend time with daughters and grandkids ... and it will be wonderful to have 5 ready-made meals for the days and weeks ahead ... one meal already made for each of the five weeks left before Christmas ...

So thankful for daughters living close by so we can do this together ... and for my dear husband who volunteered to help out part of the time with the little ones ... and for the bountiful blessings of food.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Closer Than We Think

How can it be that we can have God's Spirit living inside of us? Even though I know this truth, I can barely grasp the meaning of this, as it is too wonderful to even contain ... and now, as I am going through a study called Live a Praying Life, my heart is seeking to hold onto some deeper insight into what this means.

We know that God the Father, Jesus, and the Spirit, are One ... the Trinity, inseparable, perfect unity. One cannot be apart from the other. "God is One. He is not fragmented."

And to think on what this means as we have His Spirit living in us ... if the Spirit is One with God the Father, and God the Son?

Jesus says "... My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them." (John 14:23)

Do I really comprehend this? Do we live this truth? I want to grasp more and more how very close God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Spirit of God are to me.

In our times of need, in our everydays, in our moments of needing to hear from God ... we just need to pause and listen. "He is not speaking to us from a faraway place," says Jennifer Dean.

Roast Pork with Apples & Onions

Always fun to try new recipes, and this one (from a Taste of Home magazine) has been sitting in my recipe folder waiting for the right time to be used. I had a pork roast that I had purchased on a good sale, and thought that this recipe would be delicious to serve for this past Sunday dinner.

I usually serve roast with potatoes and carrots, but decided to serve sweet potatoes and green beans (with a sprinkling of bacon pieces) as the side dishes, instead. It turned out to be a delicious meal for this cool, autumn weather that we are experiencing these days.

Roast Pork with Apples & Onions

1 boneless whole pork loin roast (about 3 lbs.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 large Golden Delicious apples, cut into wedges
1 or 2 large onions, cut into wedges
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Sprinkle roast with salt and pepper. 
Brown roast in oil on all sides in a large nonstick skillet.
Place in a shallow roasting pan coated with cooking spray.
Arrange apples, onions and garlic around roast; sprinkle with rosemary.
(Optional: I like to add a bit of water, maybe 1/8 to 1/4 cup.)
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours (or more) until well done.
(I made few slight changes from the original recipe.)

This recipe will be kept in my collection of favorites from now on. We loved it ... the pork was so tasty, flavored with the apples, onions, and seasonings.

Linked to Tasty Tuesday

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Week of Thanks

So thankful for the blessings of this past week, for lessons learned, for memories made - a collection of happenings and things to be thankful for ...

For the beautiful barberry bushes in our yard, and for the colors of fall  ...

For time spent with 22 month-old Cruz early in the week ... he had a cough, and he needed to stay with "grama" for the day while our daughter went into work ...

For our new "playroom" that we are fixing up in the basement ... it used to be a bedroom for several daughters, then was divided into two smaller rooms so more kids could have their own room ... then turned back into one big room for sons to each use for their last few years at home ... and, now, in our "empty nest" years, we are fixing it up for grandkids! Cruz loved playing in the room this week ...      

For time to connect with Carrie when she came to pick up Cruz ... I love to see our daughters so happy mothering their little ones, such a blessing! And fun to talk together about mothering things ...

For our living close enough to my 89 year-old father (25 minute drive), that we can help out when needed ... went with him to an appointment to get new hearing aids this week.

For changes that I had to make in my plans several days this week ... sometimes being torn away from our "tasks" and our "to do" lists help remind us of the things that are most important.

For more opportunities to serve family ... one day later in the week I helped Sara by picking up a prescription and also groceries for their family, as three out of four in the family were sick ... and that same day I was needed to pick up something from the pharmacy, as well as the grocery store, for my father, who was suffering from a cold. So sad when loved ones don't feel well ... and thankful to be able to help out.

For how excited our little one year-old grandsons were, happy to see their "grama" ... fills me to overflowing.

For the honor our 8 year-old grandson, Levi, received when he was presented with "Pioneer Pride" award ... he was picked as one of two from his second grade class to receive this award honoring those students who are an example of character and leadership. Very fun to go along with Amy to see the little ceremony.

For phone calls and text messages from my dear husband ... gone for three days to some SV meetings in Houston.

For his safe return on Friday evening, in the midst of our first snowstorm of the season ... and thankful that I made it safely to the airport to pick him up, on unplowed highway, driving 25-35 miles per hour.

For a start on Christmas planning ... lots to do these next six weeks to prepare for our Family Christmas with 21+ people here!

For the truth from a very familiar verse that just grabbed my heart one day ... "For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son ... " (John 3:16 NLT) Sometimes I can be overwhelmed by all the serving that comes to us as moms and grama's. So thankful for this reminder that my focus is always to be ... on the loving. Not on the "doing" and the busyness, but on the loving. Mothering is all about loving. 

For a cozy evening with my husband home, and the wood stove warming up the house ... the 4 inches of snow on Friday made for a "snow day" feeling on Saturday.  Beautiful day ... a mix of fall and winter.

For finally being able to figure out how to put a photo in the header at the top of this blog ... so much to learn, and a good feeling when progress is made.

For a long phone call from Cristy (in Texas) on Sunday ... so good to get caught up with life in Texas with our daughter and her husband, and our four sweet grandkids.

Thank You, Lord, for all these things, and more ...

(One Thousand Gifts #15-30)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hearing from God

How amazing that we can hear from God. The author of Live a Praying Life says, "Scripture is filled with invitations to listen to God. Would God instruct you to do something that it was impossible for you to do?"

When faced with big decisions, when dealing with small, everyday crisis, we can call on Him, and we can expect to hear His answer.

"Your own ears will hear Him. 
Right behind you a voice will say,
'This is the way you should go,'
whether to the right or to the left."
Isaiah 30:21

"I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you."
Psalm 32:8

"My sheep listen to My voice;
I know them, and they follow Me."
John 10:27

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Four Books

Four books made their way off my bookshelf recently when one of our daughters asked for some of my favorite books on mothering (click here to read a recent post). And since then, others have also asked for the names of these books.

As a result, I have felt God nudging me to share from my memories as a mom of young children, from things learned, from things experienced. Just sharing from books, from my heart ... hoping to encourage, and pass on to others.

Will be an interesting and fun journey ... and maybe even a tear-filled, emotional journey. Mothering is one of the most precious gifts from God ... I have loved mothering our six children. And now in this "empty nest" phase of life, which I absolutely love, as well ... I want to reflect on and celebrate this most wonderful gift from God, mothering.

For now, I will share the names of these first four books. And in the future, sprinkled in with posts about things God is teaching me now, look for more postings about mothering.

Four of the many books that influenced and encouraged me as a young mom:

A Mother's Touch - by Elise Arndt
(practical ideas on how to love our young children)

Creative Counterpart - by Linda Dillow
(dealing mainly with the marriage relationship, and also so helpful in setting up priorities as a wife and mom)

How to Develop Your Child's Temperament - by Beverly LaHaye
(very practical insight into understanding our children, each one an individual and each one with different needs)

A Mother's Heart - by Jean Fleming
(excellent insight into developing character and building into our children spiritually)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In the Classroom of Prayer

All of life is a classroom, and each season of life takes us to different types of classrooms. When I was a young mom, with little children all around me, there was so much to learn. So much to learn about giving up of self, of serving others. As the seasons changed, and the children grew, there were many more lessons, more complicated lessons, to be learned. For, as we parent and teach our children, God parents and teaches us.

And, now, in our "empty nest" stage of life, I am continuing on, listening, and wanting to be taught. Some of the lessons to be learned come easily, and others come with great sacrifice. But all result in experiencing more of what we are crafted for ... to reflect God to those around us in this needy world.

One of the classrooms that I am finding myself enrolled in at this time is ... the classroom of intercessory prayer. I thought that I had progressed enough already in this subject ... but God is opening up my eyes to realize that I know so little.

What does it really look like to be an intercessor, to take of my time, from my days, to pray for my loved ones, those in our circle of influence, and for the needs of our world?

In the quiet of this classroom, I am being taught to give of myself, to serve and love others, through intercessory prayer.  It is not an easy course ... but I am wanting to be taught more.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Reflections of Him

I like this little quote that I read in my Jesus Calling book this week:

"All true beauty reflects some of who I Am." (Jesus)

Beautiful things just take my breath away and lift my spirits ... probably because they give me a very real glimpse of God. All true beauty comes from Him, given to us for joy.

I am thankful for the beauty of this past week, glimpses of our loving God:

The beauty seen right close by, in our own yard ...

The brilliant leaves on the chokeberry bush we planted this spring.

Close-up view of the brightly colored berries on the bush ...

Vibrant colors on our Autumn Blaze Maple, planted this spring.

The beauty I saw in the faces of loved ones visiting us this week ... click here to read of a few wonderful days that we had with my brother and sister-in-law as they were traveling through, moving from the Washington DC area, to Washington state.

The beautiful sounds of family as fifteen of us gathered around the table, and enjoyed an evening all together while Lee & Cheryl were here visiting. And the sounds of 5 of our grandchildren playing afterwards (3 one-year-olds, a three-year-old, and an eight-year-old). 

The beauty of worship in song ... the worship times during church are some of my favorite parts of each week. The truths of the words and the sounds from our worship band lift my spirit and speak life to my soul.

The sweet beauty of kneeling beside my husband several evenings this week as we prayed together for our children, grandchildren, and for others ... God is teaching us both more about intercessory prayer. So powerful and a highlight of my week.

The indescribable beauty of God's Word speaking truth to my heart. I started the year out memorizing some longer collections of verses, and then tapered off. But this last week I decided to start up with memorizing again, this time with some shorter passages. I chose Romans 8:32-34 for this past week. My heart can hardly contain the truths of these verses ... 

And a thirty minute walk through our little town yesterday had so much beauty to be seen ...

Thank You, loving and gracious Lord, for all these glimpses of You ...

(One Thousand Gifts #8-14)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pumpkin Squares

I love this recipe! We have Pumpkin Pie every Thanksgiving, of course, but sometime during the month of November I just have to make this recipe. It tastes just like pumpkin pie, but without the work of making a pie crust.

Pumpkin Squares

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter

Combine these four ingredients (using a pastry blender) until crumbly; press into a greased 13-in. x 9 in. pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

2 cans (15 oz each) pumpkin
2 cans (12 oz each) evaporated milk
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt

Beat these filling ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth; pour over crust. Bake for 45 minutes.

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons butter, softened

Combine these three ingredients; sprinkle over top. Bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool. Store in the refrigerator.

Yield: about 15 servings

And why not double it? I recently did that, so we would be able to taste this goodness while some guests were here, as well as having some for a pot-luck meal coming up. It keeps great in the refrigerator. (I recently read a tip on a blog about doubling recipes ... instead of trying to keep track of doubling each ingredient, and sometimes forgetting how much you have put in the bowl already, just use two bowls. Much simpler ... I like this idea.)

Two panfuls of delicious pumpkin squares ... love the spicy aroma of pumpkin filling the house.

Put on a bit of cool whip, if you wish ... and enjoy!

Linked to Tasty Tuesday

In the Waiting Room

This next week's lesson in Live a Praying Life is titled "Waiting on God". I started it a bit hesitantly, as I am in "the waiting room" with a big prayer request of mine, and it can be very hard to wait at times.

But I love how Jennifer Kennedy Dean sheds some light into what is really going on as we pray continuously for the things that are on our hearts. What we observe on our earth is only a very small part of what is really going on. Using the example of light, she points out that "if the spectrum of light were represented in a diagram eight inches long, only one quarter of an inch would represent visible light."

She goes on to explain, "The portion of reality that I can see - earth and the circumstances of earth - are only a miniscule portion of the whole continuum of reality."

I am comforted to be reminded that "what appears from the earth-perspective to be a delay on God's part is really the time when God is working in the spiritual realm, beyond our senses."

We can be content to be in His "waiting room", knowing that He is at work, even though we cannot see the whole picture yet. And being with Him, whether it be in a "waiting room" or on a mountain top, is the best place to be.

"We live by faith, not by sight." (II Cor. 5:7)

"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." (Hebrews 11:1) 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Desert Years

One of my sweet daughters recently asked me for some of my favorite books on parenting ... she is desiring to learn all that she can as she mothers her young son. I remember how books were my lifeline during my years of mothering young children. I wanted to learn everything that I could in the new, and often overwhelming, venture of parenting. And I found some amazing women who had very helpful, inspiring insight.

Pulling four of my favorites off my bookshelf last night brought a whirl of memories to my mind and heart. And leafing quickly through one of the books, I saw something that caught my attention. I remember how a particular concept had helped my perspective through the busy, all-consuming years of parenting young children. Actually, I absolutely loved those years, but I remember that they were also ... "desert years".

The author of A Mother's Touch, Elise Arndt, says, "I call the early years of mothering the 'desert years'". I remember how I identified with that terminology at that stage of life. I loved having babies (and had six of them over 17 years!), and I love homemaking and having a big family ... but I identified with the author in experiencing the feeling of being in the "desert" during the years with young children.

There is so much dying to self, so much of giving up of other things that interest us ... as we consistently, faithfully, take the time to care for our little ones, loving them, and training them, teaching them things over and over again. Our young children need to be watched, cared for, and loved constantly, all through the day (and night!), and sometimes it can feel overwhelming.

And just as Moses was in the desert with God for many years in preparation for becoming the man that God could use for His purposes, so I was very aware that those years of being "in the desert" were also years where God trained and loved me, teaching me to depend on Him alone, giving me a deeper thirst for Him. I was thirsty in those desert years, and I learned more about where to go to have my thirst quenched.

What a lot of memories flooded my heart as I glanced quickly through those books last night. Precious years ... I miss them. And now, I am blessed to watch my daughters lovingly care for their little children ... and I see them learning and growing through their "desert years".

Monday, November 1, 2010

November Thanks

The month of thanks-giving ... and as I mentioned in a recent post, I desire to focus more on consciously lifting my thanks to God for the everyday little (and big) things that often can be taken for granted.

So it is appropriate for me to begin this month with a few of the things from this past week that have filled my heart with thanks ...

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father ..." (James 1:17)

Thanks, Lord,  for the beauty of fall ... one day last week, after a full day of meetings, when I just wanted to sit down with my laptop and relax, I chose, instead, to go for a walk and get some exercise. I would have missed this beautiful scenery if I had not listened to my heart to get some exercise.

Thanks for a relaxing evening going to the Village Pointe theatre with my dear husband, and watching a wholesome, refreshing movie together ... "Secretariat". And what made the evening even more refreshing was that it was "free"! ~ a gift card for a free night at the movies!

For the time to bake bread on Saturday, and for the goodness of wheat grain, so full of nutrients ... divided the 50# bag of wheat into smaller covered containers for bread-making in the next few months.

Thanks that we could eat at Skyline Retirement Community with my father Sunday noon ... and could hear more of his recent trip to Japan ... of how he is filled with wonderful memories of good friends, and of seeing a church thriving and multiplying that he and Mom helped start 50 years ago. So amazing that he could make a trip back to Japan at age 89 ... and so thankful that my brother and his wife and daughters could go along, making it all possible for Dad.

Thanks, Lord, for the fun of seeing four of our grandchildren as they were dressed up in costume last night for trick-or-treating ... and for the reminder of what a gift these two little boys are (our two youngest grandchildren) ... they couldn't quite figure out what all the costume-stuff meant and what was going on, but they ended up having a lot of fun!

Thanks for the sweet blessing of spending the morning today in sharing and prayer with our Omaha staff team ... they are such a gift to Gary and me.

And Lord, thanks for these amazing words from You, fresh to me this morning ...

"Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for His own? No one - for God Himself has given us right standing with Himself. Who then will condemn us? No one - for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and He is sitting in the place of honor at God's right hand, pleading for us." (Romans 8:33-34)

(One Thousand Gifts #1-7)