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Showing posts from 2010

Advent: One Lady Waiting

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I recently participated in an online  discussion on Advent. It made me think.
During Advent, we remember Christ’s first coming. Also, we look toward His second, for which we are waiting. Waiting — that is something I am familiar with.

As a single woman, I am waiting for marriage. I may be active in doing things to help marriage happen. I may be praying boldly for God’s intervention. But all the same, I am waiting. And though I may try to just not think about it at times, it’s hard to forget for very long.

Yet, I often forget that I am engaged in another sort of waiting. As a part of Christ’s Bride, I am waiting for the return of my Husband. 
Am I actively preparing for His coming? Do I pray that the Father would send Him quickly?

Do I even remember that I am waiting for Him?

This Advent and in the coming year, I want to live more intentionally within the reality of this waiting. I am waiting for the advent of my King.

Easy, delicious lemon cheesecake

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Tis' the season to bake. A lot. Here's a super easy treat to serve up when you are in a hurry!

Ingredients:
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons squeezed)
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions: Beat cream cheese with condensed milk. Beat in juice and zest.


Pour into pan. Chill. Top with whipped cream and serve!


You can view the original recipe here.

'Tis the season for hot food: slow cooker stew

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We made a double batch of this stew for one of our Bible studies a few weeks ago. It's so good -- the perfect finish to a cold early winter day.

Ingredients:
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 package stew seasoning mix
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 onion, chopped
2 1/2 cups beef broth
3 potatoes
4 carrots
1 stalk celery


Directions:
Put meat in slow cooker.


Mix flour, pepper, seasoning salt, and salt. Toss into meat.


Chop veggies. Add all ingredients to the slow cooker. Mix.


Cover and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours or on high for 4 to 6 hours.


Enjoy!


You can view the original recipe here.

Thankful

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Turkey. Pumpkin pie. Cranberry sauce. All the trappings of an American tradition, baked, stirred, and served up amidst a collection of family favorites. Is this Thanksgiving?

Don't get me wrong. I love the holiday. But amidst the ritual replay of traditions, it's all too easy to lose sight of the greater truth we are celebrating.

As I sprawled on my living room floor Thanksgiving morning, wrapped haphazardly in my bathrobe, hair a messy pile on my head, giving thanks was the last thing on my mind. I stared frustrated at the laptop screen, glancing repeatedly up at the flat screen TV mirroring my actions on the computer. I'd awakened early to help start breakfast and watch the parade. But now I didn't notice the smell of hot monkey bread beginning to drift through the house. The only thing I could think about was the stupidity of NBC's website. They said the parade would stream live. Well, where was the bloomin' link?

It's amazing how the little things in lif…

Mexican Bean Salad: Had to share this one!

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My mom found this recipe online, and it's already become a family favorite. It's easy and delicious, not to mention healthy!


Ingredients:

Salad:
1 (15 ounce) can black beans
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 red onion
1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn kernels
Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons white sugar (I use Splenda)
1 tablespoon salt
1 clove crushed garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 dash hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Directions: Chop bell peppers and onion. Add corn.


Drain and rinse beans.


Combine with veggies. Mix dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Chill.


Enjoy!

You can view the original recipe here.

Autumn Reading: Paul E. Miller's 'A Praying Life'

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God has always used books to bless me and mold me. The most recent is Paul E. Miller's A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World.

I read this section tonight, thoroughly enjoying Miller's summarizing of the Christian life. It's not exhaustive, but it's challenging. It's not comprehensive, but it's thought-provoking.

I thought I would share.
Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, 6, and 7 is a blueprint for getting in touch with your self-will and letting God take control. Jesus introduces us to what it means to be a child of our heavenly Father. To understand the sermon, think of your life as a room filled with open doors called money, sex, power, and fame.Jesus begins the sermon by telling you he is going to go through your life and close all the doors to human power and glory. In the Beatitudes he says, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). In other words, he is saying, "Give up power in r…

Kitchen trip to the Keys: Too easy lime pie

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Last week, we took a trip to the Keys. At least, that's what it tasted like.

My mom found an incredibly easy and delicious recipe for Key lime pie. We tried it once ourselves, then made it again to share! The second time, I doubled the recipe, and it still turned out.

Ingredients:
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup Key lime juice (about 10-15 Key limes)
1 tablespoon grated lime zest

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grate lime peel to make zest. Squeeze limes to make juice. 

Combine condensed milk and sour cream.

Mix well. Then mix in lime juice and zest.

Pour into prepared crust. Bake for 8 minutes, "until tiny pinhole bubbles burst on the surface of pie." Do not brown.


Serve chilled. Top with whipped cream if desired.

Enjoy! I know we did. 
You can view the original recipe here.

My new piano

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When I was about 9 years old, my family bought our first piano. It was an old player model, having belonged to a family friend. Two years later, we sold the instrument to move to north Idaho.

It wasn't a bad trade -- a piano for farm life on 10 acres. But I missed playing music, and after I sold my second 4H market hog, I bought a piano. Like my first one, it was about a hundred years old. Heavy, clunky, and full of character.

But, like all good things, farm life in Idaho came to an end. I sold my piano back to it's original family and headed east with the rest of my clan, back to the land of our heritage: the Ozarks.

That was in 2003. Since then, I have often thought of buying another piano. But with life as unsettled as it has been, first with finding the right town and then finishing college, I didn't put any real effort into the task. But for the last year or so, I've missed having a piano in the living room. I started praying about it. Being a poor college student…

Another autumn day

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It is Autumn. And, once again, I am captivated by his beauty.
The rustling of wind dancing in the trees and dancing with the leaves already resting on the grass or clothing the naked pavement. The crimson, gold, burgundy, chestnut, copper, and purple creeping down the tops of trees and tips of leaves like the whimsical stroke of an impressionist painter. The sun beaming in deepening blue heavens and falling through the thinning trees making shimmering pale shadows. The scent of earth and smoke drifting on the robust breeze.
I don’t know when I first loved this season. As a child I adored the heat and sun of summer, the escape from the confining walls of house and education. But I’ve always been enchanted by the refreshing cool of autumn, the calm of routine, the quiet of home after the rush of vacation.
This year has been one of change for me. As I gaze in the mirror of memory, I wonder at all that has passed these 12 months . I am no longer a college student, an English major, a colle…

Only one?: God's sovereignty in matrimonial choice

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“I thought,” (the Lady) said, “that I was carried in the will of Him I love, but now I see that I walk with it. I thought that the good things He sent me drew me into them as the waves lift the islands; but now I see that it is I who plunge into them with my own legs and arms, as when we go swimming … It is a delight with terror in it! One’s own self to be walking from one good to another, walking beside Him as Himself may walk, not even holding hands. How has He made me so separate from Himself? How did it enter His mind to conceive such a thing? The world is so much larger than I thought. I thought we went along paths—but it seems there are no paths. The going itself is the path.” ~ C.S. Lewis, PerelandraThis week as I skimmed the discussion topics at a favorite social networking site, I came across an all-too-familiar question: “Only One?”The responses were a parade of the usual quandaries: Is there only “one” person out there for me? Or am I to choose from among many? What if I ma…

Song: The Maker of the Universe

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This song has been going round and round in my head for the last couple days. I grew up listening to it, but it still has the power to move me to tears.
The Maker of the Universe
The Maker of the universe, As Man for man was made a curse. The claims of Law which He had made, Unto the uttermost He paid. His holy fingers made the bough, Which grew the thorns that crowned His brow. The nails that pierced His hands were mined In secret places He designed.
He made the forest whence there sprung The tree on which His body hung. He died upon a cross of wood, Yet made the hill on which it stood. The sky that darkened o'er His head, By Him above the earth was spread. The sun that hid from Him it's face By His decree was poised in space.
The spear which spilled His precious blood Was tempered in the fires of God. The grave in which His form was laid Was hewn in rocks His hands had made.
The throne on which He now appears Was His for everlasting years. But a new glory crowns His brow And every knee to Him shall…

Let my heart be broken: C.S. Lewis' "The Four Loves"

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Life this summer has become a swift monotony. Every day melts into the next as the humid heat seems to sit heavy on time itself.
The miracle of summer, of course, is the transfiguration of the Cold. Once guarded against with coats and scarfs, it is pursued, courted -- dare I say, worshiped. The extra time granted by summer is spent on watery pilgrimages to lakes and rivers. Men, women, and children perform the primitive dance around the lawn as the sprinkler keeps time.
Between dips in the pool and glasses of iced tea, I have also been blessed with time to refresh my mind as well as my body, taking Mr. Darcy's advice to "improve (my) mind by extensive reading."
Most recently I completed C.S. Lewis' "The Four Loves." As many better pens have spoke before mine, it was brilliant. I know it is a work I will revisit over and over again.
I could write innumerable blog entries and try to paraphrase Lewis' prose, or I can simply share a taste by his own hand.

The Road: Would I have made the world just so?

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"When he went back to the fire he knelt and smoothed her hair as she slept and he said if he were God he would have made the world just so and no different." Cormac McCarthy, The Road.
As I sat on the futon, watching the browns and grays of The Road flash in high-definition into my living room, I was pulled once again into the creative imagination of the Cormac McCarthy. The best and worst of humanity brilliantly displayed in the novel moved in drab color across the screen. Beauty. Sorrow. Love. Hate.
Hope, when there should be none. And faith.
In almost musical tones, Viggo Mortensen, as "the man," narrates the film with versions of McCarthy's original lines.
In one moving seen, he strokes his wife's hair as she sleeps in the car and says, "If I were God, I would have made the world just so and no different."
As my eyes took in the story, my mind turned around these words.
How often have I hinted at the opposite in my heart?
Often, I've felt like …

Castles in the Air

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"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." ~ The Declaration of IndependenceIn 1776, when the founding fathers signed into existence a new country and a new hope, I wonder if they considered the way that centuries would erode the connotations of the words Jefferson penned that Philadelphia summer.
Among the smudged and often misquoted phrases is the beautiful and titillating "pursuit of Happiness." Two hundred years after the words were penned, this phrase is the foundation of the American Dream. It is our culture's creed.
So, almost from the time we are born, we are taught to build our castles in the air. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" the chorus sings as we grow to understand that, whatever our answer, our dreams can come true. Shoot for the stars. Better to dream big than…

Contentment: Looking at life with the eyes of Christ

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"True contentment is a real, even an active virtue - not only affirmative but creative. It is the power of getting out of any situation all there is in it." ~ G.K. ChestertonWhen I came across this quote last week, I was feeling particularly introspective about the topic of contentment. It's something I've thought a lot about over the past few months, having spent several class periods discussing it during my last semester of college.Like many people in my culture, I've sometimes struggled to live in a state of contentment. Jesus Himself said "blessed are those who mourn." And the older I get, the more I realize how much there is to mourn over.Every day the news recounts the suffering of thousands worldwide. We read about wars and famines across the globe. Government policies threaten to bring us into economic crisis. And waring political functions in the government and the media reveal a truth that is murky at best.Close to home, my eyes are opened mor…

Words Without Action: What good is that?

There’s a lot of talk lately. There’s been a lot of talk for awhile.

“We don’t want nationalized healthcare.”

“We want the sanctity of marriage protected.”

“We want to save the lives of the unborn.”

There is nothing wrong with these statements. I agree completely with each of them. I think we need to say these things. We need to fight for what is right.

The problem is, too often we fight with words instead of actions. And as Christians, we are often stepping into the fight to late.

The healthcare debate raging in Washington and in living rooms across America is the latest development of a very old problem.

We are ready protest the government’s involvement now, but where were we when the needs of our neighbors were going unmet?

As Christians, where were we when the elderly lady in the pew next to us lost all her teeth because she couldn’t go to the dentist? Where were we when the family had to sell their house after the dad died of cancer? Where were we when the man down the street lost his jo…