Monday, December 28, 2009

Leaving on a jet plane

This morning was a first for my family. We left our rural surroundings, drove to the big city, went to an airport and put our daughter on a plane. This probably seems like small potatoes for most people, but given the fact that neither my husband nor I had ever set foot in an airport before, let alone an airplane, this was a huge leap of faith for us.
Our daughter and two friends are presently on a holiday mission trip with Global Expeditions. The three girls arrived at their destination safely, very excited for the week to come. Next week, I intend to turn this blog over to my daughter so that she can share her experiences (and hopefully pictures, too) here.
As a side note, I need to tell a story that happened when she was about four years old. We were celebrating a family birthday party in our dining room. At some point when we were eating cake and ice cream together, she climbed halfway up the stairs in order to address us. "People!", she shouted, "I'm here to tell you about the GOOD NEWS!" She proceeded to give us a mini sermon telling us about the love of Jesus Christ.
We should have known then that we would one day be putting her on a plane for this very purpose.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Kitchen Disasters - Christmas Edition

Every Christmas morning, I try to make something nice for breakfast. Something nice, that is, that doesn't require a lot of time to cook in the morning.
Two years ago, I made a sausage strata. I don't care for eggs, but my family seemed to like it. Last year, we went traditional and had pancakes and bacon. This year, I wanted something easier - preferably sweet.
My mother heard about a recipe for monkey bread that seemed easy enough. Frozen dinner rolls served as it's base and needed to be prepared the evening before so that it could thaw and rise overnight. I looked for such a recipe on the internet and was thrilled when I found one. The instructions called for one package of frozen dinner rolls - how simple!
I assembled my monkey bread on Christmas eve before bed. Momentarily, I wondered exactly how many rolls the recipe called for. My package of dinner rolls seemed a bit large for my bundt pan. Shaking away the nagging voice of reason, I continued on my merry monkey bread making way.
Christmas morning arrived, and after the gifts were unwrapped and marveled over, I set out to the kitchen to pre-heat the oven. My husband beat me to the counter and hesitantly asked if perhaps I had not read the recipe correctly. Admittedly, the bread DID puff a bit more over the edge of the pan than I would have liked, but I put it in the oven anyway and set the timer. What follows may well have made Christmas history in our house.
This is what greeted me when I took a quick peak to check on breakfast's progress. Oh my!

The timer went off and it was time to survey the damages. By the way, that sound you hear is my bundt pan screaming for help.

Outside of the oven, it looks like some odd sea creature bent on taking over the world, one kitchen at a time.

Mercifully, I did use the jaws of life to free my poor misused bundt pan from it's yeasty captor. Somehow the monkey bread looked even worse at that point.

I was able to salvage the mess by trimming away the bottom part of the bread and mixing up a bit more "sticky" for the rolls. As it turns out, the package of dinner rolls called for in the recipe contained 12-14 rolls, not, as luck would have it, the 30 roll package that I used.
I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Reality of the Nativity

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the circumstances in which our Lord and Savior came to this earth. Appropriate for the season, sure, but I have to admit that this year it has more to do with being the mother of a 13 year old daughter. As a child, I pictured Mary as a woman grown. As a teenager, she still seemed inexplicably older and wiser than I. This is the first year, I can honestly say that reality hit and hit hard. Mary was very likely the same age, or a bit older than my own daughter. Wow. It is so hard to imagine that one so young carried such a burden, and carried it with such trust in God. She heard the impossible and listened. She was asked the impossible and obeyed. She was given a task unimaginable and she saw it through with grace. She put her very life at stake - adultery was punishable by stoning.
Every year, around this time, I love to read Two from Galilee. This year, I read A Lineage of Grace as well. Two from Galilee was a favorite of mine from the time I first read it when I was 12 years old. A Lineage of Grace is a compilation of a five series set written by Francine Rivers. The book covers five women in the lineage of Jesus Christ, with Mary, of course being the final story told. Both of these authors do an excellent job of reinforcing the fact that the events that unfolded in that stable were very real. Mary and Joseph were actual people, seeking to obey God, not knowing how their story would end. The journey from Nazareth was long and dusty. The city of Bethlehem was crowded and frenzied. Mary was young, pregnant and in labor. Joseph was in desperate need of shelter for his wife and coming son. The stable was dirty and smelly, far from an ideal place to give birth. I'm sure that their trust in God remained strong - but they were human, too. Do you think they wondered, "Where is God in this?" "This isn't what we thought would happen." If they did, can you imagine the joy they felt when the shepherds came with glorious confirmation that God was, indeed, working wonders and standing firm on His promises.
Think about it. Won't you?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snowed In

Last evening, our church hosted a Live Nativity- complete with goats, donkeys and sheep. It was such a wonderful experience. Guests were assisted in parking and were given flashlights and sheet music to carry with them as they made their way around the circuit with the assistance of our narrator. Together, each group listened to the story of Christ's birth, sang Christmas carols and watched portrayals of the crowd in Bethlehem, the innkeeper's house, the stable, angels appearing to the shepherds and finally, the wise men bearing gifts. The entire experience was just outstanding!
A second showing was scheduled for this evening, but alas, a massive winter storm had other ideas. We awoke this morning to a world blanketed in a thick coating of white, beautiful, but requiring some changes in plan. There were big plans for today - Christmas baking, matinee movie for my husband and I, and the Live Nativity this evening. Well, since we don't make it to the movies very often, we did decide to go ahead and walk to the movie theater - and it looked like a few other people had the same idea. The walk was a bit slippery, but made us very thankful for our small town. Since the grocery store required a drive, and that did not seem to be a good idea, Christmas baking had to be limited to what I had ingredients for on hand (Molasses Crinkles, by the way).
The snow is still falling and we are up to about 8 -9 inches so far. Hopefully, it lets up so we can go to church tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'd love to tell you these are outtakes . . .

After the choir and band concert last evening, we went over to a local coffee shop to get something to drink before going home. While we were waiting for our order, I thought I'd try to capture some photographs for posterity.
If she ever becomes famous, she will make the paparazzi cry. I guarantee.
Unlike his sister, this one actually WANTED to be photographed. He just has a little trouble holding a pose and my camera has a slow shutter speed. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
Someday their grandkids will get a good laugh, anyway.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!

I've been busily crafting away this week - so many good ideas - so little time! I can't show them all, but here are a few of my recent projects.
First of all, I love to visit Bakerella's website - she has so many great ideas! When I found these Cowboy Cookies on her blog, I just couldn't wait to make them.

And then, I discovered what just might be my favorite craft EVER! And I love to make stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Freezer paper stencilling is just so cool! My pictures of the process didn't turn out very well, but you can find tutorials here, or here
I'm really pleased with how this t-shirt turned out!

My photo didn't turn out for this, but the actual project did work out quite nicely. Puking Pastilles has a easy tutorial to make a reversible cape for your favorite superhero!
There is now quite a stack of presents underneath our rather crooked, but absolutely adorable Christmas tree and I think now I will spend some time basking in it's multi-colored glow.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A "Wow" Book

Last weekend, I found myself looking for something to read (again). This is a chronic problem for me - I really am a book junkie. Sometimes, I'm just after a fluffy, entertaining read to pass some time, and others, I really want something satisfying that will make me think. This time I was looking for something stimulating, that I could spend some time thinking about after the read was over.
A friend recommended (and lent) a book to me, The Debt: The Story of a Past Redeemed, by Angela Hunt. The story is fictional, but the message within it hit very close to home. The main character, Emma Rose, is the wife of a nationally recognized televangelist and together they have spent 20 years building a mega-ministry. All of their hard work is threatened when something from her past resurfaces and forces her to face the fact that she may not have things as together as she previously imagined. Through Emma Rose's eyes, we are encouraged to take a closer look at our own Christian walks and challenged to step out of our comfort zones. I felt my toes being stepped on a bit as I read, and that was a good thing!
The Debt reminded me of a story I once heard a pastor read, and I was lucky enough to find it again on the internet:

Once upon a time, a group of people built a lighthouse to save people from the dangerous ocean. Everyone who joined the group knew their commitment was to go out and rescue people in peril. But, after a while, they decided there was no reason for all of them to risk their lives. Some of them should staff the lighthouse. After another passage of time, they decided they all should stay home and keep the light bright so people in danger could find their own way. After another while, the group was not quite sure they even wanted bedraggled people dripping all over the carpet, so they dimmed the light a little. And after another while, they decided they needed a new carpet and maybe an elevator. When the light went out, no one noticed. And after another while, someone quietly changed the sign outside from "Lighthouse" to "Clubhouse."
Now, I really need to get some more Christmas stuff finished! More on that later!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Circle of Life

Couldn't resist The Lion King quote - it seemed appropriate! For those of you, who may be alarmed or upset at the picture, or the content of this post, I do apologize. I will add, though, that I, while I do not hunt, come from a very, very long line of avid hunters and deer hunting is deeply ingrained in my neck of the woods (no pun intended).
This picture makes me so happy - for so many reasons. Years ago, my father visited the gun shop owned by one of our neighbors, purchased a rifle, and put it away for the day that his grandson would go hunting with him. When my son was three or four years old, he was given a book called, When Pappy Goes Hunting. It was his favorite picture book, and at one time he had parts of the story memorized. He anxiously awaited the time when he would go off into the woods with his grandfather to go hunting. This was his year. This summer he prepared by taking his hunter safety course, even though as a mentored hunter he didn't need to take it until next year, but he wanted to be a prepared as possible. By the time he left for the camp on Sunday, he had talked of little else for many days. Monday afternoon, I received a call from an extremely excited young man and an equally excited and PROUD grandfather!
Plans have been made for jerky and meat will be going into the freezer soon, but this picture will be cherished for years and years to come.