From My Heart

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6 -NIV

Archive for December, 2011

Life has been busy and complicated!

The last many months I have been making a very determined effort to listen for the Father’s still small voice. As I’ve listened I’ve heard “simplify and cut back”. I have done just that. But, life is still busy and complicated. Many unexpected things have come my way. My husband was diagnosed with cancer this fall and news came of a friend’s illness There were many good things too.
Simplifying has allowed me to focus. Had I not been listening I would have missed so much. I have seen God work in amazing ways and have seen where He wants me to be involved.
Now we have received news that my husband’s mother has stage 4 cancer. It is time to make a trip to visit her and other family that lives in the same area. It will be a bittersweet visit. It will be good to see family members that we haven’t seen in a very long time. But it is very sad that my mother-in-law is so ill.
We must focus on what God has put before us at this time. We are keeping first things first. This is a time to relax and spend time with my family. We have been very busy wrapping up some things that needed completing before we leave for our visit. God has been faithful to give us what we need; focus, energy, and help from dear friends. I must admit I did get very frazzled for a while today. But even in the midst of that God reminded me that He has me right in the palm of His hand!
We are setting some things aside for a few weeks. One of those things for me is this blog. I won’t be posting again for a few weeks. Please pray for my husband & our family. Pray that God will be glorified through this. We know He is at work!
Join me and simplify your life this Christmas. Slow down, listen to that still small voice. Ask God what is most important. Ignore the voices and demands of those around you. Enjoy family and friends. Merry Christmas!

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A wonderful twist for a fruit salad & always a crowd pleaser!

This is fairly quick & easy. Every time I’ve taken it to gatherings someone asks for the recipe.

Buttermilk Salad

Ingredients:
1 liter buttermilk 1 lg. can mandarin oranges
1 lg. can fruit cocktail 1 lg. tub of Cool Whip
1 lg. can pineapple tidbits
2 lg. pkgs. instant vanilla pudding mix

Directions: Whip together buttermilk and pudding mix.
Drain all fruits and add to buttermilk mixture.
Gently fold in Cool Whip and chill until set.

Crock Pot Dressing

This is a very moist & yummy dressing. It’s an easy way to make sure you have plenty of dressing for your holiday dinner.
I add a bit more sage than what it calls for; I love sage.
Also, check once in a while for moisture. You may need to add more broth as it cooks.
What you need:
• 1 cup unsalted butter
• 2 cups finely chopped onions
• 2 cups chopped celery
• ¼ cup parsley sprigs
• 2 8-oz. cans sliced mushrooms, drained
• 12-13 cups dry bread cubes
• 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
• 2 well beaten eggs
• 1 ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 ½ teaspoon rubbed sage
• ½ teaspoon pepper
• ½ teaspoon marjoram
• ½ teaspoon dried thyme
• 3 ½ to 4 ½ cups chicken broth

Directions: Melt the butter and sauté the onions until translucent.
Mix all the ingredients, including the onions, together and moisten with the broth.
Put in the crockpot and cook on HIGH 45 minutes. Reduce to LOW and cook an additional 4 to 8 hours
It’s that easy! Enjoy!

Winters of Life

I never really understood what real winter was until I moved to SE British Columbia. Yes, we had the changing seasons in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. It gets colder through the winter months; even freezing but it wasn’t winter when compared to here. Here it’s normal to wear a few layers of clothing. It’s normal to bundle up children so much they can hardly move, to dig out driveways, scrape ice off your car, to do all those things that go along with snow , ice, and winter.

I have experienced “winters” in my spiritual life too. We all do. We have to winterize for them to be ready to face them. When winter comes it is a time of bleak and dark dreary days. We must face the fact that winter can be hard and the trials are hard. Just like the season of winter, our spiritual “winters” can leave us discouraged, lonely, and depressed.

There are some things that can make the cold of our winter very intense. We need to winterize and guard against them.
Seal Up those cracks
When we are going through hardships it’s so easy to let our guard down. Then it’s easy for the negative influences to creep in through those cracks. That can chill us to the core. It may well-meaning but misguided comments from friends or worldly philosophy. It all can work overtime on us as we face difficult times in our lives. It’s time to bring out the weather-stripping and block those cracks. Spending time in God’s word is the best way to do this. If we hear from God it helps block out the cold winter air of the world from seeping into our lives.
Cold Attitude
During difficult times it’s easy to develop a bad attitude. We become cranky and out of sorts with our family and anyone who we come in contact with. We also tend to complain more about anyone and anything. The Bible has a lot to say about a complaining attitude. After all; that is why the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years! We have to remember that no one else can fix our bad attitudes. Only we can do that. It’s not easy either to adjust your attitude during a “winter” because we have allowed it to weigh us down. I’ve found that most effective way to begin to break down a bad attitude is to take a step back and remember God is well….God! He loves me more than we can imagine and He will see me through.
The Storm Hits!
You think you are prepared then it hits with a vengeance. The blizzard, a real white out with strong winds. It knocks out all the power and you can’t see your way. Circumstances in our lives can also be devastating. Jobs are lost, family members pass away,friendships struggle, people let you down. It all piles up like the winter snow. You are blinded just as you would be in that blizzard. You think you just can’t go on. You can’t see what’s down the road and it makes you fearful. I think that during these times we need to remember that God sees the outcome and His plan is perfect.
The Cold Cave of Depression
Better bundle up because if you are going through a difficult winter season. Those dark caves of depression could be just around the corner. The dark days of winter can have a depressing effect on us. Dark and difficult times in our lives can do the same. They can weigh us down so much that we can hardly move. The problem is that when we are in the midst of a “winter” it is so easy to give in to the “why me” and “I can’t take this” thoughts. Depression is one of the worst things of a “winter”. It causes severe frost bite! There’s no easy way out of depression. Keep in communication with God and guard against it. He will not lead you into those “dark caves”. If you lose sight or can no longer see who is leading you through the storm you just might wander into a “dark cave”. Know the truths of God’s word and meditate on them. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV

We will all have “winters” in our lives but choosing how we deal and prepare for them can make all the difference in the world. So, are you winterized?

Learn from the past- Keep it simple

Think about Christmas past. No, I’m not the ghost from A Christmas Carol. I am just prompting you pause and consider. Remembering moments from past Christmases will help you decide what is most important to you. What was it about that Christmas that was so special?

To some Christmas is that beautiful warm feeling of “no place like home for the holidays”. The smell of baking and the gathering of family is what it is all about.

Others love the Christmas season and what it stands for, but get blinded by beautiful lights and the expectation of gifts.

I’m sure that as you are reading this your mind has gone back through years and brought up many memories some good and others not so good. But what is the most special in your heart?

During this season you see people everywhere, fighting the traffic and the crowds to get just the perfect gift. There are some who live for gift giving and others who would rather do anything else but they are shopping out of obligation.

Then there are the expectations of others. As women we wrestle with expectations of others often. That brings on the stress of trying to be all things to all the people.
There is quest being the best hostess, attending all the functions, the beautifully decorated home, preparing the perfect meal that looks like it could be a picture out of a cooking magazine. It’s all too much!

I’ve tried to make a true effort to keep things simple so we don’t miss Christmas or lose sight of why we as Christians acknowledge it. As I think about gifts I consider each person and what is truly important to them. Shopping is done bit by bit throughout the year and without putting our bank account in the red. Decorations are simple and meaningful. And I am more intentional about my involvement in each activity.

Here are a few suggestions that come to mind regarding keeping Christmas simple.

Establish boundaries: Schedule days to enjoy as a family. Don’t allow the expectations of others encroach on your family. This must be done intentionally or it just won’t happen.

Ask am I the one who should: Are you the one who should host, plan, play, cook, etc. Or are you doing it because others expect you to?

Many years ago I went through a study by Elizabeth George that offered some wonderful advice about making decisions. I am paraphrasing here but it went something like this.
When you are asked to take on yet another project first pray and ask God for guidance. Still not sure, ask your husband’s council.
Still no answer then make 4 columns with these headings, Why should I, Why shouldn’t I…..Why would I…..Why wouldn’t I.
Begin truthfully responding to each questing. Your true motives will be revealed. I’ve use this process many times and it works well. You will soon get past all the static of others expectations and emotions that are clouding your judgement to the root of your motives. Then you will see what how God would have you use your time and energy.

I pray you all have a very peaceful and meaningful Christmas. May you all be blessed by the simple yet wonderful things that happen this time of year.

Another Sweet Treat

In a hurry and don’t have time to bake buns from scratch? Try this……….

Pull-Apart Maple-Pecan Sticky Buns

What You Need
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup butter, divided
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cans (340 g each) refrigerated country biscuits
1 pkg. (250 g) Philadelphia Brick Cream Cheese, cut into 20 cubes

Directions
HEAT oven to 400°F.
SPRINKLE nuts onto bottom of 12-cup fluted tube pan or 10-inch tube pan sprayed with cooking spray. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter; mix with syrup until well blended. Drizzle over nuts.
MELT remaining butter. Mix sugar and cinnamon in shallow dish. Separate dough into 20 biscuits; press each to 1/4-inch thickness. Roll cream cheese cubes in cinnamon sugar mixture until evenly coated on all sides. Place 1 cream cheese cube in centre of each biscuit circle; gather up sides of dough to enclose filling. Press edges of dough together to seal; roll into ball. Dip top of each ball in remaining butter, then in cinnamon sugar.
ARRANGE half the balls, cinnamon sugar-sides up, in prepared pan. Repeat with remaining balls to form second layer. Drizzle with any remaining butter; sprinkle with any remaining cinnamon sugar.
BAKE 30 min. or until golden brown. Cool 1 min. in pan; invert onto platter. Spoon any nuts remaining in pan over buns. Serve warm. They are pefect for a ladies gathering or a Christmas morning treat for your family.

Pie in a jar from Mennonite Girls Can Cook

This is a fun idea for a Christmas party or family gathering. Check out their website; it’s full of great ideas and recipes!
http://www.mennonitegirlscancook.ca
This is not so much a recipe as an idea of a fun way to serve dessert or give as a gift from your kitchen! You can use this idea for apple crisp or graham wafer crumbs layered with pudding and whipped cream.
What you need:
•Your favorite pastry dough
•Canned cherries or any other fruit pie filling. Wide mouth jam jars
What you do:
1.Roll out your pastry like you would for pie. Cut out circles that fit your jars. Push the dough circles into your jars pressing the dough to the bottom and sides to form the crust. If you don’t want to cut out the circles, just push pieces of dough into the jar covering the bottom and sides.
2.Spoon your filling into the dough lined jars.
3.Using the screw-on ring for the jar, cut a circle of dough and place on top of the filling, pushing down the edges a bit to form the top crust.
4.Cut a vent on top crust, I used a little tree shaped cookie cutter.
5.Brush with melted butter and sprinkle a little coarse sugar over top.
6.Place jars on a cookie sheet and bake at 350º for 40 to 45 minutes.
7.Remove from oven, let cool.
8.Serve in jars with a scoop of ice cream or run a knife around the edges and slide pie out to serve on a plate.