Monthly Archives: March 2016

M’m! M’m! Monday 3/28/16

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“I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT)

There I was, standing in the middle of my kitchen shaking…shaking…shaking… but the cake would not come out of the pan and land on the plate like it was supposed to.  I’d followed the recipe and its not like I hadn’t made a pound cake before, but despite my aggressive attempts, the dessert I was to take to Easter dinner held tight.  Knife around the edges….shake again……no luck! Clunking on the counter…..knife around the edge again…..shake….shake….AND… out it came. Not only did my cake break free, it broke into many pieces! What an unexpected and unwanted mess!  Upon further reflection I realized that while I had greased the Bundt pan I’d left out an important step.  I had forgotten to flour it. My cake was doomed from the beginning.

Like a puzzle, I pieced it together the best I could and drizzled the glaze over the top which thankfully acted as a sort of sugary camouflage. Hesitantly, I placed it on the dessert table right next to a professional looking chocolate cake and a plate of fun, creative fudge. My best intentions lay on that plate reminding me that things don’t always turn out like I plan.

Isn’t that life?  We try and follow the “recipe” for being a good person and still Bad. Things. Happen. We’re stuck. Can’t move. Feels like we’ve had a knife through our heart.  Our whole world is shaken up and we fall to pieces.  WE were doomed from the beginning because we miss an important step.  Jesus.  We’re reminded that life is hard, our plans go awry and that we can never be good enough.  What a blessing that HE is! Jesus’ body was broken for us so that He can take all of our broken pieces and through grace, turn them into something beautiful! (No sugary camouflage needed!) That’s the Glory of the Resurrection!

Well, thankfully my cake tasted better than it looked so thought I’d share the recipe with you today.  Its hint of lemon and fresh strawberries make it a perfect Spring dessert. Just DON’T FORGET TO FLOUR THE PAN!!! Enjoy!

Fresh Strawberry Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of butter or margarine
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs (I use extra large)
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice, divided
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz. plain or vanilla yogurt (I used vanilla)
  • 12 oz. fresh strawberries, diced
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease and FLOUR a 10 inch Bundt pan
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, then stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
  • Add salt and baking soda and lemon zest.
  • Alternate beating in 2 1/4 cups flour and the yogurt, mixing until incorporated.
  • Toss the diced strawberries with the remaining 1/4 cup flour and gently mix them into the batter.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool 20 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a plate or rack to cool completely.
  • Once cooled, whisk together the remaining 2 Tablespoons lemon juice and the powdered sugar.
  • Drizzle over the top of the cake.
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Grace Said No

“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
Pixabay

 

Grace Said No

The crown of thorns

Forced on His head,

Bruises, slashes,

Wounds that bled.

Voices heard

Above the crowd,

Jeers and Jokes

Mocking loud.

Rhythm made by

Each hammer blow.

Perfect heart

Beating slow.

Darkness swallowed

Up the sky

As they waited

For Him to die.

“It is finished”

Said for me

While the devil 

Danced with glee.

“I’ve won!” He bragged

“I told you so….”

But on Easter morn

Grace.

 Said.

No.

But...on Easter morn Grace. Said. No. Click To Tweet

I’m joining up again with #livefreeThursday at http://www.tsuzanneeller.com The prompts was “no”.  Sometimes a poem just comes out of me even when it is not what I plan to write. Want to see what other women are writing on “no”? Click on over to Suzie’s site.

M’m! M’m! Monday 3/21/16

"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

Easter is coming!  Oh, how I love this time of year!  Daffodils, baby animals, longer days, Peeps (the marshmallow kind), and a new dress!  Growing up, for my sisters and I,  Easter always meant a new dress, hat, gloves, purse, and shoes and still today I like to wear a new dress on Easter Sunday.  Isn’t that what Spring and Easter remind us of? Not new clothes but becoming a new person.  Jesus was nailed to the cross, died, and rose again for you and me so that we can shed our old sinful selves and become new in Him. No more winter chill but the warmth of the Son shining for us!  Alleluia!

Because it IS the week of Easter I thought I would share a unique side dish recipe that will compliment any Easter dinner.  It takes a new twist on a traditional dish:

Green Bean Casserole Towers

Ingredients

  • 2-3 bags of Frozen Onion Rings (not the chopped variety)
  • 1 can French Style Green Beans, drained
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1/2 cup French Fried Onions

Instructions

  • Preheat oven as directed on the onion ring package.
  • In a small bowl combine the green beans and soup. Mix well.
  • Add french fried onions to the mixture - combine well.
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and stack 3 rings-large, med, smaller on top of each other.
  • Fill the towers with the green bean mixture.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes.
  • Serve with a spatula.
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This recipe intrigued me and it didn’t disappoint. It takes the 2-3 bags of onion rings to have enough size variation to make the towers.  I was able to create 12 with two bags. The third would provide options tho.  You can also add a little milk to the green bean mixture if it seems too thick.

I’m always on the look out for interesting recipes so feel free to share some of yours in the comments section.  Happy Easter, Happy Cooking, and Happy Eating, Cindy

 

 

 

The Call: A Living Hope Story

 

 

<a href="https://pixabay.com/users/OpenClipartVectors/">OpenClipartVectors</a> / Pixabay

“A dirt floor, no desks, two boxes of chalk, and four books”

This is the second in a series of miraculous true stories about Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya.  Stories that share the divine inspiration and dedication to helping students of poverty, who once had no hope, reach their full potential.

“And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.” Matthew 4:19-20

“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow Me” John 10:27

Still in awe of hearing God’s voice fill her tiny kitchen, the words echoed over and over as if they were a recording stuck on repeat;  “They went to bed hungry”, “Go”, and “I will provide”. Marilyn still wasn’t sure what they meant. At the close of the school year, thinking Uganda was where God would “provide” and wanted her to “go”, Marilyn pursued a return trip.  Much to her surprise, God had other plans!  At that very time Uganda was in the midst of intense violence. Rotary International wasn’t about to put Marilyn into the middle of it. They did however, offer to send her to a more peaceful area; Bungoma, Kenya. Without hesitation, off she went once again, seeds in tow, to plant gardens and tend souls.

Once in Kenya, Marilyn and other volunteers worked together to create community gardens where once there were only hard plots of ground.  As the small sprouts grew from the now fertile soil a longing grew in Marilyn.  Her teacher’s heart was restless. As Rehema Orphanage was nearby, she went in search of fertile minds.  It didn’t take Marilyn long to know that things weren’t right at the orphanage.  The small shelters housing the children leaked, they lacked basic supplies, and she was angered to find that the wood she’d just purchased was gone but hadn’t been used to provide heat for the children. The conditions weighed on Marilyn until she realized that just as God had told her months before…these children WERE “going to bed hungry”. She knew this was where God was calling her.

As the summer wore on Marilyn learned that there were twenty-five eighth graders who had lived at Rehema their entire lives and were about to be put out on the streets, alone, with no skills to help them survive. She agonized, lying awake at night trying to come up with a plan. She couldn’t stand by and watch as these children were discarded; and everything she knew about the life of Jesus convinced her that she had to do something.

Finding an old shed on the orphanage property, Marilyn approached the Director with an idea.  She’d prayed he would agree and reluctantly he allowed the students to stay.  She quickly began cleaning out the dark, dirty lean-to. It would no longer house unwanted items but instead become a high school classroom for students who were now unwanted themselves. Marilyn had no doubt she had the skills to teach these students, after all it was what she’d been doing year after year. So with a mud floor, no desks, two boxes of chalk, and four books; school was called into session. But, too soon the time came to return home and Marilyn reluctantly hired another teacher to fill her place.

Flying home felt wrong; like swimming against the current.  Questions swirled in Marilyn’s head. She knew without a doubt that Rehema was where she was meant to be but she had responsibilities: a job, a house, a truck, and a beloved dog.  She couldn’t leave those things behind. Or could she? The turmoil quieted and a peace enveloped Marilyn.  She knew that the kind of call she’d received from God was a call that demands a response.  Mary and Joseph recognized it. The disciples recognized it.  Marilyn recognized it too.  She would answer the call and follow Him. Where He would lead her?  She had no idea.

Copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya

Step into Adventure

I watched him as he teetered.  I couldn’t tell what he was thinking but the expression on his face proclaimed he had more confidence than he should. His loosened his grip. I held my breath.  Setting his sight on where he wanted to be, he let go…momentarily suspended in air…only to wobble and fall.

I’m in awe of how fast my grandson is changing! He’s no longer as dependent on us as he was.  He can crawl and get to whatever he wants now (whether he should or not)! He’s right on the verge of walking.

I’ve told my daughter and son-in-law that once he takes off they’d better be ready for an adventure! It certainly won’t be the only adventure they’ll embark on, though.  His first day of school. Getting his driver’s license. Leaving him in his college dorm room.  Seeing him hold a baby of his own. (sigh)  And everything in between!  Yes, life is a constant adventure!

And isn’t that true of our Christian life too? I hate to admit it, but in my adventure with God, confidence is what I proclaim to the world when in reality there are times I teeter into doubt.   I don’t know about you, but I often feel wobbly when stepping out in faith and I see where I want to be spiritually but frequently fall short.  Being a slow learner, it’s taking me a while to realize that when my eyes are on me (ugh! There are 6 “I’s” in the above paragraph…count them!) it’s easy to trip over my own performance and down I go! That’s when I’m reminded to look up!

The adventure of walking begins with baby steps and a firm grip on fingers of love. It takes time and encouragement.   The adventure of walking with God? The same exact thing…..

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24 (NIV)

Trudging through difficulties at work or home?  Treading into the unknown of an unexpected illness? Dreams and plans hit a bump in the road? Barely able to put one foot in front of the other? Or maybe you’re planning a wedding. Considering a new job. Looking forward to retirement. Tip-toeing where you’ve never been before. Shaky steps for sure!  Listen to this….

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV)

What a promise!  God takes us from baby steps to walking… running… and even soaring!  And have you noticed what I have? We don’t have to “tote” our performance. Our delight and hope in the Lord are enough.  So, are you ready to step into the adventure?  Yes, we may stumble, but when we grasp tightly to the hands of grace that loved us enough to go to the cross We. Will. Not. Fall.

Linking up with “livefreeThursday again this week.  To read about more of life’s adventures click to go to http://www.tsuzanneeleer.com

M’m! M’m! Monday! 3/14/16

"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook--try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, BE FEARLESS, and above all have fun. ~Julia Child

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook–try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, BE FEARLESS, and above all have fun.
~Julia Child

It drives me crazy when I get an idea and then just let it go by the wayside.  I do it with unimportant things but I also do it when I’m pretty sure it’s a job God has placed on my to do list. Thankfully, this is one of those “not so important things”… My Recipe Challenge.  I had such good intentions of posting all the new recipes I was trying but somehow it got put on the back burner so to speak.  Soooooo…..here’s my new idea!  Welcome to M’m! M’m! Monday.  I am going to try and post a new recipe every Monday.  Let’s face it, Monday’s are just hard.  Planning what to eat on Monday is even harder.  I’m hoping some of the recipes I post will help take a little of the pain out of menu planning and inspire you to join me in trying something new.  I promise these recipes will not be difficult and will take pretty normal ingredients.  (that’s what I look for in a new recipe) I love your feedback so let me know if you try something you find here.

Let’s Get Cooking!

Boneless Country-Style Ribs Crockpot Style

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. boneless pork country style ribs
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • Garlic to taste
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 c. apple juice
  • 2 c. Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce

Instructions

  • Thinly slice your onion and lay the slices on the bottom of your crock pot.
  • Add boneless ribs to the crock pot. ( I put mine in frozen)
  • Sprinkle garlic, brown sugar, salt, and pepper over ribs.
  • Pour apple juice over top.
  • Cook on low for 7-8 hours
  • Flip ribs.
  • Pour BBQ sauce on ribs and cook for another hour or so. They can go longer if you need them to.
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These ribs are so tender they just about melt in your mouth.  I like to serve them with baked potatoes, corn, and a bowl of peaches.  There!  Your menu is ready.  Enjoy!

 

Deep in the Muck

A "cleaner" wheeler ride! Can you believe I got back on with him?

A “cleaner” wheeler ride! Can you believe I got back on with him?

Have you ever had an up close and personal relationship with manure?  You know…sticky, smelly, squishy…comes from the wrong end of everything? You read it right, manure! Well, my encounter with manure is one I’ll never forget!

As a new teacher from the city, in a small, rural town, twelve hours away from all my family and friends, I was welcomed into the home of a fellow teacher for supper each weekend.  (She later became my mother-in-law but that’s a story for another time). Anyway, I loved going there because it was on a farm and there were so many new things to see and do. Of course I never considered a rendezvous with manure being one of them.

After supper one cold, blustery night, Joe, the youngest in the family had to go check on the cows.  As he donned his coveralls he looked back over his shoulder and jokingly asked if I’d like to join him.  Much to his surprise (and mine too) I said yes.  So began my transformation.  Coveralls, gloves, a disreputable hat, and knee-high black rubber boots.  I was quite thrilled with my get-up and felt ready for the cover of The Farmer’s Almanac!  Out the door we went.  With an uncoordinated swing of my leg I plopped on the back of the three wheeler behind Joe and we took off around the fields checking for any new calves. The icy air slapped my cheeks  and the bars I was sitting on slapped my other….well, you get the idea. Approaching the barn, I thought our job was coming to an end but we paused right outside a large opening.  What I saw in front of me sent a shiver down my spine. There in our path was a huge pile of snow.  Joe looked back at me and seeing the terror in my eyes he smiled, revved the engine, and took off determined to give me the ride of my life!  I had a sinking feeling.

sinking became more than a feeling! As it turned out, it was not the snow pile we’d anticipated.  Instead it was an enormous mountain of manure disguised by a layer of clean, white snow. Momentum propelled us upward but just as the wheeler reached the top, the engine died and we sank. Despite several valiant attempts, Joe was unable to get us free so he told me I’d have to drive and he’d get off and push us out.  This is where city girl made her mistake .  Having never driven a three-wheeler or anything close to it, I was scared and so I firmly refused. With more confidence than I actually felt, I told Joe that I’d get off and push!

To his credit, Joe did ask me if I was sure before he agreed.  Attempting to appear undaunted I stepped right down into the waiting muck. My feet began to disappear deep into the mire until manure was dripping down inside my knee-high boots; gunk soaking through my socks.  Gripping the back bar of the wheeler I listened as Joe counted……Are you picturing  where this is going?

One, two three!…….He gunned the motor. With a gallant effort, I pushed. The tires spun. And yes, in a split second I had cow manure everywhere manure could possibly go.  In my hair, dripping from my eyelashes, my nose, in my ears, covering my clothes. I was manure from. top. to. bottom.  As I stood stuck, with globs of poo plopping from the brim of my hat and sliding down my face, I learned that being deep in the muck is NOT where I wanted to be!

Since then I’ve come to realize that life can sometimes feel like being stuck deep in the muck. Stress at work, bills to pay, health issues, troubled marriage, worrying about children, plans that don’t work out….the list is long. None of us want to be lodged in the depths of these situations but when we find ourselves unexpectedly sinking, what a comfort it is to know we are not alone.

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him.” Psalm 40:2-3 (NIV)

I certainly don’t have all the answers and I flounder when I find myself not where I want to be. I  may not always see a solution right away or recognize God leading me to solid ground as I struggle in the slime, maybe you can relate,  but this I do know… His word assures us we can look to Him for help and He’ll not leave us on our own.

The end of my “farm-hand initiation” that winter night? It came when Joe suddenly (not quite quickly enough for me, mind you) remembered a switch on the three-wheeler that when flipped, enabled the tires to lift up out of the murky hole they’d been trapped in. I’ll never forget his sheepish grin as he reached out his hand and helped me, manure smell, and all, back onto the wheeler.

This was the first of many adventures I had on the farm but the lesson I learned in the manure  is my favorite.  When I find myself unable to move forward or release what is behind me. When I’m sinking and stuck deep in the muck I’m reminded that just as the tires were lifted up so many years ago, we have a God that we can trust to lift US up. That smells like victory to me!