Monday, June 10, 2019

SPRING READING...

My spring reads have been pretty sparse...but here they are!  Mostly this spring I enjoyed studying I and II Corinthians with a group, and have done a lot of online research for travel.




Inheritance, by Dani Shapiro

A memoir about Dani finding out her true identity after her parents had died.  Although a fair-haired person, she grew up in a strong Jewish family.  Growing up there were always jokes about whether she belonged. She did indeed find out after doing a test on a whim that she had no real Jewish genes, and set out to find answers.  This story chronicles her journey as she found those answers and her feelings of betrayal and love.  An interesting read and it shows how complicated medical ethics can be as it affects the individual.



Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

Another one from Rachel Hollis which is much like her previous one.  She addresses all the excuses you might have for not chasing after your dreams.  He advice is to just focus on the one thing you want to achieve, and don't apologize for it.  Make it happen.  Great read if you need some motivation to move on in life!



Moon travel guide - Mount Rushmore & The Black Hills, by Laural A. Bidwell

I heard the Moon guides were the best travel guides, so I checked one out.  I like the size of them - they fit in the hand easily.  They have beautiful pictures but not too many, just enough to whet your appetite!  Each city in the region is described well with a few choice accommodations, restaurants, and activities listed.  I think generally what I like is that the guide is not overwhelming with choices.  They recommend the best of what is available according to several budgets.  Also, it features a good map of each place, including restaurant, shops and accommodations.



DK Eyewitness Travel - Dublin

After reading and doing a lot of online research about what might be interesting to see on our road trip to the Dakotas, all of a sudden our plans changed with a business trip over in Europe for The Hubs!  So all the books changed and this one about Dublin, Ireland is a good one.  DK books have a lot of pictures, which is good for someone who knows very little about the place!  Seriously, it's got a little history, some maps, and plenty of information about attractions.  





Saturday, June 1, 2019

BEING STILL WHEN ACTION IS ALL YOU KNOW...



"Let us not become weary of doing good, for at the proper time we  will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Gal. 6:9

For so long I've used this verse to remind myself that many give up, many grow weary of doing good, and I do not want to be in that group.  To me that means serving physically - taking food to someone or doing some kind of chore for someone who cannot do it for health reasons, a death in the family, or whatever. 

But my aching joints are telling me otherwise nowadays.


Being a stay-at-home mother for the last 20 + years and considering my job keeper of the home, I feel that cooking or cleaning for someone is what I do best and that's my best way to do good.  I taught children for many years and that felt good.  Serving in Women's Ministry through planning and executing events are also my way of doing good.


So my aching joints telling me to take a break is playing with my mind.



You might notice this scripture does not define what doing good is....do you suppose that's intentional?  Of course it is!  What does God's word say about doing good?  What good things did God do?  What kind of good did Jesus do?  Those are our models for GOOD.  Off the top of my head I can think of many examples of good, and I'm sure I could find more with deeper study.  I think about the creation story in Genesis.  Each day God looked at it, and said, "It is good." However God made this Earth, a work of his mind, a work of his hands; he reflected about along the way.  Micah 6:8 tells us what good is:  "He has showed you, O Man, what is good.  But what does the Lord require of you?  To seek justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."  Being still this morning and praying; connecting with the Father - that is good.  Praying for others - that is good.  Seeking justice for someone is action based to me.  But praying for justice is an action, too.  Loving mercy and walking humbly - those are a reflection of the Holy Spirit working in your life .



Psalm 37:3  says "Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness." I've heard from time to time that it is hard for older Christians to feel useful.  Aging robs of us doing so much action.  I've never thought of it this way, but maybe it's God giving us one more chance to draw near to him.  

So my conclusion here is that my idea of doing good has been action based in my life for many, many years. How about you?  Action in the name of the Lord is good.  But it will change, and change is hard.  The Holy Spirit is helping me see that doing good can mean reflecting, loving, being humble, and cultivating faithfulness through making connections, prayer, and Bible study.  

So take that, you aching joints!  




Saturday, May 25, 2019

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE PUDDING...

For all the dark chocolate lovers out there!

Bittersweet Chocolate pudding (adapted from Epicurious)
·       1/3 cup sugar
·       1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
·       2 tablespoons cornstarch
·       1/8 teaspoon salt
·       1 3/4 cups whole milk, divided
·       1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
·       4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), finely chopped
·       1 tablespoon dark rum
·       1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.     Whisk sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt to blend in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually add 1/3 cup milk, whisking until smooth paste forms. Whisk in remaining milk, then 1/4 cup cream. Using flat-bottom wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, stir mixture constantly over medium heat, scraping bottom and sides of pan until pudding thickens and begins to bubble at edges, about 5 minutes. Add chocolate; stir until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat; stir in rum and vanilla.
NOTES:
I did not use any whipping cream  or rum in this recipe, and it turned out fine.  For the 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, I actually used a couple of plain Hershey bars that we had on hand.  I also added a spoonful of espresso powder to give it a darker flavor.  Can be poured into a baked crust.  Refrigerate.  . 

Made 4 pudding cup servings or perhaps one small pie.


Monday, May 13, 2019

GREEN PASTURES...



Psalm 23, probably one of the most well-known scriptures, has been on my mind lately.  I've been in a Wednesday night ladies class with a video by Jennifer Rothschild on the subject.  It may seem tedious to some, but looking at such a wonderful passage verse by verse can really help you focus on the real meaning of it.  It helps you get into the mind of the author.  It help you realize how it affects your life.

We were focusing on the meaning behind what shepherds do with their flock - their care and leading of them to green pastures.  They lead them to what's best for them.  And we got down to the real application for us...

WHAT ARE MY GREEN PASTURES?


Then Jennifer asked, "Are your green pastures your home?  Your family?  Your cars?  Travel?"  Are you leading yourself to those things?  Or are you letting the Shepherd lead you?  Are you letting Him take you to what is best for you?

WELL, THAT WAS A GUT PUNCH!

For a while now my life has been focused on ME, and my own green pastures of the excuse of a woman who has raised three kids with all her energy and now is ready for rest.  To sit in my own green pasture of relaxation and recreation.  Yes, I do have projects going outside of myself, but I'm not sure I'm letting the Shepherd lead.

I had to give myself an attitude adjustment earlier this year when we had to cancel our January plans to go to the beach for a couple of weeks (the Hubs would still work out of the condo).  His need to travel to other offices for work and also to help with a project at church just made that impossible.  So  I reluctantly cancelled our reservation.  I was not too happy but tried to focus on the blessings I do have (which are many).

Then we started thinking about a summer vacation.  The Hubs wanted to go to North Dakota, of all places!  It would be his 50th state to visit!  Really, what fun is there in North Dakota? Needless to say, I was a little disappointed but tried to get over it. After some research, I actually found some interesting things we could do on this lengthy road trip, so I was getting excited about it.

Then a funny, amazing, exciting thing happened! Three days ago I heard him talking on a conference call about some meeting in London.  I started wondering...then he said at dinner that it looked like he would have to go to London 2 days after we got home from North Dakota!  Well, long story short, we cancelled all those North Dakota road trip reservations and are now making reservations in Ireland and London!  So, my grateful heart is excited to travel with my husband to a new place, but I also have realized I must be careful and not let pleasure become my green pastures.


OUR TRUE GREEN PASTURES,
OUR TRUE SOURCE OF NOURISHMENT,
PEACE, AND CONTENTMENT
 CAN ONLY COME FROM THE SHEPHERD.


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

LIFELONG LEARNING AND TEACHING...


We recently had a Wednesday night class series at church called "Then Sings My Soul."  It was such a joy for me to get to teach a couple of the lessons!  This was a class for women, and we highlighted hymns by women authors for half the hour, then sang other songs ladies chose out of the songbook for the rest of the time.  It turned out to be quite interesting and lots of fun!  I really looked forward to every Wednesday night.  

Most of the women authors we highlighted were born in the 19th century.  Some of them were poor, some were privileged.  Some were disabled, some were physically strong.  Some were from Europe, some lived here in the US.  Some were married, some were not.  It was really interesting to learn more about these women and how their songs came to be.  It gave me more insight and feeling for the words they wrote and their relationship with Jesus.

For instance, Anna Barbauld wrote Again the Lord of Light and Life, and she was well known in England for many writings during her lifetime.  Her song is about the resurrection and would be a great one to be sung on Easter.  But her life was also very hard in that her husband had a mental breakdown and she carried on despite their difficulties.  Jennie Wilson wrote Will Your Anchor Hold and this bolstering song has gone beyond the hymnal and is the official song of the Boys Brigade (like the Boy Scouts) and of the Dollar Academy in Scotland.  One of my favorites that I researched is author of Hold To God's Unchanging Hand.  She was in a wheelchair from the age of four but wrote so many songs of joy and encouragement.

I'm thankful for the ability to read and research.  I'm thankful for classes and teachers.  Often times, the teacher learns more than anyone else in the class, so consider being a teacher when asked!  I think about the limitations of people a few centuries ago, like some of these women, and count my blessings.  I have modern conveniences that they did not have.  There are still difficulties but we all have one thing in common:  the salvation that comes from Jesus Christ and the joy we have when we sing about it!


Saturday, March 23, 2019

WINTER READS...





Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

I first heard about Rachel and started listening to her podcast, then following her on Instagram.  After reading her book, I can see why she has such a large following.  It's a book about  how to stop believing the lies about who you think you are so you can become who you were meant to be.  She's had a lot of different life experiences including overcoming a family tragedy, being on her own at 18, and building a successful company without a college degree.  She shared how her eyes were opened to diversity as a teenager on a trip, and how in her little hometown church there was only one "right" way to be.  This book helps you realize you need to GIVE YOURSELF GRACE.  She honestly made me feel a little more comfortable about some of my past experiences.  Her conversational approach to writing drew me in and I loved her practical tips at the end of each chapter. The chapters about body image and marriage were especially meaningful to me.  I'm not building a big business like she is, but her teachings are especially for women that are.


The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

A topic I've been interested in for several years, Cait shares her personal story of addiction to shopping, alcohol and food.  She changed her personal habits and discovered what really matters to her.  She doesn't really describe steps to change, but it's an interesting read.



The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

An interesting book of self-reflection, Gretchen determined 12 ways she could make her life happier and set out to work on each area of her life, one each month of the year.  Some she felt benefitted her, some she did not.  One of the things I thought was interesting was the month she wanted to work on her relationship with her husband.  She decided to quit nitpicking and leave 3 things unsaid each day. She felt like she was happier not arguing over the little things and that her relationship with him did improve.  I thought that was a unique idea, and so I've decided that's something I could try.  Some things are better left unsaid.  It makes you think about some simple things you might do or improve in your life that bring a lot more happiness to your days.  I really like to check in on her blog - she's always discussing interesting things or sharing a new book she read.



Creative Courage by Welby Altidor

Anything on creative leadership piques my curiosity, and this one was really heady.  Welby was a creative director for Cirque du Soleil and reflects on leadership with creative people and even has suggested exercises for those looking to build a creative team.


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

A SOLUTION FOR LABELING CM ALBUMS...

For years, I have not been satisfied with how to label my Creative Memories photo albums. The labels I made would curl and peel off.  Why do you need a label at all?  Well, when you have 20+ you want to be able to see them at a glance and know what year it is or if it's a family or vacation album.  I perused the internet for a while and got inspired!  Here's my solution:
New label I made

Old labels curling off


How to make your own:

I used a Dymo label maker, white tape refill, vellum, and a paper cutter.
Print out whatever you want your label to say.
You could also write your own on a white sticky address label.
Cut vellum into strips 1-2 inches wide and 8 inches long.
Mount the label in the very middle of the strip.
Put another vellum strip right on top of the other one.
You do need to do this to protect the label from curling off.  
Now slide the end of the strips down into the sides of the album.
All done!  Look how nice and neat it looks!


Problem solved!