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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Apple Crisp

Making an Apple Crisp right now is totally wishful thinking....
Fall has to come eventually, right? 

This is one of those great growing up memory Mom kind of recipes.  Before I got married my mom and I collected a bunch of her recipes that I could make for my new family of two.  Having cooked with her often growing up but rarely read a recipe, I made almost everything to feed a family of five back then, with great confusion as to the large amount of leftovers.  The Apple Crisp was the exception to this rule, the recipe is for a square baking dish.  I honestly don't ever remember my mom making it in anything smaller than a 9x13 (she probably doubled it so that it would last longer than a few minutes).  So, when I made it the first time it was about 1/2 inch thick in a big 9x13 pan.........I called mom that day.

But I finally figured it out.  This is a classic.  I love it because the bottom layer is just apples.  The wonderful yummy apple pie type topping ingredients cook down into them as it bakes, but I like that fresh baked apple taste.  I'm pretty sure that my mom slices her apples, I just chop mine up.

The topping is easy and just right. I never (really, never ever) remember to soften my butter. This recipe is very forgiving, just pop cold butter into the microwave for 30 seconds or so, mix up all the topping ingredients.....

Pour over the apples and pack it down a little bit.
I don't know why I do that, it just seems right....

Then bake.....Voila!

This really needs some vanilla ice cream with it (dessert) or whipped cream out of a can (breakfast).....not that I would do that.

Mom's Apple Crisp
4 cups apples (about 6), peeled and sliced
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (I use a little less, more like 1/4 teaspoon)
1/2 cup soft butter
Layer apples in the bottom of an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan.  Mix all other ingredients to make a crumbly topping and pour evenly over apples.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30-34 minutes.  This doubles nicely in a large baking with vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lord' Supper

Tonight we celebrated the Lord's Supper at church. Some of our great friends sat right behind me as two of their children got to participate for the first time.  It reminded me of the first time my son (now fourteen) and I shared the Lord's Supper.  I'm glad now that I wrote about that experience.  Thought I might share. This is from September of 2005.

Zach's hands now, no longer chubby but still busy!

The Lord’s Supper   
September 2005

Early this spring our family celebrated with my son as he gave his life to Jesus and was baptized.  We had a big party where he received no less than three monogrammed Bibles.  It was a precious time we will always remember.  Last Sunday we celebrated my son’s first long awaited Lord’s Supper.  I came to church with my son in hand ready for an uplifting and spiritually bonding experience.  As the service began, Zachary squirmed more than usual with his characteristic nervous energy.  Since his discovery of video games the rest of his body has to be moving if his hands are required to be still.  He tried to chatter through the songs and prayers, only to be shushed.  As the little trays of bread came around, he became positively exuberant wanting to hold the tray himself and asking questions about the timing and the taste.  I whispered a suggestion that this is the time we think about Jesus.  He looked back at me with a familiar suspicious glance he gives me when he suspects I’m using Jesus to get my way.  As the time finally approached to eat the bread, he popped his in his mouth, chewed furiously, then commented to me that it was tasty, leaving me torn between a frustrated reprimand and a giggle.  This child is so funny, it’s hard to stay serious.  As the service stretches along we have more wiggling and questions right before a tug-of-war over the tray holding the juice cups.  Again, Zachary was adamant about holding the tray himself.  I was equally adamant about not having a grape juice catastrophe in our pew.  He was so curious about the taste of this particular grape juice that he couldn’t stop his tongue from one little lick during the prayer.  Again I fought the giggle.  By the time I got his critique of the yummy taste of the juice I realized with distracted wonder that this yummy grape juice is most likely the same kind of juice he refused to drink for breakfast the day before.  I was very disappointed.  Not because of Zachary’s cute little eager comments or even his wiggles, but because he seemed to miss the meaning behind it all. 

I have a secret place in my heart where worries over my children live.  These worries bounce from bullies to leukemia to drugs to crooked teeth to estrangement to picky eating to rejection of God.  Although most moms have these fears, only God really sees them.  In our pride, we tend to hide them from each other.  Only God knows the scenarios I’ve imagined in my quest for perfect mothering.  Only God knows the relief I felt when Zachary gave his life to Jesus.  And only God knows the fear that returned when my son seemed to trivialize something as important as the Lord’s Supper.  I murmured a complaint to the Prince of Peace and He sent me two memories.  I remembered sitting next to my mother during the Lord’s Supper and studying her hands while she held the Lord’s Supper cracker.  I remember being excited that I too held a wafer in my own hand.  Always before my mother would pinch off the corner of her cracker and let me taste it.  I suspect her sharing was only because in the church where I grew up the Lord’s Supper crackers really were tasty, and homemade!  Zachary would have been truly inspired by these yummy wafers that tasted just like pie crust. This time I had my own, not pinch of mom’s!  In my memory I could see the green color in the sanctuary as the day turned toward evening and the big glass chandeliers gracefully took over the job of lighting the sanctuary from the fading sunshine coming through blue and green stained glass windows.  I, like Zachary, was obsessed with the taste of the bread and the smell of the juice and wished out loud for little cups like that for my own room.  But what I remember most is that through distracted thoughts of juice and pie crusts I felt included and I knew that what the grown ups around me were celebrating was important.  I knew that this community of believers  were loved by God and were loving Him back, and that I was one of them.  As a teenager I remember sitting with the same church celebrating the same Lord’s Supper with the same pie crust wafers.  This time we were in a newer sanctuary where the light had changed from green to blue.  Even then the feeling of belonging was the same.  I remember considering the sacrifice Jesus had made because of His great love for me and experiencing profound thankfulness.  In those ten years from age seven to seventeen I grew into an appreciation and love for the Lord’s Supper because I was growing into a love for the Lord. 

And so I’m thankful that God whispered these memories into the worry part of my heart.  He reminded me that Zachary’s first Lord Supper was special because the Lord was there, and He is faithful to grow my son up to know and love Him. My part is not so significant.  I was reminded to keep letting my Lord whisper peace over the worry part of my heart, to keep loving and appreciating what the Lord’s Supper represents, to live His way right in front of my children.  I hope that Zachary has wonderful memories of church.  But more than anything I pray that he will have a lifetime of memories of God’s faithfulness.  I pray he has memories that all come rushing back when his own little child sticks his tongue in the grape juice.  And God, if it’s possible, could I be there to see it?  Now that would be worth a giggle. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

An Excerpt....

I want to share a little taste of Chains Falling.  This Bible Study is a focused look into the book of Hosea.  It's all about our rebellion and God's relentless pursuit of us; even there.  You can read more about how the study came about here

Some things to know about Chains Falling:
  • There are 30 daily lessons spread over 6 weeks.
  • The workbook has wide margins and space for you to fill-in your responses.
  • Each day ends with a journal prompt so that you can personalize what you are learning and more easily make the transition to every-day application.
  • The study has a Group Discussion Guide at the end so that you can use it with a small group of women.  In fact, that would be ideal! 
  • I added some favorite recipes for snacks and breakfasts at the end.  Most of them are from my own Bible Study Buddies. 

This excerpt comes right out of the middle of the book;
Week Three Day Four.
Take a look.....

Day 4: The Call and Whistle of Redemption

Read Hosea 7:13, 13:14. The word redeem in both of these verses is the Hebrew word “padah.” It means “to sever, to redeem by paying a price, to ransom, to set free, to let go, to dismiss, to rescue, to deliver from danger. The essential meaning is achieving the transfer of ownership from one to another through payment or by something of equivalent value.”[1] We will be spending today and tomorrow defining redemption. What is your initial reaction to this definition? Rewrite the meaning of redeem in your own words.

Now read Isaiah 50:1-5. Find the word redeem. What does it say?

Read Isaiah 50:1-2 again, how would you describe God’s tone and attitude?

I believe this passage teaches that God allows periods of self-inflicted separation from Him. In other words, He will let you walk away from Him for a season if you choose to, but those seasons do not change your identity as His child. How did you answer the question about God’s tone in verses one and two? I think it’s almost sarcastic. God is saying,“Can you prove to me that you no longer belong to me? Show me the papers proving I gave you up! Was I forced to sell you into slavery because I owed someone? NO, you sold yourself! And when I came to save you….you weren’t waiting. When I called out to rescue you, you weren’t listening. Where were you? Do you think I can’t do it? Don’t you remember the stories of how I delivered your ancestors from Eqypt? I dried up the sea with a word! Don’t you know I can save you? Don’t you know I want to?”

What must it be like for Him to pursue His people and call to them to buy them back from their sins, only to find their faith absent?

 How does this fit with your life and your personal relationship with Him?

Now read Zechariah 10:8 and glean a precious response. This is how it should be when God calls. The ESV says God whistles for us, yours might say signal. My sister-in-law has one of those great whistles I envy. I’ve practiced by myself and it just turns into a slobber fest. Her kids can hear it from anywhere and they come running because they know it is mom calling. There is safety and instruction in that whistle, along with an expectation of obedience. Have you ever imagined God whistling for you? This should be on the Sunday School checklist of things all Christians should know! I love this image. When you find yourself reeling from a fall, self-inflicted or otherwise, take heart knowing that as you wait, God is blessing. Be careful to watch for His redemption and listen for the whistle. Before we finish with this idea read a few verses down, Zechariah 10:12 and write out the promise of redemption.

Be strong in the Lord and walk in His name.

[1] (Zodhiates), 2353.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Introducing....Chains Falling

What on earth?  That's just about the only thought in my brain right now when it comes to the blessing it's been to learn what I wrote into this book. If you are hearing this for the first time, I just self-published my first Bible Study.  What on earth?

Here's what happened.  A few years ago I heard someone use a verse in Hosea to teach something else and quickly flipped to it (ok, not really quickly - it's hard to find Hosea quickly...we'll go with eventually).  Eventually I flipped to this verse and read the context finding myself both curious and terrified.  There is some wondrous and scary stuff in this book of the Bible.  I decided I had to know what it meant and one thing led to another and before long I was spending hours digging in.  I wrote my lessons into these little teachable bullet points that I shared with this fantastic group of women who study with me on Wednesday mornings.  They encouraged me, we just really learned so much together.  And that was enough for me, it still is. 

My Amanda - friend and partner in ministry asked me to write it into a version that we could teach moms and daughters over the summer and we loved doing that together.  And that was still enough for me.

Then this year with the encouragement of my friends and husband I rewrote this study into a six week Bible Study.  Without these people I probably never would have taken this leap.

Me and Candace on one of the days they were "encouraging" me. 
She makes me ugly laugh, it's totally her fault I look like that.

When I teach I am very aware of those I am teaching.  I interact with them and draw from their attentiveness and understanding, their joy and pain. With writing I felt a little lost without that interaction.  This is new for me......and makes me feel very vulnerable.  Ultimately it came down to a willingness to follow God and share these lessons beyond the security I know.  I feel inadequate in my own ability to persuade with words, but I am so confident in the message of this book that it's worth the risk of being unliked or even misunderstood to tell the truth He is in Hosea. What Hosea teaches about God's love for us, His unwillingness to flatter us, His longing to see us whole and healed, His grief when we are unwilling to love Him back and is just beyond words. 

And there is my problem, because books are words and they just don't do Him justice.
So here it is, and I am so humbled.

Thanks Julie and Sarah for the amazing cover! 
Julie did the photography and Sarah was the model. 
We shot the cover for this in a field by a local kidding. 
Julie's amazing that way.

You can buy the book through Crossbooks (the company we hired to publish Chains Falling) or if you are nearby you can buy it directly from us (which helps us cover the cost of the book most completely and saves you a few dollars on shipping). Part of the self-publishing process is that we get to buy and sell the books to cover the publishing cost....almost scarier than actually writing the book.

We will have the big debut of the book at a large women's event at our church on September 13th.  So if you are close.....come and buy a book!

So much thanks to you ALL!