Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Birthday!

There was another special baby born whose birthday we celebrate this time of year. It was a baby girl, born on December 22nd. The year was 1992 and she came as a very special gift to us on the day after Christmas that year. She continues to be a special gift to her dad and mom and whole family. So today is the fifteenth anniversary of her birth and we want to say to her:

Happy Birthday, Neesie!

To the rest of you I say "Merry Christmas" from my house to yours. I wrote a brief meditation about the most wonderful baby of all over at my devotional blog if anyone would want to go read it. God bless you all with a wonderful holiday.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Break!

Now I know I need to take a break for a bit. Maybe a week, maybe more--we'll see. I do most of my blogging and comments on my laptop, which is having wireless connection problems. I can't get it figured out, so I hear the Lord telling me to get away from it for awhile. Besides, I have a bunch of writing and editing that's being neglected and that should be my priority anyway. So I need to get myself together here, which means I won't be around. Blessings to all of you until next week. Lord willing, I hope to be back before Christmas!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Behold, a Branch is Growing

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. Isaiah 11:1

Jesus thought of as a flower in winter? That's what this hymn is calling Him, and that is such a perfect metaphor. And to think He came at midnight. In other words, He came at the darkest hour; He came when when sin had thoroughly enveloped the human race. This is another one of those Christmas songs which we don't hear much. I doubt if you've heard it played in the stores. But, oh, what beautiful sentiments we find in this one. "This flow'r whose fragrance tender, with sweetness fills the air." That's our Savior. This lovely, lovely hymn came to us from Germany; the translation of the first four stanzas were by Harriet R. Spaeth and the last by John C. Mattes. Friends, don't we have a wonderful Lord and Savior? A flower in winter. Sounds like a good title for a book.

Behold, a Branch is growing
Of loveliest form and grace,
As prophets sung, foreknowing;
It springs from Jesse's race
And bears one little Flow'r
In midst of coldest winter,
At deepest midnight hour.

Isaiah hath foretold it
In words of promise sure,
And Mary's arms enfold it,
A virgin meek and pure.
Through God's eternal will
This Child to her is given
At midnight calm and still.

The shepherds heard the story,
Proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of Glory,
Was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped
And in the manger found him,
As angel heralds said.

This Flower whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere.
True man, yet very God;
From sin and death he saves us
And lightens every load.

O Saviour, Child of Mary,
Who felt our human woe;
O Saviour, King of Glory,
Who dost our weakness know,
Bring us at length, we pray,
To the bright courts of heaven
And to the endless day.

Listen here

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Sneaky Nutrition - Turkey Soup

Well, it's snowing outside again. According to the Farmer's Almanac and some "expert" who made a recent prediction, we're going to have a mild winter again this year in our area. But according to the squirrels in my backyard, we're going to have it rough. You see, they're quite fat. For the last two seasons they didn't get very fat and it was a mild winter. Since they're fat again as in years past, I think they're forecasting a lot of bad weather coming up. Let's see who's right--them or the experts. God willing, I'll come back in April or so and let you know.

Soooooo, it's a good time to give you a nice recipe for a meal to serve on a chilly, nasty-weather day, sneaking a bit of nutriments in as you warm the bellies. And you need just one big pot! If you have any turkey bones left from Thanksgiving like I do, it's time to make some soup for your family, especially if there are any stuffy noses or people coughing in your house. The most important thing to remember is that you should cook the broth well ahead of time and chill it in a cold place so that you can skim off the fat before making the actual soup.

My turkey soup recipe is very simple. Some people may want to add their favorite herbs. For some reason, I like it better without a lot of herbs. Also, some people prefer it with cut up potatoes. I prefer it with noodles. The key is to cook the bones for a long time, and you'll have a lots of flavor! Here is what I do:

Put in large pot:

turkey carcass and leg, wing and other bones that no one ate off of (I leave a lot of meat on my bones !)
3-4 celery stalks, cut in large pieces
1-2 onions, cut up
1-2 carrots, whole
8-10 cups water, depending on how many bones
1 Tablespoon salt
5-6 peppercorns

2-3 bay leaves

Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer slowly for three to four hours. Make sure the lid is on tight. After cooking, let it cool for a while and then take a slotted spoon or strainer and take all of the bones from the broth, with the celery, carrots, peppercorns and bay leaves. This can take a while because the bones can be in small bits . Leave the meat!!!

After cooling the broth (usually overnight) and skimming off the fat, bring to a boil again and add:

a couple of cut up boiled eggs
1 celery stalk, diced or sliced
any frozen mixed vegetables of your choice
about half head of a small cabbage, shredded (or zucchini)

Ten minutes or so before serving, add:

whole grain noodles

Sorry measurements on the vegetables and noodles are vague, since it depends on how thick you want the soup to be. I make it quite thick but it's more like a thick soup than a stew. My younger daughter eats it with a fork (remember that ad?), but for some reason that irritates me. But I certainly don't make an issue of that! I'll also mention that someday if I want to be a very nice wife to my husband, I'll put okra in it--you know how nutritious okra is, don't you? But I haven't gotten to the point that I've been able to do that (I hate okra and he loves it!), so I guess that says something about what kind of wife I am. ;-)

Well, I hope you make some of this soup soon, adding and subtracting as you see fit. Soup is one of those flexible dishes that we do with as we like. Enjoy the winter weather, guys. Oh! and don't forget the homemade cornbread or wheat bread that goes so well with your soup.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Once in Royal David's City

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9

I cannot tell you how much I love this wonderful Christmal carol. I think this choir sings it beautifully, don't you? All you need to do is listen to the words to capture your heart for our wonderful Savior. What a blessing this is. The third stanza sung here is different than in our hymnal and we have a fifth stanza, which makes me want to shout "Hallelujah!" This hymnwriter, btw, is one of my favorites, for she loved to teach children about God through her hymns. I hope you'll teach this to your children. These are the words which appear in our hymnal:

Once in royal David's city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her baby
In a manger for his bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child.

He came down to earth from heaven
Who is God and Lord of all,
And his shelter was a stable,
And his cradle was a stall:
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour holy.

And, through all his wondrous childhood
He would honor and obey,
Love and watch the lowly maiden
In whose gentle arms he lay:
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as he.

And our eyes at last shall see him,
Through his own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heav'n above,
And he leads his children on
To the place where he is gone.

Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see him, but in heaven,
Set at God's right hand on high;
When like stars his children crowned
All in white shall wait around.

~Cecil Frances Alexander