Praying the Scriptures for Your Family

Monday, November 24, 2014

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Ever feel at a loss on how to pray for your family? Not sure what they really need most? Candace over at His Mercy is New has a great resource that has helped me pray for those I love. Praying the Scripture for Your Family uses God's Word as the basis for our prayers for those closest to us.  There are thirty-one days of Scriptures. Each day you are provided one Scripture, a prayer and then space to journal a more personalized prayer.  Also, included is a calendar with all the Scriptures listed. I participated in praying for my family in October, and I found it to be powerful and helpful to use God's Word as I prayed for them. It gave me enough guidance so that I wouldn't flounder at a loss of what to pray and yet enough freedom to make it personal to our lives. What could be better than to use God's own words to pray back to Him?!

So if you are looking for a guide in your prayer life I would highly recommend Praying the Scriptures! It is a downloadable e-book for only $2.99.  So worth it!

Great Biscotti Recipes

Friday, November 21, 2014

Last year I made biscotti for our Christmas goodies instead of doing a bunch of different cookies. I fell in love with the idea that I plan on doing it again this year. The beauty of biscotti is that you can do it ahead of time, freeze it, and then {if desired} dip it in chocolate before enjoying.  Here are a couple of recipes and tips that I have used...

Chocolate Biscotti
I have found the dough to be hard to deal with when it comes to chocolate and biscotti.  I liked this recipe from Mama's Gotta Bake the best.  I actually made chocolate peppermint biscotti with her recipe by omitting the nuts and adding a 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract.  I plan to dip these in white chocolate and sprinkle with crushed candy canes.

Almond Biscotti
I love anything with almond flavoring especially during the holidays. Here are two great recipes I have used in the past.
Almond Orange Biscotti
Almond Vanilla Biscotti

Other Flavors
Here are some other flavors that I am interested in trying this year. I just need to narrow it down to a more manageable list!
Key Lime

Tips for Making Biscotti

-Select recipes with at least a little bit of fat (normally butter) as they are easier to slice

-Refrigerate or put the dough in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes if it is too gooey to shape.

-I tried two different chocolate biscotti and found that both the doughs were hard to deal with when shaping.  The one recipe I have posted above was the better one.  Once you get the logs shaped the biscotti turns out beautifully.

-Be patient during the cooling of the "log" before slicing. Makes slicing easier. 

-Biscotti keeps well. Freeze it early in December and then you can take it out closer to gift giving time and dip in chocolate if you desire. 

Waffles in Bulk

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

There are times that you are so sick of being behind that you force yourself to get ahead. In October, I came down with a nasty virus for a couple of weeks that turned into seven weeks. Followed by the flu. It's been rough to say the least.  My family barely had food on the table as I was trying to piecemeal life all together. I decided (on one of my good sick days) to make a ton of waffles to put in the freezer so I wouldn't  have to face another morning of no food for my hungry teen sons.

This recipe {which I doubled} made over 60 waffles in my Cuisinart 6-Slice Waffle Iron! We were set for life! Don't I wish!

These freeze well. In the morning we just pop them into the toaster to heat them up.

Waffles for the Freezer

6 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 cups milk
1 cup  oil
6 large eggs

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Let the batter rest for five minutes. Cook the waffles (NOTE: Mine took 5 minutes each, but each machine is different.)  Let cool completely and bag in gallon-size Ziploc bags. Freeze.  On the morning of serving all you need is to toast them until heated through.

NOTE: Double the recipe! While this will take longer to get through all the batter it is so worth it to have all those beautiful, golden waffles in the freezer!

On My Nightstand...All Things Bitter, Relentless, and New

Sunday, November 16, 2014

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I don't know why I do this to myself...starting one book and then another and another.  I am an avid reader, but there are times when I overwhelm myself with books.  This fall I have read quite a bit. I have spent a couple of weekends on the couch with a virus reading and trying to recuperate.  Here's a look at just some of what I have been reading...

I have loved reading Thom Gardner's books. He has several on dealing with emotional healing that I have found to be very helpful. I recently finished another one of his, Relentless Love, in which he talks about God's mercy. We cannot give mercy unless we are convinced of His mercy towards us. His words are beautiful...

Mercy is the supreme source of hope for those who are battered and depleted. In the end, nothing else will bring peace to us but the name of God. In the name of God we are drawn to a table of grace rather than one of negotiation.

Gardner encourages us to not "see the deed but rather the need" behind every hurtful circumstance. Can we look beyond what others have done to us and look at their hearts realizing they themselves are in great need? Jesus did. We are called to do the same.

If there is a book not to be missed this fall it is Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things. I LOVED this book! It is essentially a memoir of a woman's journey through barrenness and how she comes to find hope and healing through the difficulties of life. I read this one in about three days (with the help of that virus that demanded me to rest and because this book is just that good!). You won't want to miss her story and how God works.

Sara writes, "Each blow has a treasure of Him, hidden deep, made for our searching out."

Finally, there is a new devotional at my bedside, New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional. Not that I am much of a devotional gal. I actually don't like devotionals! If I am going to sit down to read God's Word I want to go deep. However, "deep" many times means "duration"...a longer time in God's Word to pull out insights. That is why Paul David Tripp's New Morning Mercies is such a great devotional. There is so much depth on one page!! The devotions within its pages don't have that "feel good" and have a great day sentiment. Tripp's writings make you think and really give you something to hang onto for the day. This one is going to hang out by my bedside for a long time! Tripp has also written to other devotionals that you can read about here.

So what are you reading these days?

Getting Thanksgiving on the Table

Thursday, November 13, 2014

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Thanksgiving in the freezer? Sounds a bit strange, but last year I pre-made a few of our Thanksgiving dinner items and stuck them in the freezer for that infamous Thursday.  It was a lifesaver!

I made the dressing and froze it in a 9 by 13 pan.  I even made a second pan of it for a friend because she loves it so much.  Here is the recipe:

To-Die-For Dressing
{Recipe from my dad}

7 oz.  herb seasoned dressing
7 oz. cornbread stuffing
15 slices dry bread cubes
2 large celery sticks, chopped fine
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups butter
3 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 1/2 tsp sage
chicken broth

Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add celery, onion, sage, and poultry seasoning.  Cook until onion and celery are soft. Put the cubed bread and the two types of stuffing (seasoned and cornbread) into the sauce and mix well.  Pour chicken broth over the bread to make the mixture sticky.  No dry or crunchy stuff!  Spray a pan with oil and put the dressing in the pan.  At this point you can freeze it or bake it for 30 minutes at 325 degrees.  You will need to thaw before baking if that is the route you take.

Mashed potatoes are another item that can be made ahead and put in a pan to be placed in the freezer.  Honestly, I never really use a recipe for mashed potatoes.  I basically peel and quarter the potatoes and cook them in boiling water until tender.  I then blend them in my Kitchen Aid with butter, chicken broth, and either milk, sour cream or cream cheese.

The dessert side of Thanksgiving can also be frozen whether it is a traditional pumpkin pie or another type of dessert.  My family loves pumpkin pie...that is the whole family except me.  While I like it I would prefer to have a different type of pie.  Here are some other options...not very traditional, but hey, why be boring?!  It is ok to mix it up a bit!

Peanut Butter Pie

1 graham cracker pie crust (or a chocolate pie crust)
1 (8oz) package cream cheese
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 T. vanilla
1 (8oz) carton of Cool Whip

Make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature.  Mix all ingredients together and pour into pie crust.  If desired, chop Reese's peanut butter cups and put on top or drizzle melted chocolate chips on top.  Refrigerate for at least four hours before serving.

Key Lime Pie

1 graham cracker crust
4 t. grated lime zest
4 egg yolks
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Preheat oven to 325. Whisk the lime zest and egg yolks together in a medium bowl for 2 minutes (I used my Kitchen Aide). Whisk in the sweetened condensed milk, then the lime juice. Let set a few minutes for the filling to thicken. Pour filling into the crust. Bake until the center is set, yet wiggly when jiggled, about 15 minutes. Cool at room temperature and then refrigerate at least three hours.

Caramel Apple Pie -- A little bit more work, but worth it! Better than normal apple pie!

So be creative! What can you stick in the freezer ahead of time to save you work on the big day?

If you are looking for other ideas on how to take a meal from freezer to table and save time and money check out Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook. Jessica offers loads of great ideas and recipes to make meals easier.

Homeschool Copywork

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

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When my boys were younger copywork was a part of our homeschool day. It was a way to practice penmanship, punctuation, and spelling. As they got older it was also a way to familiarize them with famous quotes or Bible verses.

Our copywork days are long gone, and I wish we had had the following resource to use back then! Homeschool Copywork is a site filled with e-books of copywork. There are materials available for the youngest child in the form of alphabet copywork pages all the way up to older kids who can do copywork with quotes from famous authors or quotes from artists (along with their artwork displayed).

With a membership you can download any of  the e-books to use with your kids. There are a plethora to choose from!  Here is just a small sample of the titles:

Animal Alphabet
Transportation Alphabet
Autumn in the Garden
Monet Artist Study and Copywork
Courage Always Rises-Quotes from Jane Austen
Emily Dickenson Poetry
Character Building Copywork
Vincent van Gogh Artist Study and Copywork (There are FIVE volumes of this!)
Leonardo da Vinci Artist study and Copywork

And there are so many more to choose from! A year-long membership is $24.95, but if you use this coupon code ( 356E45120FCE ) you can get 50% off!

So head on over to Homeschool Copywork and take a look!

When People are Kittens...

Monday, November 10, 2014

I have lived a lifetime of fear. Fear of people. Fear of what they would do to me. Fear of what they would think. Fear of what I would lose if they walked away. I have mastered the "People-Pleaser Ploy", but it did me no good. When you people please you lose you and your self-respect. You become bound to the person you are trying to please, and I have found that as human beings we are "unpleasable". Eventually there will be at least a little discontent and at the worst full-blown rejection.

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I am a huge fan of Edward T. Welch's books.  He has written on anxietydepression, and shame . All three books bring a solid God-centered perspective to the problem. When People Are Big and God is Small is no exception. There are three reasons we fear others: they can humiliate us, reject us, or attack us.  Each of these reasons, however, show that in our hearts they are bigger than God. Welch's book is divided into two parts: why we fear people and how to overcome it.

The ideas that Welch conveys really hit me. I had no idea how big people were in my eyes until I read through the chapters.  We rely, sometimes unknowingly, on people more than we should. Here are a few descriptions that are in the book:

People are gas pumps that fill us.

People are sought-after tickets to acceptance and fame.

People are terrorists. We never know when they will strike next. 

And when we say we can't live without someone...People are the intestine, we are the worm. {It becomes parasitism, not love.}

The only antidote to the fear of man? The fear of God. Not the terror-stricken fear, but rather the reverence and worship that comes by putting Him first in our lives. Because what we fear is what controls us. I no longer what to be control by the whims of man. They are too fickle, too confusing, and too damaging. I rather invest all my hope in the One that will never let me down.

This book has been life-changing for me in how I look at others and at God. Do you struggle with people pleasing like I do? Do you fear what others may think of you? Do you avoid people for fear that you won't be accepted? I would highly recommend that you read Welch's book!

Because remember they are mere kittens when they stand beside the Lion of Judah.

Mountain lion photos courtesy of Harlan Humphrey of Wild Scenic Nature