There's Mail From Mom!

Wouldn't it be nice to have a letter from mom in the mailbox each time you checked it? Here's a place to check your mailbox for a heart-to-heart talk with mom...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall Musings....

  Here it is and September is almost behind us!  I can't believe that the month has gone by as quickly as it has!
  I began on September 1st getting my fall decorations out.  I love my wreath for the door and I love my mantel decorations.  I still don't have my dining room area where I'd like it to be, but that gives me something to look forward to!
      Fall makes me feel cozy and always gets me pulling out the cookbooks to see what I can fix that's comforting and makes my family feel/smell the change of the season.  I've been busy making pumpkin rolls which is one of our family fall favorites. 
      Here's the recipe for anyone that wants to try this delicious dessert!  It's pretty, you can wrap it in plastic wrap and then in foil and freeze it.  Just a little before serving take it out of the freezer and it always slices so much prettier if it's frozen!

Pumpkin Roll

  Beat 3 eggs on high speed with mixer for 5 minutes.  (This is when you're glad you have a stand mixer!)  Gradually stir in 1 cup granulated sugar.  (That's underlined because I forgot it more than once!)  Stir in 2/3 cup pumpkin and 1 tsp. lemon juice.
   Stir together:
   3/4 cup flour
   1 tsp. baking powder
   2 tsp. cinnamon
   1 tsp. ginger
   1/2 tsp. salt
   1/2 tsp. nutmeg 
  *For those of you on a tight enough budget you can't go buy ginger and nutmeg, you can up the cinnamon by a tsp. and it is still wonderful!

   Fold into pumpkin.  Spread in grease and floured 15x10x1-inch pan. (This is a smaller cookie sheet.  Be sure and really give it the greasing and flouring or lots of Pam.  You don't want it to stick!)
At this point you can top it with 1 cup of chopped nuts.  You need to press them down into the batter a little or they'll tend to fall out after you roll it up.  I don't put nuts in mine.
   Bake at 375 degrees for 13-15 minutes.  Turn onto a towel that has been generously sprinkled with powdered sugar.  Starting at the narrow end, roll the towel and cake together; cool.  Unroll and spread with the filling below.

   1 cup powdered sugar
   6 oz. cream cheese (I use a full 8 oz. package)
   4 Tbsp. butter or margarin
   1/2 tsp. vanilla (I use 1 tsp.)
  Beat smooth, spread over cake.  (Stay about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch away from the edges as it will spread when you roll it.)  Roll cake back up.  Chill. 

  I have added a section to the back of my cookbook called Fall Recipes I have so many that we love to eat in the fall!  One of our favorites is German Apple Cake.  We love it with Cream Cheese Frosting but it's also good with Penuche Frosting, Caramel Frosting or even the Browned Butter Frosting. 
   It's this time of year that I usually make UT Fudge.  Since our UT game days are over (the fans have all moved away!) I don't have as much fun making this for an event like I used to, but my family is still so in love with it.  It tastes like a Dreamsicle.
   I usually make a Maple Nut Twist this time of year.  It is a large breakfast sweet bread that you make on a round pizza pan.  You twist the outside edges of it and it's full of yummy cinnamon sugar and maple flavoring inside with a maple glaze.  My bunch usually all try to get the center out of it because it is so delicious.
   Also this time of year finds me making Pumpkin Doughnut Drops and sometimes even my Grandma Mettler's Long Johns.  Mmmmmmm.....
  Breadbaking is a given in this house but this time of year it gets better.  When you walk in a house on a fall day and the bread has just come out of the oven you can't resist going and cutting off the end of that warm bread, slathering it with butter and homemade strawberry jam or honey and slowly eating it!
  My mother's caramel corn seems to always show up this time of year too!  Can't do without an ice cream bucket full of that sitting around in the fall!
  We love soups and stews this time of year too.  Potato soup (in homemade bread bowls with lots of cheese on top) , Corn chowder, Chili, Beef Stew are just some of our favorites.
   I also make goulash with cornbread for my husband each fall.  He loves it any time of year but says it tastes better in the fall. 

   John loves projects and activities and last year we wanted to do this but my health didn't allow me much but the basics.  This year we're going to have a backyard campfire and try to learn to cook over the campfire.  I've already found the neatest afterdark craft we're going to have ready for our evening campfires. 
   It's found on this link and it is #9 of the projects.   I can't wait to see how pretty this is going to be in the dark.  We'll probably do several of them and make a perimeter around  our campfire area.
   I'm sure my older married children can remember how many times we took the rack out of my oven and put it over rocks on a campfire outside.  We even learned to cook breakfast in an iron skillet out there.  So much fun with kids.  Teach them some of the fun cowboy songs there are to sing or teach them the "Moose Song" that my grandkids like to sing with me!

     Well, that's my autumn musings for now...sure wish I could have everyone over for some of this fall food and atmosphere.  My husband just walked in and it's time for some vegetable soup with corn bread!



Thursday, September 1, 2011

The first priority....just one thing!

  We all have priorities rather we acknowledge it or not.  In our heads we have to decide what we're going to do first in our day, where our time and money will go first, who will get our attention first....and that list could go on and on! 
  In Matthew 6 the Lord is preaching and He talks about those things that want our attention first.  I guess we could also say that they are what our "old man" or our flesh desires to put first, so He gives us a warning and a command.

  He talks about "treasures" and tell us not to become consumed with the earthly treasures that want our attention and love first.  That word "treasures" He used is talking about a storehouse or a place that we keep the things that matter most to us.  It is talking about the literal treasures we might lay up or the treasures that we store up in our heart and soul.   We are told that wherever our treasures are we will find our heart.  Things consume our time and our attention.  As a wife and mother we should always remember that our things are to be there to serve us and not the other way around!  A good way to test where your treasure is would be to pay attention to what uses up your time and your money.  If we really want something bad enough we'll find the time and the money for it.  It's good to review on a regular basis and see if something is consuming us! 
   Another good checkpoint that I use is to ask myself if I am neglecting any God-given duties. If I am then I know that I have something in my life I am "treasuring" more than Him.  If I can't find time to spend time with the Lord then I have another god in my life that is consuming the time that should be His.  It's time to see what "other love" has kept me from the Lord. If I can't seem to find time to care for the needs of my husband and children then I need to see what is more important to me than those I'm given to care for by the word of God.  Why can't I find time to cook their meals, wash their clothes, teach and train them like I should?  If I don't have any time for that I need to be removing another earthly treasure from my life. 
  I read a  and I find in books  and articles on taking care of yourself physically they always are death on the excuse "I can't find time."  They give statistics on how much time is spent in front of the tv or the computer and they explain that you do have the time, you're just not using it for the right thing!
  It is true that if we truly love something we don't find time we make time!
   In verses 22 and 23 the Lord talks about the single eye versus the evil eye.  The best definition I ever read for the word single was "to look away from all else".  That is the way to get your priorities in order.  We have to look away from all else but the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Hebrews 12:2)  As much as I desire to keep first things first it won't happen without the indwelling Holy Spirit.  He's the One that gave me the desire in the first place and He's the One that enables me to keep my priorities in an order that glorifies and magnifies Him.  "For  it is God  which worketh in you both  to will and to do  of his good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13)
  There are so many things that are wanting my attention and begging me to look at them instead of what the Word of God (Christ) says.  If for even a short time I turn my head and begin to give them my attention things will fall apart in the spiritual world for me. 
  The evil eye is defined as "being full of labours, annoyances, hardships, being harrassed by annoyances and hardships, perils to my Christian faith and stedfastness."  That is exactly the opposite of the single eye where we are steadfastly looking to Christ for the truth and the ability to live the truth.  It goes right along with the different hearts the Lord talks about and what is used by Satan to destroy them.  It is so important to keep what He says as most important and to not listen to all the questions and doubt that our flesh and Satan hurls at us. 
  You know the questions, "What about....?" and "What if....?"   Sometimes he uses people we don't know and sometimes he uses very real people that we love to make us question what we know the word of God teaches us. 
    If you want a real good thumping just listen to the media.  All the Lord teaches us is questioned, critiqued and mocked.  After you've spent any amount of time watching tv, reading the news, reading their books and their self-help material you can really question the Lord and lose your stedfast faith!
  He ends the discussion of the single eye and the evil eye with the warning that we cannot have two masters.  One will always have our loyalty over the other.  If He is not our Master and doesn't have our loyalty then "mammon" has our love and loyalty.  And we're told in I John 2:15-17 that if we're friends with the world we're not friends with Him and His love is not in us.
  The last point the Lord makes before telling us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness is telling us not to make food, drink and clothing a matter of focus in our lives.  He tells us that He can take care of all that and when we focus on fretting over where it is going to come from then we're not making Him first in our lives. 
  He says the Gentiles seek these things and as His children we're not to do that.  The word seek there means to "crave, demand, clamor for, seek diligently for, enquire for".  Sounds like it was important, doesn't it?
   Then we have the verse that our first priority is in.  Matthew 6:33, "But  seek ye first the kingdom  of God , and his  righteousness ; and all these things  shall be added unto you ."
 This verse promises us that if we keep first things first then He'll take care of all that the flesh, the world and Satan would have us fret about. 
  I can be the queen of fretters.  Worry seems to be second nature to me.  But the Lord has faithfully taught me in the last few years that if I'll keep my walk and fellowship where it ought to be with Him I won't have to even fret about fretting!  Walking with Him makes the life He offers to live in me, through me and for me so simple.
  It's hard to believe it's as simple as having a daily time with the Lord to keep your priorities where they ought to be, but it works.  I'm not talking about just grabbing your Bible, your Bible reading chart and your prayer journal and rushing through it so the conscience is soothed.  I've done that many a time! 
   I'm talking about recognizing that you're in His presence and talking to Him like you would the best friend you have on earth.  Reading the Bible and asking Him to impress on you what you need today.  The word seek in Matthew 6:33 has a different meaning then the one in verse 32.  It means "to seek for, to seek (in order to find out) by thinking, meditating, and reasoning; to strive after, to inquire into". 
  I've not found one thing that I had a question about that when I turned to the Lord and seriously asked Him about that He didn't give me the answer and I never questioned it again.  That was true of my role as a woman, my place and purpose in life, my full surrender, my dress, my lifestyle as a Christian and I could name more that I've brought to Him.  The will has to be yielded though, you have to say, "Thy will be done." and then do it when He answers. It's always brought me joy--not a feeling of being deprived. 
   During my "wilderness years" when I struggled with depression I read my Bible but my prayer life suffered terribly.  Over and over I asked Him to please show me the path out of my darkness and confusion.  (This is a story in itself that I won't try to tell here.)  It wasn't like a single lightbulb moment but the only verse He ever gave me that I knew was concerning my illness was "He sent his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions." (Psalms 107:20) 
  I began to realize that when my husband took his pastorate that I went from being a Mary who set faithfully at the feet of the Lord each day soaking in all He had for me into being a Martha--busy serving tables and meeting the needs of others but neglecting my sweet fellowship that I'd once had because I was just too busy!
  Did I read my Bible and pray?  Yes, but it wasn't what I'd had with Him before and as I gave and gave and never took from Him as I should all the joy was drained from me.
  I know now that I had to go back to where I left my first love (and we don't lose it we leave it) and once again sit with Him and find sweet fellowship in our relationship.  I now have on the first page of my prayer journal "But  one thing is  needful: and Mary hath chosen that good  part, which shall not be taken away  from  her."   (Luke 10:42)  I have it there to remind myself that if I'll keep that one thing  -the first thing in its proper place then I'll be just fine no matter what comes my way. 
  What about you?  Does the word "overwhelmed" fit your life?  Does there seem to be so many tasks and responsibilities that you don't know where to start?  Are you questioning that maybe, just maybe you need to adapt to today's culture and fit in and then possibly things will go better?  Does it seem that more money would solve your problems?  Maybe you're tempted to think that life would be better if you could get out of your marriage?  Maybe you should give the children away to someone else to teach and train you're so overwhelmed with the task?  Are you feeling weary of not looking the way the world dictates you should look?  Are you embarassed of being different in what you have, where you go, what you wear?  Are you to the point you'd rather fit in with the world than be classified with the Christians of today?   Are you envious of what "they" have that you seem to be doing without?
  When I was in my early Mary years I was totally unaware that I didn't fit in I was so full of joy in my relationship with the Lord.  People would often comment on the sweet spirit in our home or the peace and there were four little bodies running around the house and we were living on an income that didn't begin to pay our bills! 
  Now He has me there again.  And it all came from keeping that first priority in order, from making that one thing have its proper place in my life.  If you're overwhelmed I beg of you to make the time in your day to sit at His feet and commune with Him in the Word of God and prayer.  Don't fret about rather you're doing it all right--just do it.  Find a closet (like I had to do during my children's naptime when they were all toddler) or a place on your porch or even the kitchen table but find a time and a place and get that first priority in its place.  The Lord will work the miracle in the rest of your life for you then!