Monday, December 31, 2012

Well everyone, it is the last day of 2012! Hard to believe! 2013 sounds sooo strange. Ok, maybe not sooo much ( lol! ), but it is amazing how quickly the years are ticking by and how much happens in a year. I always get a little weird feeling when trying to wrap my mind around the fact that another year is ending. I gave up on New Year's Resolution lists a loooong time ago because it's just so disappointing when you don't get it finished off. I'm sure everyone has had that experience. :P Instead, I try to make daily goals, which are basically all the same ones I'd want for a whole year. It's just a lot nicer to have a daily list rather than a year list because if you don't get something done in a day, that doesn't sound as bad. I mean, there's only so much time in a day, ya know? :D
 My ultimate goal every day is to draw closer to the Lord. He is my everything, my stronghold, my mighty tower, my Saviour. I love Him with all my heart. I desire to please Him with all I do. I know I fail Him each day, but I also know that as long as I want to do what is right, He forgives me.
 I also want to live for others, love others, and be as healthy as I can. These are all hard to do, and I know I fail these goals as well, but I still desire to fulfill these things to the best of my ability. I think the hardest thing for a person to do is to be self-less. Put others first, die to your own wants. Being in a household where there are little ( and not so little ) kids like I have been these last few days and for a few days more certainly has been reminding me of that. If you want to learn a lot of lessons in how your actions and words affect others and how to really be patient and self-less, take care of kids. It is not easy. But in the end, it is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. When you earn their trust, respect, and love, you have been given one of the greatest gifts. It is truly amazing.
 So don't fret when you fail your resolutions for the new year! Strive to live every day as best you can and that is more than enough. In fact, that is even better than trying to follow something through a new year. You don't lose sight of your goal if you keep it in your mind daily and not put it off for the future. You don't lose heart when you haven't reached your goal fast enough. The Bible says to not worry about tomorrow for there is enough trouble today and tomorrow will take care of itself. Certainly a good principle to live by and one that we can all lose sight of.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Not Over Yet

 The story of the birth of our Lord is not over with once the shepherds come to see the babe in the manger. In Matthew the second chapter it tells of the wise men coming to Jerusalem to inquire of Herod about the newborn king. In the latter part of the second chapter of Luke, it tells of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus going to the temple to offer sacrifices. There a man named Simeon and also woman named Anna glorified God and prophesied over the babe and his mother. 
 It is incredible how many times heavenly beings are mentioned. It was an angel who told Zacharias of John. He also appeared to Mary, to Joseph several times, and to the shepherds and wise men. Every step of the way angels appeared. How amazing!!! 

Unto us a Child is born, a Son is given

" And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. "
" And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. "
" But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. "

Luke 2: 6&7, 8-14, 19

This is Christmas.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Bethlehem Journey

" And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. " Luke 2:1, 3-5
 There are many that do not realize that Jesus' birth was not truly in December. December 25th used to be ( and can still be ) a pagan holiday. As a Christian, although not the actual time of the birth of Christ, is a time I set aside to celebrate His birth. Let's investigate.
 Jesus is the Lamb of God. All Lambs are born in the Spring. Also, why would Caesar announce a tax time for everyone to have to travel to their hometown in the winter? It snows there in the hills of Judaea same as in many other places around the world! Think of how our modern system is run in the United States. Taxes are in the Spring. While there is still no set date ( not even a month! ) as to when Jesus was really born, this makes a lot more sense. Travel was hard enough in those days, with rough paths and primitive modes of transportation. In fact, many walked. What a journey that must have been for Mary! How Joseph must have worried over her and the unborn babe. But they arrived safely, with our Lord to be born soon after.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Zacharias's Praise

" And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. " Luke 1:67-75

Merry Christmas!

Mary's Praise

" And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. "
Luke 1:46-55
 God is very deserving of our praise! We shouldn't even have to wait for the miraculous to happen to give Him the glory and honor He is worthy of. Many wondrous things are listed all through the Bible as to what God is and does. Quite a few are named in the passage above. What has God done for you, for me, even today that credits praise? Perhaps the most miraculous of all is the fact that He has allowed me to be on this earth one more day. Perhaps the most " minute " is the fact that He cares enough about me to let a new spin on a recipe turn out, or that a friend of mine happened to be online at the same time I was so I could say hello. These little moments of joy are love gifts from God! He is just as deserving of a thank you for the little things as the big things. 
 Perhaps talking about the little things may seem a discredit in light of the very incredible things Mary is giving glory to God for. It is only that in seeing the great things of God that puts me in mind of the small things. Note that Mary rejoices in the fact that God noticed her despite her ' low estate '. Without the little, we would not have the big. Everything starts out small, then grows into something bigger. :) 
 This season, let the little sparks of God ignite into a fire that burns brighter in the soon-coming new year as you ponder all that God has done for us all through eternity. The greater part of His salvation plan began as a seed in the womb of a lowly virgin. That seed grew to be a man that died on a cross for all mankind's sin. Amen! What great, glorious riches indeed!

Merry Christmas!

" Oh, Come Let Us Adore Him
Christ, the Lord. "

Friday, December 21, 2012

Simple Words

" And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. " Luke 1:38
 As fear turned to awe at the presence of this heavenly being before her and his message to her, another feeling washed over Mary. Humility. So many times it is hard to be humble. She could have taken pride in the fact that God deemed her worthy enough to bear Jesus. Yet it was her simplicity that pleased Him. I believe that is why He chose her. He knew she would accept the Word and all that came with it without scoffing, without being prideful, without complaining. Mary is a wonderful example of what our reaction should be when asked to perform a task for the Lord and others. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

And the Angel came...

" And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. For with God nothing shall be impossible. " 
Luke 1:30-33, 35, 37
 Between these lines of scripture are the outlines of Mary's reactions to what Gabriel is saying to her. It says she was troubled and wondered what the greeting meant. She also questioned how she was to be with child, since she had not been with a man. I'm sure there was panic and fear rising up in her as she wondered how - and why - Jehovah God had chosen her to be the incubator of His flesh being. Yet, Gabriel ended his revelations to her with the perfect reassurance: Nothing is impossible with God. I am sure that at that moment peace washed over and she felt calmed. 
 Whatever seemingly impossible mountain you are facing, keep in mind that with God NOTHING is impossible. All you have to do is believe, only believe. Faith in God is what moves those mountains!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

God with us

" Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. " Isaiah 7:14
Do you know what Immanuel means? Immanuel means ' God with us '. How truly wonderful to know that God is with us. Capture that thought. Roll it over in your mind. God with us. How reverent and holy that sounds. How full is the love of God that He would desire to become us and be with us. How humbling. Immanuel. God with us.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Luke 1:18-20

 " ...And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. " Luke 1:18-20
 After years of waiting and praying for a child and as old age steals on, Zacharias and Elisabeth lost hope of receiving a child. Then the time came - in an unexpected way! Old Zacharias is in disbelief, shocked out of his skin. His prayers have been answered! Oh, wait a minute...Gabriel? Elisabeth and I are the age of most grandparents. This sounds impossible! 
 While the results of Zacharias's disbelief were serious, there is a bit of humor in this. I don't say this in a disrespectful way though. Put it in today's terms: we pray, forget as time goes by, then God finally answers our prayer when we least expect it... and we freak out. ' Wow! He really was listening! '  I'm sure God does get a chuckle or two out of some of our reactions to His blessings and answered prayers. Just be careful not to cross that fine line and earn His displeasure along with His answer. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

" There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. " Luke 1:5-7
 There are those who believe that what happens to us in this life are the result of our good or bad behavior. There are indeed consequences to both, but not all that happens to us ( especially those who are Christians ) is because of our sin or our good deeds. There are things that are justly the will of God and a part of His plan for a purpose. 
 Look at Zacharias and Elisabeth. It says they were both righteous in the sight of God. They followed the law to a tee. Yet, they had no child. Something that was greatly desired of Elisabeth and cherished among women. Year after year had passed until they became past the age of bearing. It was not as punishment for a misdeed, a horrific hidden sin. They walked perfect before the Lord, remember? No, it was simply part of God's blueprint for their lives. Every person, every event, had been timed down to the minute when and how it was all supposed to finally come together.
 God still works that way today. We may have unexplainable happenings in our lives - a sudden death, foreclosure, the loss of a good job, a project that keeps dragging out longer and longer. Don't worry. Stay in prayer, stay firm in the faith. God doesn't have to answer to us. He doesn't have to give us a play-by-play. His only request is that we simply trust in what He is doing. Part of his job is giving beauty for ashes; taking the broken, confusing pieces and making sense of it all. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Old Testament Prophecy

" For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  ' Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel." 
Isaiah 9: 6-8
I know I seem to really be focusing on Isaiah, but there is so much wisdom and prophecy contained within. The foretelling of the birth and life of both John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus are written within this book. These verses are so encouraging. They remind us of some of the attributes of God, as well as His purpose. He is all this and more! He is everything. Let's give the Lord praise this season for all He is and all He does. May we bind in out hearts the attribute of God that we are in need of. He is Father to the fatherless; Counseller to those that seek guidance; Peace to those who are in turmoil. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Miracles of Christmas

" Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. And Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. " Isaiah 60:1 & 3

" Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not faint or grow weary; there is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint; to them who have no power He increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young man shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. " Isaiah 40: 29-31

 What glorious verses! I find the first verse so fitting for this time of year. The latter as well, for the holidays can be quite consuming of our energy. I draw strength from Isaiah 40 and can see many times in my life when God gave me strength beyond what I had. Last night was one of those times. My cat, who is quite old, was acting really strange last last night. I noticed that in the space of just a few minutes, she had frequented her catbox numerous times. As time passed, these trips became more and more frequent in less and less time. She'd hardly leave before she was back in again. We grew quite concerned, especially after checking her box and not seeing any difference despite how much she had been in there. I looked up her symptoms and there were two choices: a kitty UTI/bladder infection, or a blockage. The first can be easily treated at home and goes away with usually no complications in a few day's time. The second can be fatal if not treated immediately. The main sign of a blockage is kitty not passing a decent amount of urine in 12 hours.
 By this time we had started praying and treating her. She was beginning to bleed some. My worry mounted. It was late, so we made sure she had a contained area. Missy had other plans. She wanted me. So I put a protector on my bed and we settled in. I was too worried to sleep much, dozing with the light on and getting her out every hour to eat or use the litterbox. She passed a bit of bloody matter. In the morning she was perky and seemed to be doing fine! I am so thankful God cares about even the little animals. I believe the stuff she passed was what was causing the issue and could have been a blockage, but God performed a miracle so she didn't need surgery.

Joy of the Season

" Then Ezra told them, Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet drink, and send the portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. And be not grieved and depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold. " Nehemiah 8:10 (amplified)

" Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased. " Luke 2:15 (amplified)

 These verses are from some little devotionals I've been using that are specific for this time of year. They are so uplifting! The verse from Nehemiah reminds me that there is so much more to Jesus' birth than just what is outlined in the Gospels. Though much is said about the joy of the season, I fear we sometimes hardly stand back and search out what that truly means. It seems plainly defined in the above mentioned verse. What drew me is the part about giving to him that has nothing prepared. Sure, we stick our shopping change in the bell-ringer's bucket. Gives us a good feeling, right? Giving is so much more than that. Be creative and relish in what you can do for those that have not this year. Most of all, we should have joy this time of year ( and all year! ) simply for what God does for us daily: gives us strength. It may be physical strength. It may be spiritual strength. It may be emotional strength. Nevertheless, it is strength. God is our stronghold we can run to in times of need. THAT is something to be joyful about. There is a Friend that is closer than a brother. :)

 Let us also give glory to God! Living in peace and having peace is something not very many people enjoy today. I think of the families of the ones killed in the school shooting in Connecticut today. There is little doubt those there are not feeling much peace after such a horrific event. My heartfelt prayers go out to them and all who have recently lost a loved one by whatever circumstance. It is not easy to lose a loved one at this time of year when the majority of society is celebrating. I've been there. Yet, we should give glory to God, giver of every good and perfect gift. When the Lord is pleased with our lives, He promises peace to us. May we seek to follow the Lord with all fervency so that peace will abound in our lives.

Baked Persimmon " Pudding "
( Gluten, Sugar, & Dairy Free )

2 Fuyu persimmons, orange & soft to touch
1 cup almond milk ( or milk of choice )
2 eggs
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon rum flavoring
1/2 cup sweet white sorghum flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch/flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350.
Remove stem and pits from the persimmons.
Puree in blender.
Add in other liquids.
Blend until smooth.
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
Pour in wet ingredients.
Stir well.
Pour in a greased 9x9 or similar sized pan.
Place in a pan that is larger.
Fill larger pan with water up to pudding line.
Bake until golden, with cracks, and pulling away from edge.

( Tastes good with Eggnog and/or Whipped Cream. )

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Winter Reflections

 I know it has been quite awhile since I have posted, and I am so very sorry! There just doesn't seem to be enough time in a day anymore. Not that I've been doing all that much. Haha. Just life, ya know? :D Anyway, the holiday season has been upon us for some time now and is beginning to climax. We've got the nativity up, candles, and a decoration by our front door. Christmas cards are on their way to family and friends. I hope to get our traditional gingerbread house kit on our trip to Costco this weekend. ( We don't eat it, but it's for old times sake, right? :D ) There are still gifts to be bought, goodies to make, and Christmas stories to read.    
 However, I don't want to forget about the greatest Christmas story of them all. It is one that is much more than just a Christmas story, for it is true. It is what Christmas is all about. The Christ child. God coming in flesh to live and die for us. The beginning of salvation, a babe being born of a virgin to live a sinless life and become the sin sacrifice. How amazing is that? So although there is much to enjoy about this time of year, let us not get lost in the wonder of lights and gifts and that good feeling that comes with the season, but in the wonder of creation and God and new life. May we bask in the humble part of Christmas. God gave himself to us, so let us give ourselves back.
 I want to try and put up a verse that has drawn my attention or a thought that has come to me every day until Christmas. I'm a day late in starting my little " 12 Days of Christmas " project, but it's not exactly about keeping to a schedule. It's about remembering what this time of year is really about.

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces...
 We will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Isaiah 25:8,9 & 26:3

Homemade Old-Fashioned Eggnog
( the healthy way ;D )

3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon rum flavoring
1 teaspoon nutmeg
6-8 packets Truvia
1-2 teaspoons psyllium seed powder

Put all but last ingredients in a blender at low speed.
While running, add psyllium.

 It may seem strange to see me not cook the eggnog and to have ingredients like Truvia and psyllium, but that is the way I've learned it best. I have certainly seen eggnog recipes that did not heat it. Truvia is a sugar-free sweetener that does the job perfect. I find it in the baking section in just about any grocery store. The psyllium can be most likely found in the health food section of say, Fred Meyer. I put this in to thicken it instead of all those other thickeners you will find in store bought nog. It sets up within minutes, although it seems thin at first. Don't be tempted to add more! You will have eggnog pudding instead. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sweet Taste of Success :)

 Am I ever happy! Today I woke up with the distinct craving for gingerbread men. :D I looked through my list of healthy blogs I follow, hoping to find something that met my criteria for a perfect gingerbread man. I found what I was looking for on my first try. They looked like they were not crunchy and they looked normal. I think I hear chuckling. :D I'm with ya! Since I do gluten free as much as I can - as well as sugar free - this gets me excited. :D If it's healthy and it still looks and tastes like the real deal, it goes on the A list.
 So I ate gingerbread men ( and snowmen, hahaha ) for breakfast. Bliss! ( ok, it was actually almost lunch time by then :P ) Tonight I made the rest of the dough. ( thought it might be a good idea to have it refrigerate like it is supposed to, although there was no problem rolling 'em out not having done that ) I had another craving. Icing. But how is one to make icing when there is no powdered sugar in the house? Don't ask me how I dreamed this one up, but BINGO! I made delicious sugar-free icing. YES!!! You read that right! :D And it involved no cream cheese, ucky, unhealthy boxes of sugar free pudding/jello mix or ucky, unhealthy sugar free sweeteners like splenda. So how did I create this golden wonder? Let me tell you:

I took a couple TBS worth of room temp. butter and put in in a bowl. Then I added maybe a TBS or less of agave syrup ( honey would work too ) and whisked it until it was creamy. Then I added 3 packets of truvia ( gotta be the best stuff ever! ). Then I added maybe 3-4 TBS ( give or take ) of tapioca starch/flour and whisked it some more. VOILA!!! It looked like icing/frosting...dip a finger tasted like it too!!! :D I then scooped it up and plopped it in a ziploc, cut a bit of the corner off and frosted away. :) :) :)

So the idea here is to make it like you like it. Make it sweeter with more truvia. Make it stiffer with more starch. Dye it. Have fun with your guiltless yumminess!

OH! I almost forgot! I got my gingerbread men recipe from Ginger Lemon Girl's blog. :) The only changes I made to her recipe is I used 1 generous TBS of powdered ginger and 1/2 cup of coconut sugar plus 4 packets of truvia in place of the 3/4 c brown sugar.