Friday, February 29, 2008

Thoughts on three year olds and birthday cake

Yesterday was a special day - our grandson Avery turned three years old. Since his parents are working, they decided to have his party tomorrow. That means Birthday Cake!


I love knowing where things originated, so I googled Birthday Cake and found some interesting info.

There are several ideas on the origin of Birthday Cake. Some attribute it to the Germans in the middle ages who baked sweetened bread dough shaped to resemble the baby Jesus in swaddling clothes. These were made during the Christmas holiday season to celebrate His birth. The Germans also made a special cake for Kinderfest (the birthday celebration for a young child) and a special sweet layer cake called Geburtstagorten.

Others believe the idea of birthday cakes originated with the Greeks and Romans. The Greeks baked round cakes sweetened with honey which were taken to the temple of Artemis, goddess of the moon. The Romans however, loved to party and celebrated all sorts of birthdays including those of their families, the cities where they lived and even their emperors. Their special cakes were made of flour, grated goat''s cheese, olive oil and honey for sweetening.

Leave it to the English to add some fun to the birthday cake tradition by baking small objects into the sweetened cakes. If you found a coin in your cake, you were supposed to be blessed during the coming year. If you received a thimble, you might just end up an old maid...

Does your family have a favorite recipe for birthday cake? When my children were small, I made their cakes from scratch using a yellow cake recipe.

One-Two-Three-Four Cake

1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Cream shortening; add sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add flavoring.Sift together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Mix well and place in greased and sugared bundt or tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until done.
For some added fun, I used to cut the finished cake half and placed the halves end to end to create an "S" shaped caterpillar, decorated with frosting, gum drops, licorice legs and a pair of wiggly eyes.

My daughter now carries on the tradition of creating special cakes for her children. This past year, Jack got a cake decorated with blue icing and frosted spider webs because he loves Spiderman. Eve asked for a guitar shaped cake. That one was fun!

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Well, since Avery is only three, I don't think we'll be putting anything in his cake! Actually, I doubt it will even be real cake since he likes ice cream better than cake. Carvel, here we come!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Project: V.B.S.

For years my DH and I have been involved in planning Vacation Bible School events. VBS is a traditional summer outreach that not only gives children something to do during their summer vacation, but also is a great way to share Christ's love with them.

Since we have pastored small churches throughout our ministry, we have always faced off against the small church's mortal enemies - small or non-existent budgets and a small labor pool. Sometimes, even the facilities were lacking.

Still, our church members have always wanted to run some kind of summer outreach because it was important to them to minister to the children in the local community. We cannot compete with larger, more affluent churches, but we have learned to draw on the resources we have and "make it do or do without."

For the next several weeks on Wednesdays, I'd like to share some planning tools and ideas we've used for our VBS type events to spark your creativity to plan your own events.

Planning your own events from the foundation up has several advantages: Your VBS will be different from everyone else's event. Our experience has taught us that by planning our own events, we involve more of our church people, including those who do not usually help with children's ministry. They end up "owning" the event and caring about it because they put more of themselves into it. These VBS events have not only reached out to the kids, but have energized our adults as well!

Planning tip #1 Assess your resources to help you determine the type of outreach you can safely and successfully promote

A. Assess your human resources
- How many people can you count on to help?
- Are there others who don't usually participate but may help in specific areas if asked? (Often, people will not volunteer to teach, but if asked, they may lead games or prepare snacks, etc., especially if it is for a short term commitment like a day or a week.)
- What special skills or resources do the people in your church posses that may be used for an outreach? (carpenters. business owners, etc.)
- Prayer support for the event. Do you have people who will commit to pray for it?

B. Assess your facilities
- What kind of space do you have for an outreach? (sanctuary, large lot with pavilion, gymnasium-type room or fellowship hall) This will help you determine later what type of outreach you want to have and may even lend itself to a theme or type of activity you want to promote.
- Do you have any unusual facilities to create a unique outreach event? It will make your event uniquely yours! For instance - our church here has a wonderful, well-kept baseball field which would make a great outreach area for a baseball themed VBS program. Another church we pastored had a 62 acre wilderness area with a pavilion which lent itself to a day can\mp type of program.
- Assess the safety and usability of those facilities.

C. Assess your financial resources
- What kind of budget do you have for a VBS-type outreach? Don't be dismayed if you have little or none. If Jesus can take a little boy's five loaves and two fish and feed 5,000 + people, you will be able to reach out to the children in your community with a minuscule budget as long as it is prayerfully done.
- Honestly list your financial resources and prioritize the expenditures, like supplies, advertising, etc.
- Are there local businesses which can donate money or items? (You may find that this will be addressed again farther into the planning stages when you know exactly what you need)

D. Assess your program options
- A traditional VBS which requires a full complement of teachers and workers
- A modified VBS where you use a rotation system which requires fewer teachers but more support personnel
- A children's crusade where all the children remain in one area but the activities are fast paced
-Camp, Craft, Workshop type event where one particular skill is emphasized
- A week, two weeks or one day event.
-Indoor vs. outdoor
- Date and time for event

Here's your homework! Do a preliminary assessment of your resources. What do you have to work with - which will help you know the size and type of outreach you can plan. Then let me know what you've come up with. Feel free to e-mail me if you have questions or comments at

Join me next week as we discuss a Theme for your event.

Happy planning!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Never Let The Sun Go Down...

"Miracles have happened when God's people come together in
~ Billy Graham ~

“Never let the sun go down on your anger.” The words from Ephesians ruminated in my head, coupled with a nagging sense of dread as I maneuvered my car out of Mom’s driveway to return to my home that fall day.
Guilt mingled with my tears at the thoughts of leaving with both of us upset. “Lord, I know I left things unsettled between us, but I just couldn’t take it anymore. She’s fighting me at every turn, no matter how hard I try to help.”

I tried to pray, pushing the niggling anxiety over the long trip out of my mind. “Watch over me as I travel home. Protect me and give me a safe trip. I don’t know how Mom would manage in her state of mind if something happened to me.”

As I settled in for the six hour drive, I used the time to rehash the events of the last two weeks…
When the call came that Dad was in the hospital, I knew Mom needed me. Her memory showed evidence of slipping, even though she was only in her late 60’s. I feared she had Alzheimer’s disease and knew she should not be left alone. I took two weeks off from my job as a news writer and traveled from upstate New York to southeastern Pennsylvania. The trip was uneventful in spite of my anxiety about traveling alone.

Though Mom seemed to be managing fine when I arrived, I noticed the telltale signs like her restlessness. She wandered to the kitchen and rummaged in her purse. Then she wandered back into the living room for more conversation.

“Where’s Dad?” she asked, like a tape that kept on rewinding.

“In the hospital.” I tried to be patient each time she brought it up.

“We better get ready to go see him.”

“We can’t go until this evening.”

“Why?” I could hear the agitation in her voice every time the conversation progressed to this point.

“Because the hospital will only let us visit every other day after supper.” It was pointless to explain the rules of the mental health ward over and over. She couldn’t seem to grasp why he was hospitalized.

“You just don’t want to go. I’ll have to go by myself.” She’d huff and wander to the kitchen again, probably looking for her keys which I removed from her purse.

That evening my brother picked us up for the 20 mile trip to the hospital. While Mom visited with Dad, we both agreed it was time to seek medical treatment for her. Since my brother worked during the day, it fell to me to make arrangements for appointments with the local neurologist. The problem wasn’t scheduling the appointment – the doctor was very accommodating. My mom was the problem.

“Why are we going to the doctor?” I heard the agitated tone in her voice and saw the stubborn set of her jaw.

“He wants to see how you’re doing. You have a little trouble remembering sometimes.”

“I don’t need to go. There’s nothing wrong with my memory!” With the Lord’s help, I finally got her there, though she became increasingly angry with me.

The doctor’s questions didn’t help either, as he tried to assess the degree of memory loss. She soon became agitated with him as well. After the exam, he indicated she had evidence of the dreaded dignity-robbing disease and prescribed one of the newer medications on the market to help retard the symptoms. He also set up a brain scan appointment for the following week.
For the rest of the day, she seemed upset with me. “I just don’t understand why you had to take me there.” I didn’t mention the brain scan appointment – I’d cross that bridge when the time came.

During the next visit to the hospital, my brother and I tried to tell Dad about Mom’s condition, but he accused us of interfering. He consistently denied anything more than a little forgetfulness - and everyone has that.

After a few days, Mom did settle down and we had a surprisingly good visit. We looked at old photo albums and talked about family vacations and memories. We visited the craft stores and ate at some of the local restaurants for lunch. I treasured that time with her, knowing it might be the last really good visit we had.

Her brain scan was scheduled the day before I planned to return home. She balked at bathing and dressing for the doctor’s appointment. She fought with me all the way there and even threatened to walk out of the waiting room. Though she submitted to the scan, she alternately cried and shouted at me all the way home.

I couldn’t hold it together anymore. Her attitude and sharp words hurt. I was angry at her diagnosis and upset with her.

“I have to leave, Mom.” I rushed upstairs to pack my bag, Even though I planned to leave the next day, I had to get away before I lost my temper with her completely. My nerves were raw and I hated myself for forcing her to go to the brain scan appointment. I bit back the harsh words churning in my mind.

As I stood at the door with my overnight case in hand, she became penitent and child-like, hugging me with tears in her eyes. “Don’t go. I’m sorry.”

“Bobby will be here to check on you after work and take you to the hospital to see Dad. I have to go back to my job.” It was a lie; I still had the rest of the day and evening to spend with her. I was out of there by lunchtime, on the road heading north.

I wept and prayed, trying to quell the anger and hurt I felt. As I neared home, I felt better. The trip had gone well and nothing had happened. Mom would be all right and I dealt with my feelings enough to go on with life. The sign announcing the Watertown exit appeared ahead.

I was in the far left lane, traveling the speed limit, but sped up to pass the blue van on my right and maneuver into the center lane to prepare for the exit. The van’s driver slowed slightly as a white coupe from the far right crossed into the center lane, cutting very close to the van’s front bumper. I didn’t see the white car and apparently he didn’t see me as he continued over into my lane, now mere inches from the right side of my car.

It all happened so quickly. Unable to react, all I could do was pray, “Jesus help me.” I knew I was going to be pushed into the grassy median strip where the car would roll over and hit a concrete abutment.

“Hold on and drive.” A firm voice commanded as another set of hands gripped mine on the steering wheel. I steered onto the left-hand berm of the road and hoped the other driver would return to the center lane, but he didn’t.

“Take your foot off the gas.” Again the strength of someone else caused me to act. Was it an angel or the Lord Himself? I didn’t know, but I knew I had been miraculously spared. I began to slow down as the other car moved ahead and kept on going, oblivious to the situation he almost caused.

All around me the other traffic slowed down, allowing me to ease over to the right lane and get off at my exit. Though badly shaken, I managed to drive the rest of the 30 miles home, crying and praising God for deliverance.

No, God didn’t perform a miracle and heal her from the disease which robber her of her memories and dignity, but He had miraculously delivered me.

I am so thankful for all the prayers of God's people surrounding me that day. He gave me a second chance to love and help my Mom on her journey through the darkness and confusion of Alzheimer’s.
If you'd like to join us today for In Other Words, simply blog about the quote on your blog site and then visit today's hostess, Christelle at her site, Beloved Mama to add your blog URL to the list of participants. Be sure to leave her a comment and visit some of the other participants' blogs to read their take on the quote as well!

Friday, February 22, 2008

It's a chocolate kind of day...

The weather outside is frightful - I've head the snow plow go up and down the road three times already since I woke up. Just the kind of day for a cup of hot chocolate.

Now what kind should I have? Hot Chocolate, French Chocolate, Mexican Chocolate, Spiced Chocolate...

As I was looking through Grammy's 1929 Modern Priscilla Cookbook, these wonderful hot cocoa recipes stood out. So here are a few suggestions for some old fashioned hot chocolate fun!

Hot Chocolate

2 squares of chocolate(unsweetened baking chocolate melted)
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups scalded milk

Melt chocolate and add water. Stir until smooth, add sugar, boil three minutes and add milk at once. Serve with whipped cream or marshmallows. Serves 4.

French Chocolate

1 quart milk
4 ounces chocolate
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon arrowroot

Put milk in double boiler, add chocolate broken in small pieces, then add sugar. Stir until chocolate is dissolved. When chocolate is hot, add arrowroot dissolved in a little water. Serve with whipped cream. Servings, 6.

Mexican Chocolate

1 pint milk
2 inch piece of stick cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoon ground coffee
1 ounce chocolate
1/4 cup boiling water

Scald milk with cinnamon and coffee. Strain through double cheesecloth and reheat. Add chocolate melted and mixed with boiling water. Cook two minutes. Beat well and serve with whipped cream. Servings, 3.

Spiced Chocolate Iced

1 pint milk
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon cocoa
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Scald milk and add to other ingredients well mixed. Cook five minutes. Cool, flavor with vanilla and chill. Add cold milk to suit taste. Servings, 3.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mission Organization


Today is a good day to brag on my DH (Dear Hubby).

He has been patient through the early part of this year as I recuperated from painful back problems. But there have been some positive things through it all. One thing is that I have watched a lot of home improvement and home organization programs through the day while I rested in the recliner. This has given me a lot of great ideas for dealing with the clutter that seems to pile up endlessly.

DH has even gotten into the spirit of things. Since it is too snowy outside to do much outdoor work and now that I am up and around more, we have been working together to organize my craft room/ writing office space.

About 12 years ago we purchased two heavy duty wooden closet organization kits. Each one contained 2 cube-type shelving units 12" deep x 12" wide x 40" tall iwth adjustable sehlves. The two fit together to make an 80" tall tower in the center of the closet. On each side, there were adjustable clothes hanging bars.

When we moved, our new closets already had nice wire shelving so I used the 4 units side by side to store my paper crafting supplies. They were getting wobbly and clulttered. I knew something had to be done - either throw them away and find some other storage sloution or BUILD something with them.

My DH took a few measurements and decided the units would make a great surround for my craft table. He put them together as towers again and fastened them to the wall on each side of my table. He has already put a shelf across the top of the two towers and plans to add at least two more between the units for extra storage.

Wow! What a great crafting space! Though it isn't finished yet - I need to paint it and add the new shelves, I coldn't wait to post a picture. Thank you DH!

Hmmm - do you think if I brag on him some more, he'll do a few more things on my Honey-Do list?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Heavenly Hugs and Kisses


They call me Bonnie the Bag Lady because I always carry a bag of "surprises" whenever I speak to a women's group. So read on to see what I pulled out of my bag Monday night for our women's meeting.

We all need to feel affirmed and loved which makes February a perfect month for "Heavenly Hugs and Kisses." To tempt the women's spiritual taste buds, I found a list of affirmations - "What God's Word says I am" and "What His Word says I have" designed to remind the women of God's love.

After typing out the list with a 14 point Times font, double spaced, I cut the affirmations into strips. Each strip was hot glued to a Hershey Kiss along with a small ribbon bow and then rolled into a spiral. An empty heart shaped box, decorated with ribbon flowers, lace and bows held the decorated kisses.

For the devotional time, I had each woman pick a kiss from the box. In turn, each one read the scriptural affirmation and gave a personal testimony of how God had loved and affirmed them.

What a great time of sharing we had as the ladies opened up and told stories about their lives. I reminded them that witnessing is just as easy as sharing their stories of how God has affirmed them. He has brought good things out of the difficult times in our lives, giving us the experience to minister to others, especially if we are able to see His hand of love and affirmation in those circumstances.

Here is the list of scriptures I used. I'm not sure who put this list together so if anyone recognizes it, please be sure to let me know so I can give proper credit!

What God says I am – I am!

I am a new creation, created in Christ Jesus. II Corinthians 5:17

I am the righteousness of God in Christ II Corinthians 5:21

I am healed by the stripes of Jesus I Peter 2:24

I am more than a conqueror through Him that loves me. Romans 8:37

I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Ephesians 6:10

I am rich through Jesus II Corinthians 8:9

I am complete in Him Colossians 2:10

I am His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. Ephesians 2:10

I am a daughter and heir of God Galatians 4:7

I am redeemed from the curse of the law Galatians 3:13

I am walking in the blessings of Abraham Galatians 3:14

I am like a tree planted by the rivers of water, I bring forth fruit in my season. My leaf shall not whither and whatsoever I do shall prosper. Psalm 1:3

I an as bold as a lion Proverbs 28:

I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ Romans 1:16

I am of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:3

I am strong in faith giving glory to God. Romans 4:21

I am a world overcomer I John 5:4,5

I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God Galatians 2:20

What God says I have – I have!

I have the faith of god residing in me, Matthew 11:20

I have boldness and access with confidence before God Ephesians 3:12

I have the peace of God that passes all understanding Philippians 4:7

I have redemption through the blood of Jesus Colossians 1:14

I have joy unspeakable and full of glory I Peter 1:8

I have God’s love I John 4:16

I have victory that overcomes the world I John 5:4

I have the mind of Christ Philippians 2:5

I have all my needs supplied according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus Philippians 4:19

I have godly wisdom and understanding Ephesians 1:17,18

I have been given the spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind – not the spirit of fear II Timothy 1:7

I have the right to come boldly before the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need Hebrews 4:16

I have Christ in me, the hope of glory Colossians 1:27

I have the tongue of the learned so that I should know how to speak a word to him that is weary. Isaiah 50:4

I have the joy of the Lord which is my strength Nehemiah 8:10

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

When Ruby Prayed...God Listened

This week's quote is:

"Momma prayed, momma cried, momma laid awake at night.
She would fight my battles while I slept away
Cause momma knew life is hard
without somebody on your side
I don't know how, but there is power in the way,
The way my momma prayed."

words and music by Jeremiah Olson of 40milesNorth

Her name was Ruby. I first met her at the altar as a teenager. I was a Christian, but struggling with life issues including abuse and desperately desiring to grow closer to the Lord. Ruby, a grandmotherly figure, came and knelt beside me, laying hands on my head and praying for me.

She had no children of her own, but she became my surrogate mother, my prayer warrior, mentor and spiritual advisor. She was always there for me if I needed to talk or if I needed a shoulder to cry on. And Ruby always had a verse for me from God's word to help me along. If anyone prayed for me in the way Jeremiah Olson sings about, it was Ruby.

My own parents were embarrassed by my faith and my father was terrified I would reveal the hush-hush episodes of childhood abuse. I had been labeled a fanatic by my friends' parents and was forbidden to hang out with my two best Christian friends. I suppose all the adults hoped we would be more like "normal" teens if they could separate us.

When I spoke of my dream to become a missionary, Mom and Dad ignored my comments and downplayed my desires. There was no money for me to go to college, they said, even though my grades were high and my counselors strongly recommended higher education.

But Ruby listened to me. She supported and encouraged me to trust God. She rejoiced with me when my heavenly Father opened the door for me to go to Bible College. She laughed out loud when introduced to my husband who had aspirations of becoming a minister.

Then the neatest thing happened - Ruby became a spiritual friend and mentor to my mom as well. Years after I left home and went into ministry, God used Ruby to pray for and befriend my mother Ruby fanned the spiritual coals smoldering in Mom's heart until they burst into flame.

I thank God for Ruby - though she had no children of her own, she had more spiritual children than most people I know. She prayed, cried and lay awake at night fighting battles while I slept because she knew life was hard. I thank God there was so much power in the way she prayed.

This week, Heather is hosting "In 'Other' Words" at her site, Titus 2 Woman. If you'd like to participate along with us, simply blog about the quote on your blog site, then skip on over to Heather's site and leave your blog URL. Check out her thoughts on the quote and visit the other participants as well!
I can't wait to see what everyone writes for this week's In "other" Words...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Global Prayer Warriors

Don't you just love it when God does something completely unexpected to encourage you and lift you up?

This last week left me feeling pretty discouraged. I know about spiritual warfare and realized that the things going on in my life and around me are situations which require fighting some heavy duty spiritual battles, but I felt wounded and small inside the armor, you know?

One of the things I struggle with is asking for help and prayer. Time after time I find myself slipping into that mode of being the pastor's wife and therefore I should be able to pray for myself and handle things on my own. But God never intended it to be that way. He has designed us to be relational beings - to bear each other up and to link our shields together during the spiritual battles.

After receiving some particularly distressing news on Saturday afternoon, I felt discouraged once again. However, just a few moments later, I received an e-mail from an acquaintance halfway around the world in India who dropped me a personal note letting me know he and his family were praying for me.

I immediately felt humbled as I sensed God's spirit there ministering to me. This person was a virtual stranger to me - I had received a few missionary type letters from him telling of his ministry and asking for prayer and support. Yet,as needy as he was, here he was affirming that God had seen my needs and was sending prayer reinforcements to bear me up!

Pretty neat, God!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Boiled Coffee and Brambles

"Mom, when you die, I want your cookbooks."

Cammie, my youngest daughter made that statement to me several years ago and I laughed, thinking it was a strange request. Now I understand her need to inherit my well-used stash of cookbooks. My recipe collection is a chronicle of my life journey. It contains recipes from all the areas of the country where I have lived, from my Mennonite/German heritage and from my ever-widening circle of friends.

I began collecting recipes after I was married, beginning with those from my mother-in-law who taught me how to make a hubby-pleasing assortment of foods, including homemade bread. As the children arrived and grew, they became my helpers. After all, when they were in the kitchen with me I KNEW where they were and what they were up to. Together we made many of the foods on the recipe cards I collected. My recipes became part of their heritage too.

Now I've added my mom and grandmom's recipes to my stash and I'm learning more about their lives. Two of my favorite cookbooks belonged to my grandmother. One is a 1925 pocket size paperback copy of the Watkins Cook Book. My grandmother maintained the Watkins brand of spices and health care products were "the best."

The second cookbook is a1929 hardcover edition of the Modern Priscilla Cookbook, sent out as a gift for those who subscribed to the magazine. What I like about this one is that Grammy used the blank pages at the end of the chapters to collect her own favorites, written in pencil.

These recipes really give insight to life in America in the early 20th century. Though I never tried it, I got a good chuckle out of the recipe for Boiled Coffee and wanted to share it here as quoted from the Modern Priscilla Cookbook p. 15:

Boiled Coffee

Boiling is probably the method of coffee making in commonest use. it is the most economical in coffee, but it produces the least delicacy of flavor and develops the largest amount of tannic acid. For it use coffee coarsely ground. Allow a level tablespoon of coffee for each cup to be served and one extra for the pot. An egg, if the budget allows it, is also called for. If a whole egg cannot be spared, shells of the eggs, used in routine cookery, carefully washed before breaking, will do nearly as well.

Mix the coffee well with the slightly beaten egg, or with the shells, and add one cup of cold water. Stir all together and let stand until the rest of the water is being heated. As soon as it comes to a jumping boil, pour it over the mixture in the coffee pot and let it boil not longer than three minutes.

Stuff the spout with paper toweling or a bit of immaculate cheesecloth while the boiling goes on, unless you have the sort of coffee-pot in which the closing of the spout is provided for in the pot itself.

The egg clears the coffee, but two tablespoons of cold water added just before the coffee goes to the table will complete the process.


Well, now that we've got our boiled coffee, how about we kick back and relax with some brambles (a sort of hand pie I think) to go with it?

Brambles (page 260)

1 cup raisins
1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup nuts
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons lemon juice

Chop fruit and nuts, add sugar, and lemon juice. Roll pastry thin and cut in squares. Put a tablespoon or more of the mixture on a square. Wet the edges and fold over to form a triangle. Prick holes with a fork in upper sides. Bake in a hot oven.

Time in oven, 20 minutes. Temperature 400 degrees. Servings, 10.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Chocolate covered strawberries?


Happy Valentine's Day!

I love chocolate! As a fondue with fresh fruit it's even better. But don't try to eat these beauties - they're made from polymer clay.

Several years ago when I worked in a garden/flower shop, my co worker wanted to make a Valentine display. A wrought iron garden table and chair graced the large showroom window, surrounded by spring plants and artificial arrangements. A lace tablecloth, candles and china tea cups completed the romantic display.

But not to be outdone, I molded these faux strawberries and coated them with "chocolate" for an added touch.

Polymer clay works great to create "food" accents for any kind of display. Chocolate chip cookies are easy - use a small ball of clay and roll it to 1/4 inch thickness. Add small chocolate chip shaped pieces of dark brown polymer clay for the chips.

These make a great project for the kids too. My grandkids love making gingerbread men. We rolled out a balls of gold polymer clay and used cookie cutters cut the shape. They decorated their creations with white polymer clay icing, red bow ties and black/brown raisins. By placing a small hole in the top of each "cookie" they were able to hang them on their tree or give them as gifts to friends and neighbors.

Playing with clay isn't just for kids anymore... Big kids like it too!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Snow Days

This is the view from our deck to the church. We have about 6 inches of snow with a crust of ice on top.

Play Ball? Not for another few months yet!

The wind has taken down lots of big branches
from our big oak trees in the front yard.

Picture This...

"It's Bo-ring!" I hear it all the time from my Children's Church and Wednesday evening kid's classes. So to prevent boredom, I'm constantly on the lookout for new ideas to incorporate int my teaching.

This week, my daughter, a homeschool mom, shared an idea she used with my grandkids to reinforce their reading. She taught them to play a "pictionary" type game with words and phrases they have learned. Apparently Jack and Eve had so much fun playing, they didn't even want to stop to watch TV or to go to bed.

Thanks, Lis! You got my creative juices flowing. Since we are learning the 10 commandments on Wednesday evenings, I purchased some dry erase markers and arranged to have a dry erase board in the classroom. Then I typed each commandment on a slip of paper (you can duplicate them if you have more than 10 children).

Each child chose a slip of paper when it was his turn and had to illustrate the commandment on the board without saying anything. The other children sat on the floor around the board and were able to guess which of the 10 commandments was being illustrated on the board.

Though we still have six weeks to go on our 10 commandment unit, , the game is a good way to familiarize the children with all of the commandments in preparation for each lesson. They love playing games and really enjoyed this week's lesson!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Passionate Pursuit

This week's quote is:

"Why do our days seem so unimportant, filled not with romance and adventure but with duties and demands? We feel unseen, even by those who are closest to us. We feel unsought--that no one has the passion or the courage to pursue us, to get past our messiness to find the woman deep inside. And we feel uncertain--uncertain what it even means to be a woman; uncertain what it truly means to be feminine; uncertain if we are or will ever be.......And in all the exhortations we have missed the most important thing of all. We have missed the heart of a woman."

Quote taken from: "Captivating" by John and Stasi Eldredge


My mother told me I would get out of life what I put in it.I was 12 at the time and stood there complaining about some "boring" meeting I had to attend.

Looking back, I believe it was the single most important thing I ever learned from her. When I went to my meeting, I chose to actually listen to what was being said and found it to be interesting, informative and ENJOYABLE!

As I read today's quote, I found myself reminiscing about how my mother's advice affected my life. You see, those days that seem unimportant; when I feel most invisible with nothing to look forward to but duties and demands - those are the days when I have failed to put my whole self into the day. They are the days when I have lost that sense of passion, my joy of living and relationship with my Creator, my sense of who I am in Him.

I am a complex creation with so many wants and needs. I need to feel whole, competent and needed by others. But when I mistake being needed with being loved - that's when I get into trouble every time. I choose to make myself indispensable so I can feel needed and end up burning out.

When I feel burned out, I feel empty, unloved and unlovable. But rather than letting Christ fill me with His love, I tend to try even harder, spinning faster and faster on my hamster wheel. I feel disgruntled and sorry for myself, sinking deeper into depression and aloneness.

Who would ever want to pursue or passionately love me like that? I feel frumpy and totally unfeminine. Somehow I have failed to see the real needs of that woman deep inside. I have missed my "woman's heart."

The truth is that every day I am being passionately pursued by a Living God who loved me enough to send His son to die for me. But if I wall up my heart with the bricks and mortar of self pity or lack of self esteem, I will miss Him. I will miss my chance at happiness because I have failed to look at the deepest needs of my heart. Only He can make me feel truly fulfilled and happy- but I have to choose to let Him!


This week, Christin is hosting "In 'Other' Words" at her site, As Gold Refined. She has chosen a quote from the book, Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge.

If you would like to join us today, simply blog about the quote on your site, then visit Christin and leave your blog URL so we can all read your thoughts on the quote. Be sure to check out as many of the participating bloggers as you can and leave them a comment too!

I can't wait to see what everyone writes for this week's In "other" Words...

Friday, February 8, 2008

1940's Applesauce Cale

While sorting through my mom's recipes, I found one she had received from my aunt in her own handwriting. It is for Applesauce Cake, a favorite my aunt used to make for family picnics on Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day. I know the recipe is at least 70 years old because it was written in pencil on the back of a calendar page from September 1940.

My Aunt Alice lived in the house where I grew up until 1946, when she and Uncle Edwin sold it to my parents. They purchased a home less than a mile away which had lots of room to plant Christmas trees. Their spacious front and back yard was perfect for family picnics with grilled hot dogs and burgers, potato salad , peppermint tea and of course, Aunt Alice's Applesauce cake with cream cheese frosting. the tree grove provided ample space for hide and seek and other childhood games with my cousins.

When I got married, she passed the recipe on to me along with a pink depression glass cake plate which I use whenever I serve this yummy cake. But it was a real treat to discover it written down in her handwriting. I will be scrapping this recipe for sure along with some old photos of family times for my grandchildren.

Aunt Alice's Applesauce Cake

1/2 cup Crisco
1 cup gran. sugar
1 cup seeded raisins
1 cup applesauce sweetened for table use
1 teaspoon soda
2 Tablespoons hot water
1 Egg
[You can add 2 Tablespoons citron]
2 cups flour
1 teas. cinnamon
1/2 teas. allspice
1/2 teas. nutmeg
1/2 teas. salt

Blend Crisco, sugar and egg. Add raisins and applesauce. Sift flour, salt and spices and add in several portions. Before the last flour is added, stir in the soda dissolved in the hot water. Beat well.

Pour into greased and floured tube pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes at 350 degrees or until done.

Cool on rack and remove from pan.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Crazy Quilt cards


There's just something about a quilt that speaks of comfort and warmth. Maybe that's why I love the quilted look for many of the cards I make. I am reminded of God's comforting, warm touch as I craft and it's fin to share that warm, comforting feeling with others as I send out the cards.

Using scraps and little leftover bits of paper, I love to make crazy quilt blocks. By adding a faux blanket stitch around the edge, it looks like a real fabric block.

This photo is a card created from an HGTV quilt block of the month design from several years ago called "Strolling the Block". Each month from January to December, they added a new pattern of a house done in this crazy quilt style.

I made all 12 blocks using paper rather than fabric and placed them together in a frame for my daughter. I have to make 3 more sets so my other daughter and daughter-in-law will have a "quilted" and framed picture for Christmas 2008. Since I always make these things for everyone else but myself, I decided I needed to do one too. I have a BIG blank wall in my living room that needs some art and this would be a great project, though a bit time consuming.

For my "quilt" I'd like to create original block designs, using pictures of the houses where my hubby and I have lived and the churches we pastored. By scanning actual photos and then tweaking them with my photo program, I can get a "coloring book" picture from which I can cut pattern pieces. Then I can choose different patterns, colors and weights of scrapbook paper and cut out the needed shapes.

I like to use my Xyron sticker maker to prep the pieces for attaching to the card stock - it's much less messy that way. I simply have to peel and stick the pieces in place.

I'm getting so excited about this project, I better quit blogging and get to work! When it's done, I'll be sure to post a picture of the finished project and maybe a few block patterns along the way!

For more on quilts and cards, visit me at the Quilts and Quills page of the new e-zine, 4Him2U. The January issue is online now and February will be out on or around February 17th. See you there!

Have a creative day!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Lemonade Mondays

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to do the right thing, everything turns out all wrong. Monday this week was like that for me. Now I know Mondays have a reputation for being the worst day of the week, but this one was worse than normal...

A friend of mine has a son who is in jail. The jail is about an hour and a half drive away so she doesn't get to go too often. But since it is near my daughter's home, I thought it would be fun to go together.

From the beginning, things seemed to go wrong. We had to go several miles out of the way to drop my friend's grandchildren off at a different babysitter because of a scheduling mix up.

When we got to the jail, things really started to unravel. The good news is that I didn't set off the alarm as I passed through the metal detector. But I did fail the drug scan - TWICE! Yes, I can just see your raised eyebrows. "The pastor's wife FAILED the drug scan?????"

I'm not sure how or where I came in contact with LSD, but it showed up both times.

"Oh it must have been your hand lotion," my friend said, trying to console me. She came up with all sorts of things that might set off the scanner, but I honestly didn't think it was any of those things. The only two possible things were the quarters I had put in my pocket for use in the jail vending machines or the Bio Freeze I used on my hip to keep it from aching on the hour and a half drive.(I wonder what they put in that stuff????)

Though it was disappointing that I couldn't visit my friend's son (and my pride was injured at the treatment I received at the jail), at least I could still see my daughter. After a short lunch break and a lot of good-natured ribbing, I returned her to work and was on my own for about 2 hours. Shopping is hard since I can't be on my feet too long without pain from my recent back problems, but I survived by wandering in my favorite craft stores.

I reconnected with my friend after about 2 hours and started home, making three stops during the hour and a half trip. Since she was diabetic and had not eaten yet , we stopped so she could grab a bite. About halfway home, she wanted to stop at a house that had a sign in the yard selling Noni juice so we could pick up some info for my mother-in-law.She thought the Tahitian "wonder" juice could help improve my MIL's poor health.

The worst part of the trip occurred a few miles after the fruit juice stop. I almost had a accident as a puppy darted in front of the car. I couldn't swerve because of oncoming traffic. My stomach lurched with the sickening thud. We were all right but the poor puppy wasn't. We found the owner and did what we could for him, but the day had turned pretty sour.

Yes, it was a lemon of a day all right, complete with lip-puckering events that can leave a sour after taste in the soul. But by adding the sweetness of His Spirit through praise and a liberal amount of friendship and love, Christ can transform any sour day into a lemonade Monday worth remembering.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Being patient through the pain

Hi! Welcome to "In Other Words" for Tuesday, February 5th! Being patient with God is never easy so I chose this quote by Elisabeth Elliot. Enjoy!

"He [God] is very patient with us when we are trying to be patient with Him."

~ Elisabeth Elliott ~

One of the hardest things I ever had to do was to transport my two year old daughter to the hospital when she broke her arm. She had been playing with her sister and brother at the neighbor’s house and fallen eight feet through the stairway railing to the uncarpetted hallway floor below. My neighbor assessed her injury, then scooped her up and ran the few yards down the street to hand her to me.

It was obvious from the peculiar angle of her arm and the blood under the surface of the skin that it was broken and would need immediate attention. Fortunately, my husband was home at the time. He opened the car door and I gently eased myself inside, holding her to me to keep the arm immobilized.

She hurt so much, she was screaming and writhing with pain. Tears coursed down my cheeks. My heart wanted to scream too, but I had to remain patient and calm and murmur comfort to her through the twenty minute ride to the hospital emergency room.

Once there, I continued to hold her as the nurses took our information and prepared to x-ray her arm. “Can’t you give her something for the pain?” I pleaded but they just shook their heads.and told me to be patient.

An hour later (at least it seemed to be an hour!) they finally had the x-rays complete and began prepping my little one for surgery to set her arm. Then they were finally able to give her something to relax her and ease her pain. I had been holding her all this time to keep her as immobile and calm as possible. My arms ached as much as my heart for her.

Once she relaxed with the pre-surgery medications, I was finally able to lay her down on the gurney and weep as they wheeled her into the operating room. Because of the complexity of the break, she remained in the hospital for three days while I remained close by.

It was extremely difficult to remain patient as she thrashed about in pain during the ride to the ER and while waiting for everything to be ready for her surgery. It was hard to remain patient after the surgery while we waited to see if the bones would knit together properly. But I had to - for my daughter’s sake as well as for my own.

God reminded me of the lessons in patience many years later when I was going through difficult emotional issues. I writhed and cried out in pain, wanting my Abba to stop the pain. But He didn’t. He held me, whispering words of comfort, love and strength as He carried me through those times in His strong arms.

He was patient with me in my pain, just like I had to be patient with my daughter through her pain, until all things were set in motion for His healing plan. If He had simply removed my pain, there would have been no lasting changes in the way I related to people, no real healing, only a bandaid solution. So He held me close and let me know I was worth the time, energy and love He was investing into this healing process for me. Because of His closeness, I learned to trust my Abba in spite of the pain.

If you'd like to join us today, simply blog about the quote on your blog site and then leave your URL below so others can read your take on the quote. Be sure to check out the other participants' blogs and leave a comment too!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Adventures of Philipsburg Phil


This blog is dedicated to my grandchildren in Florida who have eternal spring and summer...

In a small town in central PA, lives a second generation groundhog Beanie Baby named Punxatawn-e Phil, named after the original furry prognosticator, Punxatawney Phil.

My Phil was born in 2002 and came to live with me in Indiana, PA, about 40 miles from Punxatawney. When I moved to Maryland a year later, Phil decided to come along because he had never been south of the Mason-Dixon line. He often whispered to me that the weather in Maryland was worse than PA since we were in the mountains and got far more snow.

Phil was tickled pink when we moved back to Philipsburg,PA last summer, only 60 miles away from his cousin in Punxatawney and he hoped he could at last go and meet his famous cousin. "I don't think so," I said. "There's too many people - you wouldn't even be able to get close to him. Besides, we'd have to get up way too early."

"I want to be a season predictor, just like my cousin even if we can't go and meet him.," he told me on Friday, February 1.Right then and there he changed his name to Philipsburg Phil so no one would get confused.

"Are you sure about that?" I asked. "Punxatawney Phil is awakened from hibernation and pulled from his burrow early in the morning each year on February 2 to see if it's time for spring or if there will be six more weeks of winter weather."

"Oh yes, I'm sure," Phillipsburg Phil nodded his head eagerly with an excited gleam in his eyes.

Well, I didn't even have to wake him up or pull him out of his warm shoebox burrow. As a matter of fact, I felt his furry little hands on my cheeks early on February 2, patting me and pinching my nose to wake me up.

I quickly got dressed and took him outside, wondering what his prediction would be. "I don't think you will see your shadow today, little Phil," I said. "It's gray and cloudy out here."

I helped him sit on the rail of our deck and took his picture. As the camera flashed, Philipsburg Phil squealed, "I saw it! I saw my shadow! There will be six more weeks of winter!"

By this time he was dancing all over the rail. Since it was icy, I was afraid he might slide right off, so I caught him and gave him a gentle squeeze. "I guess you really did see your shadow, after all.You are just like your cousin. He saw his shadow too."

I didn't have the heart to tell him that here in central PA, it would tale six more weeks for the crocus and daffodils to wake up no matter what either Phil said. I was just happy to let him come inside out of the icy cold weather and help me start my seeds for the spring planting in April.

Happy Groundhog Day, Philipsburg Phil!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Scrapping the Family Cookbook

My favorite cookbook is a white three-ring binder where I keep my family recipes. The "Winters Family Favorites" tradition started several years ago as a holiday gift for my daughters and a few other relatives. Christmas was pretty "lean" that year, but the cookbooks were a huge success.

I collected recipes that my family enjoyed along with clip art and a short history of the recipe: why it was special to our family and where it came from; things like that. I printed out a pages of the recipes for each book and placed them in plastic sleeves inside the notebooks.

A few years ago, when we sold my parent's home, I found my mother's stash of recipes, written out longhand on scraps of paper from her job, stuffed in between pages of her cookbooks and in various other corners of her book case. Some were in her handwriting and others were written with a stubby pencil by my grandmother.She also had loads of antique cookbooks - the kind that came with appliances or those thin ones offered by companies to promote their products. My daughters and I love to pour over them and find hidden treasures to tempt the taste buds.

Over the next few months, I hope to try some of these recipes and include them in our family cookbook along with mom and grand mom memories for my own granddaughters. I also thought it would be fun to share some of them with all my online friends too. So every Friday, I'll post a new (old) recipe with some tall tales and perhaps a bit of mom sense...


Dill Pickle Dip

This is a great recipe for your Superbowl spread! I'm not sure where it came from , but it's at least been around for 45 years. My mom loved family gatherings and often made up a batch of this dip for chips, though it works great for veggies too. She never wrote the ingredients down, so be sure you add them a little at a time to taste. It will get "dillier" as it chills.

Oh, by the way - this is great on baked potatoes too!

1 large or 3-4 small whole dill pickles minced
2 Tbsp. dill pickle juice
1 pint sour cream
1 tsp. dill salt
2 tsp. dill weed
1 small clove minced garlic or 1/8 tsp of garlic powder

Mix all ingredients together and chill for one hour before serving.