Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Like most of you, I am having fun playing with my new Christmas gifts. Hubby got me this lovely set of Jane Austen books, they are really beautifully done. I'm learning to use my new GPS which is an absolute life-saver since I could get lost in my bathtub! So far I have only used it to go places I already know how to get to, and it is so much fun to 'mess with it's head' and deliberately turn the wrong way, etc. to see what it will do. It always recovers and redirects admirably, so it is going to be great when I really need it. Especially to get back home again! I seem to be able to find my way places, only to be unable to find my way back home again, which can be most distressing. I got one of those really cool Kitchen Aid immersion blenders, too, and I can't wait to use it. Smoothies and soup, for sure, with recipes out of my brand new "Cook's Country" cookbook!

We have had an extremely good year in 2008, so this is a fond farewell to the year. We aren't going to have a New Year's Eve party, opting for a New Year's Day party instead. I don't always do New Year's resolutions, although I did when I was young, and my mom kept some of the more hilarious ones to blackmail me with! But this year I have several that I am extremely resolved about. I haven't really written them down, and don't intend to share them in any great detail, at least not in advance - that is such a jinx! But I have considered making a needlepoint that says "Write - Exercise - Garden" as a reminder. Of course, I don't do needlepoint and learning is not on my resolution list, so I will have to just do these things regularly until they become indispensable habits. I have enjoyed the modest publishing success I've achieved so far, and I'm hungry for more! So writing, and submitting, needs to become more of a priority. I want to be healthy, and exercise gets me there, so that's non-negotiable. And I would like to have my whole yard transformed, slowly and steadily, into a garden with paths and resting spots, and that will take a lot of hard work. So I am actually looking forward to this new year, full of promise and potential accomplishments. One last party, and then I will get back in to a routine, including a blogging routine. I have awards to accept, and loose ends to tie up, and I'm sure I'll have new experiences to share; not to mention reading all of your blogs! Happy 2009 to all of you friends I've made in this past year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Beloved!

Today I'm looking back on 30 years of marriage! Happy Anniversary to the man who swept me off my feet - as much as I loved you then, I love you even more now. It just keeps getting better!
Here's to the next 30 years!
(Hubby's 50th birthday was Friday, the day after Christmas. And, this is my 100th post!)

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Gift Has Already Been Given

Christmas a little hectic this year?

Take a deep, prayerful breath and a moment to remember what it's all about...
A Blessed and Merry Christmas to you!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hymns of Special Meaning

Ruth asked me to post five hymns that have meant something significant in my life, and I really tried to follow the rules. I went through the hymn book and I was strict with myself. "Only the really important ones," I told myself firmly. I ended up with a list of 43. This wasn't going to be easy! Back to the drawing board. I thought hard about what was really important to me, why hymns touch me so much.

I realized that for me, it is all about a relationship with the Triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). There is a song called "Happiness Is the Lord" that has the line, "Real joy is mine, no matter if teardrops start, I've found the secret, it's Jesus in my heart," that kind of sums up my religious philosophy. I know a lot of people are Christians because they want to go to heaven some day, but I gotta tell you, even if we just lived and died here with no hope of anything after that, I would still be a Christian. When I was a child, I discovered that Jesus loves me and and I made a choice to put my hand in His. My life hasn't always been easy, far from it at times; but it HAS always been joyful! I believe what God says in His Word, because Jesus is the Word, and I trust Him completely; plus He sent the Comforter to help me understand it.

Hymns have always helped me remember the gospel, exhorted me to live it, given me a way to praise Him, comforted me when I was scared, and given me HOPE! I have narrowed it down to 12 choices, and I'm afraid that's the best I can do! I will not attempt to put the words to the hymns here, but I have linked to the lyrics.

"Jesus Loves Me" was the first song I learned as a tiny Christian. It gave me the gospel in a nutshell, and taught me to trust Jesus and believe the Bible.

I learned "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" first at church, then to a different tune at church camp. It was very comforting to know I had a Friend I could depend on, that was always there for me even when others had let me down badly.

"Trust and Obey"and "Count Your Blessings" are songs that taught me how to live as a Christian, and shaped my reaction to things that happened in my life. The only thing that puzzled me is the part in "Trust and Obey" where it says "I will walk by His side in the way." I always wondered if I shouldn't get out of the way!

My mother called "Heaven Came Down and Glory Filled My Soul" my song. She'd play it for me on the piano, my sister would sing harmony, and it is the one song I would belt out confidently!

"He Lives" resonates with me because my heart is so full of the love and presence of Jesus in my life and heart. He is a very real Person to me, Friend and Savior.

"Love Lifted Me" is all about salvation, and though I felt the presence of God from a very young age, I still made a conscious choice to accept Him in to my heart. I was very aware of how lost I was without Him, and trusted Him completely to save me.

Once I was saved, I loved the praise songs, such as "Praise Him! Praise Him!" and "He Keeps Me Singing." Great is His Name and Greatly to be praised!

We had an amazing piano player in our church, a lady by the name of Alice Mayhew. A beautiful, godly woman, and a professional piano player that could make you feel like you were already in heaven! I loved when she played "Wonderful Grace of Jesus," and then everyone would begin singing, and it was so rolling and majestic, the men and women singing different parts that gave it a richness that made me feel like my heart was going to come out of my chest and float up to heaven on its own!

"It Is Well With My Soul" is a beautiful song that always makes me cry, and that's before I had even heard the story behind it! It is a sad, beautiful, soul-stirring story of the trust a bereaved father had in his Lord and Savior even after his children had been drowned while coming by ship to join him. The story is here.

"Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee," besides being stunningly beautiful all on its own, also has a great deal of meaning to me, because this is one of the early songs my youngest son learned to play on the piano, and it's one we share a fondness for.

You can click on the names of the hymns to go to a page with lyrics and/or tunes. I pray God has richly blessed the writers of the hymns that give testimony, admonition, guidance, hope and praise to His Holy Name! They have been a rich source of blessings, teachings and strength to me in my Christian walk. And now I hope they will be a blessing to you!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Goodies and Recipes

I got fooling around with my banana bread recipe and created something great, just in time for Christmas! Following is the recipe for Banana Nut Craisin Bread. Rich and moist and flavorful, I think you're gonna love it. And it goes really well with a glass of eggnogg!

Banana Nut Craisin Bread

3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1+1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons milk
2 Tablespoons eggnog
4 ripe, mashed bananas
1 cup chopped mixed nuts
2 cups Craisins

Heat oven to 350 degrees
Mix first 4 ingredients in small bowl. Cream sugar with butter until light and stir in eggs. Beat in bananas, milk and eggnog. Beat flour mixture into banana mixture thoroughly; stir in nuts and craisins.
Divide evenly between 2 greased loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour, cool and slice.

Speaking of great Christmas recipes, the fabulous Christy of The Daily Dish held a recipe contest and my Grandma's Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Fudge made the cut. Grandma made it for family, friends, and to sell at all the community events in Madison, Indiana. And I won some Lindt chocolates, too, how cool is that! Christy is posting a recipe a day from now 'til Christmas Eve. There will be lots of great things, and it's possible another of mine might appear, too. As an added bonus, Christy reduces the sodium in her recipes, but leaves the "delicious!" This is helpful to so many, many people who can't have sodium (like me!), and she does this site out of the goodness of her heart. But that doesn't mean there are no expenses, so if you can, out of the goodness of YOUR heart, consider leaving a donation to help with her costs.

(Here's a pic of my Grandma selling her fudge.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Chain Reaction

(Now when everyone is worried about the economy, politics and gas prices, it might help to remember that we've been here before, so to speak. When I was a teen in the 1970s, we had gas rationing, which caused the following now humorous day. The photo is my sis and me in 1976. I'm the brunette on the left in the coral dress, she's blond, in the flowered dress).

As the Dean of Students read the excuse my mother had carefully and thoroughly written out, she began to laugh. The more she read, the harder she laughed. “Please excuse my daughters from school yesterday,” it began…
“Don’t ride the bus tomorrow,” our friend Cheryl told my sister and me. “I’ll give you a ride to school.” This was fine with us! So the next morning we waited for Cheryl to show up. And waited. And waited. Suddenly she showed up at our door, and we thought we were in business. But when she came in, we realized she had walked…and she did not look happy!
“Where have you been? Where is your car? What’s going on?” we quizzed her as she caught her breath.
“My car won’t start. I tried to call you, but you never answered.”
“Our phone never rang,” my sister explained as Mom went and picked it up. Sure enough, it was out of order.
“What are we going to do?” wailed my sister. “The bus will be gone by now!”
“Come on, girls, I’ll take you,” Mom offered, and since we were in a hurry, she didn’t even bother to dress. We didn’t get out of the driveway, however, before she realized we were running extremely low on gas. “Oh, great!” she exclaimed. “Oh, well, at least it’s our day. We’ll just have to get gas on the way.”
This was the mid-70’s and an energy crisis was in full tilt. President Carter had declared energy saving measures, such as turning off the lights in rooms you weren’t using, and gas rationing. You could only get gas on certain days of the week, and luckily it was our turn. So Mom pulled into the first gas station she came to. It was full-service, which for the younger among you means employees of the gas station actually came out and pumped our gas for us, so we would be spared the spectacle of Mom pumping gas in her curlers and pink bathrobe. Unfortunately, we had all forgotten one tiny but crucial detail. Because of the rationing, people were siphoning gas out of other people’s cars, so my step-dad had installed a brand new lock on the gas tank. One for which he had the key, at home on his keychain.
“Well, we simply do not have enough gas to get you girls to school!” Mom concluded. “You’ll just have to try again tomorrow.”
And home we went, where Mom wrote the note the Dean decided to frame and hang on her wall.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Good Tidings of Great Joy!

And behold, an Angel of the Lord stood near them, and the brightness of God shone around them, and they were struck with a great fear. And the Angel said to them: "Do not be afraid. For, behold, I proclaim to you a great joy, which will be for all the people. For today a Saviour has been born for you in the city of David: he is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the celestial army, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will." (Luke)

A Blessed Christmas to all of you! (The angels were made by our sons many years ago, and I still put them out every year.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Customized Scattergories

Sparky tagged me (and everyone else who reads her blog!) with a list of questions I'm supposed to answer. I took some out and added some in, so mine is a little different from hers. Go to her site to see the original, and if you want to play, you can use hers, mine, or make up your own! Here goes!

Who do you look the most like in your family? I don't look at all like anyone in my family, although there is apparently a distant cousin I've never met that I favor.

Do you like your handwriting? Uh, no, it's horrible. If I hadn't learned to type, few people would be able to read what I write.

Do you prefer pants or skirts? Skirts almost exclusively.

Smooth jazz or rock? Smooth jazz

Do you have kids? Yes, 3 amazing sons here and one in heaven

What is your favorite lunchmeat? Turkey, but I also like "roast beast"

If you were someone else would you be friends with you? I think I would, I'm pretty friendly. I KNOW I'd be friends with my kids if we'd been kids together

Are you sarcastic? I can be when I'm trying to be funny

Are you good at telling jokes? No, I'm the worst, I usually end up telling the punch line first by mistake and then I get all confused

Do you cry easily? Didn't used to, but the older I get the more tender I get

Do you have your tonsils? Yep, that is one of the few things left, lol

Would you bungee jump? Oh, yeah, and sky dive and hot air balloon and parasail and... but my hubby has made me promise to wait until he's gone, so I'll be one of those 90 year old daredevils!

Who has been your favorite President in your lifetime? President Reagan

What is your favorite ice cream? Ben and Jerry's New York Super-Fudge Chunk. That, or plain vanilla from Publix

What's the first thing you notice about people? Their eyes and smile

What is the last movie you went to the theatre to see? Madagascar II just a few days ago (IMAX!)

What book are you currently reading? "What Matters Most" by Luanne Rice

Who do you miss the most? Our 3rd son

Shoes or barefoot? barefoot

What color do you prefer, red or blue? RED

Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? My mother

What was the last thing you ate? Pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting, yummy!

What is your least favorite feature? My eyes

What do you listen to? Oh, my, it depends on what I'm doing. Relaxing with my hubby, "Romance in Rio" or Chris Botti's "A Thousand Kisses Deep"; working is College Fight Songs, cooking is Big Band or fiddle and banjo, cooking for special occasions, Charlotte Church, doing dishes, hymns... to relax I like techno and when I'm playing board games with my son, we listen to Christian Contemporary. There's a music for every mood!

Favorite scents? Lilac, cinnamon, vanilla, Brut

Hair color? Eye color? Brown

Favorite sports to watch? Hockey, baseball, rodeo - or soccer and tennis if my sons are playing!

Scary movies or happy endings? Happy endings!

Movies that make you laugh or movies that make you think? BOTH

Who is your newest favorite singer? Michael Buble, esp. "Sway" and "Everything"

Do you have a special talent? I am amazingly good at diagnosing people's illnesses and ailments
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