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Monday, November 30, 2009

I can clearly see… {Mama Braggin’ Monday}

Last week Nathan had another one of his awful headaches that causes him to be sick to his stomach. Poor thing. They’re almost migraine in nature.

Mike’s mom has mentioned on more than one occasion that his sister would get headaches when she was younger and it was due to focusing issues in her eyes. So, last week when Nathan said to his dad in between the times he threw up, “I watched too much TV at Nanny’s house and it made me sick,” we decided it was time to get his eyes checked out.

I called to make the appointment with our eye doctor knowing that I needed to get Sarah in for a check-up as well. So Mike took both of them this afternoon.

The outcome of that appointment was nothing like what I expected.

In short: Nathan’s eyes are perfectly fine. And Sarah is now wearing contacts.

Yes, you read that right. Contacts at 8 years old.

It boils down to the fact that her vision is degrading so rapidly that we are hoping that the contact lens on her eye will help the eye to hold its shape and keep it from deteriorating so quickly. She’s only been in glasses for about 1 1/2 years and her uncorrected vision is already at 20/200.

Yikes.

Yeah, she’s got her daddy’s eyes.

(See the post from April, 2008 when she got her glasses here.)

They tried to help her put the contacts in at the office but couldn’t get it to work. The poor child just has eye lashes galore to get in the way, apparently. So Mike brought her home and eventually he just put them on her eyes.

She immediately noticed a big difference. Not only did they bump up the prescription again which allowed her to see leaves and not just colored clumps on the trees, but it made a big difference for it to be clear around the edges as well.

She hasn’t stopped bouncing off the walls about it yet.

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So here’s to the next 10-15 years of contacts for my girl until she’s old enough and can afford the next new development in eye surgery.

Just like her daddy.

Oh, and if you take your 4 year old to the eye doctor, you may discover that they have their own way of describing how they see the letters on the charts.

They might say a letter is clear or that it is soggy.

Just so you know.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Popcorn Cake – My family’s tradition {Flavor of the Month}

Never heard of it?

Well, I must say I’m not surprised.  My man had never heard of Popcorn Cake before being indoctrinated at his first holiday event with my family.  While he thought it a little weird at the time, he admitted to me this evening that it has grown on him and he really likes it now.

I very literally cannot think of a holiday season in my family where Popcorn Cake has not been involved to a great extent.  It is a mainstay in my family that has been passed down from my dad’s mom (Nana P) to my mom and now down to my sisters and I and our kids. 

100_6794 It is similar to a popcorn ball, but in cake form and better.  It’s not quite so hard and difficult to eat.  It’s a little expensive to make with all the candies, peanuts and popcorn, but SO worth it. 

And just look how cute and festive it can be by just using holiday specific M&M’s.

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Its sticky, chocolaty, crunchy and gooey all at the same time goodness is something that will forever evoke memories of time with family.  Be it at my Nana P’s or my mom’s house.  It will always remind me of my Dad and his expectation that there is one in the house at all times.  It will remind me of Christmas and a myriad of other holidays that were not complete without this dear friend of a dish around.

So now I share with you the recipe.  More detailed step-by-step photos can be found on my recipe blog here.

Popcorn Cake

1 pound M&M’s candies *
1 pound dry roasted peanuts
1 gallon popped popcorn (approximately 2 microwave bags) **
1 pound marshmallows
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup margarine ***

* Holiday specific M&M’s make this a special treat for any holiday.
** Get as close to no butter popcorn as you can.
*** I rarely use margarine any more. However, my mom tried butter while living overseas where she couldn’t get margarine and it didn’t work so well.

Pop popcorn and allow to cool. You may want to shake out the popcorn in a bowl to get all the un-popped seeds out.

In a very large bowl, place M&M’s, peanuts and popcorn in that order with M&M’s on bottom, peanuts on top of the M&M’s and popcorn on top of that.

In saucepan over medium heat, begin melting margarine and add oil and stir. Add in marshmallows and begin stirring while allowing the marshmallows to melt. Stir constantly with a heat-proof spatula/spoonula. Allow to boil until approximately 230ºF. The mixture will be translucent when coating the thermometer or against the bottom of the pan when you tilt it to the side.

You can do all of the above in the microwave. Just be very careful about the marshmallows expanding and overflowing your bowl.  Not that I know from personal experience or anything.

100_6765 Reason # 1,253 I dislike using the microwave for cooking.  I’ll take a cook top and saucepan any day of the week thankyouverymuch.

Once the marshmallow mixture is finished cooking, pour it over the popcorn. With two wooden spoons, mix the hot marshmallow mixture into the popcorn and gradually incorporate the peanuts and M&M’s at the bottom of the bowl as the mixture cools a bit. Mix until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. (Or until at least mostly evenly distributed.)

Lightly spray angel food cake pan (or Bundt) and hands with cooking spray. Using hands, press the popcorn mixture down into the pan. This recipe will completely fill an angel food cake pan and fill a Bundt pan with a little left over. Allow the pressed cake to cool in the pan for a while (maybe 30 minutes to an hour) until the cake has set and firmed up.

Turn cake out on platter or cake taker that can be covered. You may have to lightly squeeze the pan to release it or you may use a hair-dryer on the outside of the pan to warm and release it. Continue to allow the cake to sit out and set up in open air at room temperature for another hour or so.

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Use a sharp bread knife to slice the cake and eat it with your fingers. And eat some more… and some more… you get the idea.

Here’s to the next generation of Popcorn Cake lovers.

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Enjoy!

And join us over at Bake at 350 for more family tradition dishes for this month’s installment of Flavor of the Month.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving y'all.

And...

Gig'em Aggies!

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Best Friend {Mama Braggin' Monday}

I love these kinds of conversations with my kids. Especially at four years old.

Son: "Mom, you know who my best friend is?"

Mom: "Who's that?"

Son: "Jesus."

Mom: "Yes, son. He really is."

Son: "And He's Sarah's best friend. And your best friend. And Daddy's best friend."

Yes, son. HE IS!

Dear friend in blog world, is Jesus your best friend?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Everything Cookies & Brownies {Cookbook Review}

EverythingCookiesBrowniesCookbook

When my friend, Marye, asked me to review her cookbook I was thrilled to do so.  I got it in the mail and couldn’t wait to get out the flour and my trusty KitchenAid stand mixer and try out a few recipes.

But first, a little background on the author.  I met Marye through Twitter (@maryeaudet) this past spring.  She is a wonderful resource for bouncing food and flavor ideas around with (and I might add an incredible source of Christian encouragement).  She has eight kids in a wide range of ages and lives in an old restored farmhouse in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  She does a lot of food writing and blogs at Baking Delights on a regular basis as well as other places as listed on her home page.

The impression I get from this book is that her whole approach comes from her own experience as a mom.  In other words, ladies, this is a practical cookbook written by a mom as a wonderful resource for moms. 

“Don’t wait for a rainy day to make some cookies.  Choose a recipe, gather your family together, and enjoy some quality time while creating a mouth-watering snack.”

The cookbook starts off with a chapter of “Cookie Baking Basics” which includes a lot of handy tips (i.e. substituting non-caloric sweeteners, what to do when using a glass pan instead of metal and cookie storage tips) and interesting facts as well.  For instance, did you know that “the very first decorated cookies in history are thought to be from Switzerland”? 

“Knowing how to store and ship cookies makes it easy to send a quick gift or have a cozy snack whenever you want.  Keep the cookie jar full and the family happy by using your freezer to your advantage.”

The remaining chapters (2-16) break down all of the 300 (yes, I said 300) cookie and bar recipes into genres to make them a little easier to find.  Just to give you an idea, some of the chapter titles are All Kinds of Chips, Easy Drop Cookies, Brownies and Bars, No-Bake Cookies, and Kids Can Bake!  There is even an entire chapter dedicated to Cookies for Special Needs (such gluten free and egg/dairy free) which is a great resource for that treat you have to fix for your child’s class when there is that one child with an egg allergy. 

“Storing Gluten-free Treats:  Cookies that are baked without gluten do not have the same storage times as regular cookies.  In fact, gluten-free items are at their best still warm from the oven.  Plan to eat the cookies immediately, or place in the freezer for longer storage.  Warm the cookies a few minutes in the oven and they will taste as fresh as if they were just baked.”

Overall it is a comprehensive resource for cookies and brownies.  I mean, I was amazed and honestly, a little overwhelmed at how this book almost literally takes you through cookies from A to Z.  It is a nice mix of standard recipes that you would recognize, new twists on old standards and new/different things you may have never heard of.  Everything from the most common Chocolate Chip Cookie that’s good comfort food on a rainy afternoon to the specialty Rose  Crackle Cookie that would be the perfect addition to any tea or bridal shower. 

Recipes are laid out to be simple  and concise.  There’s not a lot of fluff.  They are clear and to the point.  It’s pretty no-frills and does not have pictures with the recipes, but just gets right to the point.  Each recipe also includes tips and usually ingredient substitution/ addition/subtraction ideas.  The book is paperback and lies open nicely on your countertop to easily refer back to the recipe as you cook.

In general the ingredient lists are fairly common, but there are some very unique recipe names that would call for some specialty ingredients.  For example you would need loose leave Chai Tea Blend for the Russian Chai Tea Cakes, and you would need mascarpone cheese for the Tiramisu Brownies.  But I think if you were making some of those more specialty recipes, you’d be ready to get those special ingredients. 

Now, I’d like to show you some of my results from the Everything Cookies & Brownies cookbook.

First up, Pecan Pie Bars. 

Now, if you have read this blog for any length of time, you know that I am not a big nut fan.  However, my daddy is.  And now that my daddy is back in these United States, I am excited to get to cook for him again.  So, I made these Pecan Pie Bars for him.  I also figured that with his experience with pecan pie, that he would be a good judge of how they turned out. 

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From what I could tell, I thought they turned out gorgeous.  And easy… Oh WOW!  Just see for yourself.  Marye has granted me permission to give you this recipe.

Pecan Pie Bars
(yields 36 bars)

Ingredients:

Crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (cool room temperature)

Topping:
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
4 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups chopped pecans

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line 10” x 15” jelly roll pan with parchment, allowing it to overhand sides and ends slightly.

2.  Stir together flour, 1/2 cup sugar and salt.  Cut in 1 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Press firmly into the pan.

100_65313.  Bake 20 minutes

4.  Mix together corn syrup, eggs, remaining sugars, melted butter and vanilla; whisk until smooth.  Stir in pecans.  Pour over hot crust.

5.  Bake 25 minutes, or until set.  Cool completely before cutting into bars.

**You can sprinkle 1 cup of chocolate chips over the crust before pouring on the topping for a chocolaty variation.**

Do you see how easy that is???

This is one of those recipes that you can make it once and from then on just be able to look at the ingredient list and go without looking at the directions hardly ever again.  There is nothing better, in my opinion, than a completely from scratch, homemade recipe that you can almost do in your sleep it’s so easy.  And this is one of those. 100_6535

And my daddy?  He tried one and immediately hid them from anyone’s sight.  So, I’d say he liked them pretty well.  And they are more portable than regular pecan pie so he took them out to the deer lease with him the following week where, from what I gather, they were a big hit as well.

I have also made the Chocolate Toffee Cookies.  Now, these are a little more involved as they require some refrigeration.  And certainly these are cookies you make for a little bit of a special occasion when you’re willing to spend a little on ingredients.  But oh, heavens.  SO worth the 1 pound (uh-huh… 1 POUND) of bittersweet chocolate.  They are like a rich brownie in cookie form with little pockets of toffee.  Also known as “heaven in edible form.”

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Overall I am impressed with the Everything Cookies & Brownies cookbook.  From the easy to read recipes to all the tips sprinkled throughout the entire book about everything from ingredients to methods.  It’s a comprehensive guide to cookies and I believe it would be well used in your kitchen.  I know it will be in mine.

Everything Cookies & Brownies can be purchased through Amazon.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Linky Dinks – Aggie Bonfire Edition

Before I moved on to posting on happier or good tasting things again, I wanted to just pause and do a little round up of sorts of blog posts that I read yesterday as people remembered the 12 Fallen Aggies from the Bonfire collapse 10 years ago.

People who were there that day:

Amanda at Baby Bangs posted Remembering Bonfire

Denise at Musician’s Window posted Remembering Aggie Bonfire, 10 Years Later

Rachelizabeth at The Science of Music posted Bonfire. 10 Years Later

Personal accounts from the Bonfire Remembrance Program on November 17th, 2009 and Candlelight Vigil held at the Bonfire Memorial site at 2:42 am on November 18th, 2009:

Aggie photojournalist for the Statesman, Jay Janner took these photos.

Doug Klembara posted The Aggie Bonfire – Remembered

Someone posted on TexAgs.com a short recap form the candlelight vigil.

The Modernish Father posted these moving pictures from Wednesday morning.

From news sources:

In the BCS Eagle, the story of an Aggie who left his Aggie Ring at the site that day.

The Battalion’s (Texas A&M University newspaper) Aggie Bonfire Edition

Sue at Aggie Journalists did a post linking to many of the news articles and special editions covering the 10 year anniversary: Aggie journalists record, reflect on Bonfire anniversary.

The Dallas Morning news has a list of articles here and this one got my proverbial panties in a wad because of our Governor and former Yell Leader’s meddling.

There were tons of articles in local papers all over that I simply don’t have time to link to and I am sure you could have Google find them for you if you wanted to read all of them.

I leave you today with one quote that I loved from all my reading yesterday that came from I think the father of one of The Fallen:

“The Aggie Spirit built bonfire; the bonfire did not build the Aggie Spirit.”

**If you did a blog post that I have not seen or linked to here, please link to it in the comments. **

Edited to add:

I also wanted to add a link to this Youtube video of the UT band playing Amazing Grace at the A&M/UT game in 1999 that I retweeted yesterday. Go here if you have kleenex available.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Spirit of Aggieland – looking back at Bonfire

10 years ago this very night, a horrible thing happened to a place that I dearly love.  10 years ago, a horrific scene was left.  10 years ago, 12 young men and women whom I had never met, but with whom I had an unbreakable bond died.  10 years ago, the bonfire stack collapsed and that changed the landscape of my beloved Texas A&M forever. 

I had been gone from campus for four years when tragedy struck.  I don’t remember where I was when I got the news.  I was doing life and honestly don’t remember much at all from that horrible time that I know the current students faced.  But reading this article in Texas Monthly recently gave me just a hint of what they went through.  (You really should read it.)

So, today, I remember these twelve and their families.  Today I recognize that their families still mourn the loss of those young men and women.  Today, however, I also mourn the loss of the tradition of bonfire that was so dear to the hearts of Aggies over the last 100 years.  So, today, I want to give you a glimpse into what Aggie Bonfire, was like for me.

To understand even a little bit of Bonfire, you must realize that it was entirely built by students.  The tradition started in 1909 as a pile of scraps and morphed eventually into a five-tiered wedding cake looking design and symbolized “our burning desire to beat the hell outta t.u.”  It was the height of Aggie tradition at its best.  Teamwork, ingenuity, hard work and passion all came together over the fall semester and culminated in a fire that’s probably bigger than you can possibly imagine.

Each year’s Bonfire was the freshman class’s Bonfire.  My Bonfire (my freshman year) in 1991 was the last Bonfire to be held on Duncan Field.  Now, I say “My Bonfire” but I’ll be the first to admit that I was not one of the “red-ass” girls that was out at cut and working on stack.  Nope.  My place was in the Coke Shack providing lemonade and hot cocoa to those who were red-ass enough to be building it. 

My man, though, while we did not know one another at the time, was one who went to cut, swung an axe (yes… an axe) and got in there to help build Bonfire.  Most of the stories that he could tell are not really fitting for a mostly family friendly blog.  But he did remember one night being out at stack and was tied to one of the perimeter poles  in order to protect it (don’t ask because I don’t know that I could explain it).  One of the Junior Red Pots (JeRPs) came the next morning and rounded up several fish (aka freshmen), loaded them into his truck, drove them out to cut site, handed them trash bags and told them to get to work picking up trash.  In my man’s words, “it was early, it was cold and it was drizzly. In a word, miserable.”  He also recalled,

“We’d have fun at cut because you weren’t allow to walk away from a tree with a notch in it.  You’d work together as a dorm until that tree was down.  So it was fun to go over to another dorm’s section of the woods, right before lunch, and notch a tree, then run.  The JeRPs would come through and wouldn’t release that dorm to go to lunch until all the notched trees were down, regardless of how hungry they were.”

Bonfire91

Our sophomore year was the first year that Bonfire would be held on the Polo Fields.  It was a difficult year for those building it because the new field was still very soft soil.  It hadn’t been trampled on and packed down like Duncan had been for probably at least 30 years.  It was a muddy mess that year, if I remember right. 

My sophomore year was also the year that a friend of mine from high school that attended OU came down to visit.  Bonfire was something he wanted to experience.  When I asked him today if he remembered that trip, this was his response:

“I remember. It's not the sort of thing one forgets. I remember hearing about bonfire for several years. Usually, stories become tall tales, rarely living up to the hype; but this was different. Nothing prepared me for how big the structure really is. Now, on top of all of this is something the Aggie faithful call 'yell practice'. Well, I don't know why they call it practice, because I believe I was the only one here that felt a bit like a fish out of water. This of course did not stop the Aggie students from putting their arms around me and allowing me, an outsider, to participate in what has to be the world's largest pep rally. I feel fortunate to be counted amongst those that had the pleasure to experience such a great tradition.  I can assure you that OU has nothing in comparison.”

This is what my friend saw that night.

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I love that picture because with those hands sticking up in the air, you get a sense of the size that Bonfire was.

We remember that the yell leaders would always thank all the t-sips that were there to see Bonfire burn for their presence and their support.  It’s true, too.  There were always t.u. students and fans that would come to see the spectacle, just as my friend from OU did.  In fact, our junior year, a friend of mine from t.u. came to Bonfire with us.  That was also the year that the Class of ‘94 invited the class of ‘64 to come back and have it’s last Bonfire since it was cancelled in the fall of 1963 to respect the death of President Kennedy.

My senior year was the year  that excessive rain caused the ground to shift,  and on October 26, 1994, centerpole cracked and stack started to lean.  The decision was made to pull it down completely and start over with 7 days until the burn date.  That year was known as “Rebuild.”

Both Mike and I were living off campus and since much of the Bonfire involvement was done through on campus dorms, we had not been involved up to that point that year.  At that point, though, we were involved.  Everyone was.  I think I may have even helped to schlep a log one night.  One log and I was done, but I had done my part.

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It’s hard to explain what Bonfire was, but if you don’t understand it, then these deaths are also hard to understand.   (Not that they are easy to understand even for those of us who do understand Bonfire.)  The entire fall semester revolved around it.  Some people wore the same clothes to cut and stack every time they went and never washed their grodes (as they were called) but just burned them at Bonfire.  It united the student body like nothing else ever did.  At Bonfire we were one.  And I think that’s part of why we built it. 

I was not there in 1999 when the second time it collapsed it did so violently with people on top and killed 12 fellow Aggies.  I was not there and have been somewhat removed from the tragedy.  But my heart aches for the families that lost young lives that night and in the days following.  My heart also aches for my school that lost a tradition and for the classes since then who have not experienced all that Bonfire was. 

I have gotten to know several Aggies on Twitter as of late and there are two girls who were there at the time.  @aggieredhead recalled having taken a log from Bonfire in 1998 and eventually getting rid of it not realizing it would be the last Bonfire on campus.  @niseag03 told me about the Yell Practice that Friday before the game against t.u.  “…They showed an image of Bonfire on the jumbotron. Not a dry eye, and not a single sound. Such solidarity and unity in one place.” 

Will Bonfire ever return to campus at Texas A&M?  I don’t know.  I doubt it, but I wish, on some level, that it could. 

But today, my hope for Aggieland is that even if Bonfire does not return to campus, the students will find some way to unite the diverse campus in a large scale way the way Bonfire did.  That they would find a unifying way to truly demonstrate in a new way “the spirit can ne’er be told.”

I leave you with this poem that was recited at each Bonfire by the head yell leader by memory.

"The Last Corps Trip"
By P.H. DuVal Jr. '51

It was Judgment Day in Aggieland
And tenseness filled the air;
All knew there was a trip at hand,
But not a soul knew where.

Assembled on the drill field
Was the world-renowned Twelfth Man,
The entire fighting Aggie team
And the famous Aggie Band.

And out in front with Royal Guard
The reviewing party stood;
St. Peter and his angel staff
Were choosing bad from good.

First he surveyed the Aggie team
And in terms of an angel swore,
"By Jove, I do believe I've seen
This gallant group before.

I've seen them play since way back when,
And they've always had the grit;
I've seen 'em lose and I've seen 'em win
But I've never seen 'em quit.

No need for us to tarry here
Deciding upon their fates;
Tis plain as the halo on my head
That they've opened Heaven's gates."

And when the Twelfth Man heard this,
They let out a mighty yell
That echoed clear to Heaven
And shook the gates of Hell.

"And what group is this upon the side,"
St. Peter asked his aide,
"That swelled as if to burst with pride
When we our judgment made?"

"Why, sir, that's the Cadet Corps
That's known both far and wide
For backing up their fighting team
Whether they won lost or tied."

"Well, then," said St. Peter,
"It's very plain to me
That within the realms of Heaven
They should spend eternity.

And have the Texas Aggie Band
At once commence to play
For their fates too we must decide
Upon this crucial day."

And the drum major so hearing
Slowly raised his hand
And said, "Boys, let's play The Spirit
For the last time in Aggieland."

And the band poured forth the anthem,
In notes both bright and clear
And ten thousand Aggie voices
Sang the song they hold so dear.

And when the band had finished,
St. Peter wiped his eyes
And said, "It's not so hard to see
They're meant for Paradise."

And the colonel of the Cadet Corps said
As he stiffly took his stand,
"It's just another Corps Trip, boys,
We'll march in behind the band."

Friday, November 6, 2009

BBA Challenge #15 - Italian Bread

If you are new to my blog, you can read about the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge here and about my involvement in it here.  You can also find the rest of my BBA Challenge posts here.

It has been an incredibly long time since I actually baked this bread, but it’s time I got caught up on my posts. 

I decided that I would actually follow the formula this time and make and use a biga.  Here it is cut up and coming back up to room temperature.

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Have I mentioned how much I love my new KA stand mixer?

100_6202  Window “pain”?  Not anymore.  That’s a windowpane! 

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I don’t know why, but I love before and after fermentation pictures.  I think it’s just so cool!

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I made 1 large loaf and 5 torpedo rolls.

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And the finished product?100_6215

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We enjoyed some very Italian dishes with our beautiful Italian bread.

Spaghetti with garlic bread…

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And some meatball subs loaded with melted cheese. Mmmmm…  100_6238 100_6240

Overall Impressions:

This bread was not difficult, but I did not find it to be as flavorful as the French baguettes.  I don’t know if this was because of my use of sourdough starter in the French bread or just some difference in the formulas.

Would I make it again?  For my time, I’d rather have the French bread. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jesus is in the hard places

I have to believe it.  I just have to believe that He is in my hard place right now.

Part of what discussed today at BSF was the story from John 4:43-54 of Jesus healing the son of a nobleman.  During this portion of the lecture, our teaching leader discussed the likelihood that the nobleman was initially resistant to believing that Jesus was not limited by time, space or death.  I think back now and wonder how hard it must have been to believe Jesus and obey when he said, “Go, your son will live” (vs. 50). 

At one point, she loosely quoted Tom Landry:

“Leadership is getting someone to do what they don’t want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve.”

While our lecture was not on leadership, the point that I took away from it was this:  Sometimes, God is going to make me do some things that  don’t want to do to achieve the results that He wants. 

That nobleman had to believe and act on that belief  by leaving and going home in order for Jesus to release his healing power. 

But between that time of belief/action and the time that he got word that his son was alive and well, the nobleman was on the road between Cana and Capernaum.  Can you imagine how hard that road home must have been?  Knowing that you had entrusted your son’s very life to someone and that you were then leaving behind.  How alone must this father have felt?

But you know what?  Jesus was there.  He hadn’t been left behind.  Not in the least. He was working in the situation as that man took his (literal) steps of faith and headed home.

The man had to do what he didn’t want to do in order for Jesus to achieve the result that He wanted… the man’s faith.

So the final quote this morning was that “Jesus is in the hard places [of life].”

I won’t kid you a bit.  I am in a hard place.  A hard place full of details that need not be discussed here, but hard nonetheless.  I have spent the better part of this week very discouraged and feeling defeated and alone.  I have been asking Jesus to shine his Light on my situation that looks so very dark.  And now, with this bit of truth, I feel like that prayer is being answered. 

Jesus is in the hard places. 

I quoted this on twitter today and someone sent me this message back: “The hard place is also known as the "cleft of the rock."  He is nearer than you know.” 

And, yet again, I am taken back to Exodus 33:18 where Moses says to the Lord, “Show me your glory.”  God replies and in verse 22 says, “When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.” 

Jesus is in the hard places.

I ask Him to show His glory.

As I am here, in this hard place.

Friendship

We came home from BSF today and Nathan immediately asked to watch a movie.  (You must understand that in our house, for some reason, any show on television is called a movie by both of our children.  I have no idea why.)  I told him that I was not turning anything on and that we were about to eat lunch. 

He happily went about his business and played with his remote controlled motorcycles while I got lunch ready and then we ate. 

After we had finished, he went back to his motorcycles and then, the next thing I know, he has cleaned up and put them all away.  Then he said the most curious thing.

“Mom, I’ll be your best friend if you turn on a movie for me.”

As with so many things that this boy says, I had to stifle my laughter.  But that was only for a moment until I realized the larger picture that was at stake here.

Certainly, Nathan does not have the full understanding of the weight of what he said, but I cannot as a responsible parent, let this teaching opportunity pass by.  I just can’t.  So we talked about it.

Think about that statement though.  Let the weight of it rest upon you for a moment.

How often do we do that; both as kids and as adults?  We set conditions on our friendship.  We are in essence saying, “I’ll be your friend as long as you do something for me.  As long as you meet some need that I have.”

Or the opposite might me true.  Maybe we say, “I will do this for you if you’ll just please be my friend.”

I know I have been on both sides of that conversation.  I’ve been the one to only offer friendship if the person has done something for me.  And I’ve been the one, even recently, who has done things for people, time consuming things, just to prove myself worthy of their friendship.

And it dawned on me, all in these few brief moments that I had to whittle the whole concept down so that I could talk to my 4 year old about it, that it’s not about what we do for one another.  As I explained to him, we’re friends just because we are, regardless of what one person does for another. 

And then, I turned on a show, just because I love him and because he asked me.  Not because I need or want him to be my best friend.  But because I wanted to bless him.

That, my friends, is what friendship is about.

Go out and bless a friend today.  Just because.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Oh, and it was also Halloween {Mama Braggin’ Monday}

My mom called last week while I was gone one evening and invited us to come out to see them and their new house this weekend.  But as she and Mike talked about it for a moment, they realized that it was Halloween.  But once we talked about it, we realized that we had absolutely no plans during the entire weekend, so we said sure.  Because, seriously, the kids don’t care where they trick or treat as long as they get the candy, right?

Right.

I called her back and let her know that we did still have soccer games first thing on Saturday morning, but we would plan to leave right after that.  So off we went to Mimi and Papa’s house for Halloween.  This was a first for us.

I love that my kids spent that day doing a lot of this…

100_6544 … and this …

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… and being doted on like this…

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Oh and they also dressed up because it was, after all, Halloween.  100_6559

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We went to a little bity country church’s fall festival.    The kids played games, went on a hayride and ate corny dogs. 

And, of course, got candy and prizes.

So, in my opinion… Halloween just doesn’t get any better than the day we had on Saturday.  I hope yours came close to being as fun as ours.