Saturday, October 27, 2007

I am SO cup overflows!

It has been one of those weeks. God has been so faithful to my than that...He has been abundant in His mercy, grace and blessing! I am overwhelmed with gratitude to my Father. He has blessed me financially...worked miracles with my vehicle....given grace in a health issue....and given me peace, grace and mercy at the times I needed/wanted them most. In my most faithless moments, He is ever faithful! When I turn doubting eyes His way, He is standing with arms outstretched to receive me....I serve an awesome God!

Let me share a small portion of a devotion by Elisabeth Elliot....
Source: Keep A Quiet Heart
Scripture: Psalm 103:4-5 Psalm 92:1 Psalm 145 Psalm 68:19 Lamentations 3:22-23
An Overflowing Cup

...."The Lord is gracious and compassionate.: good to all... faithful to all his promises... loving toward all he has made.... righteous in all his ways.... near to all who call on him.... watches over all who love him.... My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord" (from Psalm 145, NIV).

As an editor my father spent his life reading other people's writings and never thought of writing a book. Three collections of his short writings were published in book form, however, one entitled New Every Morning (published by Zondervan in 1969, now out of print). Here's the title piece, an exercise in thanksgiving, and a glimpse of the man he was. I think you'll see why I'm thankful for such a father.

"Blessings taken for granted are often forgotten. Yet our Heavenly Father 'daily loadeth us with benefits' (Psalm 68:19). Think of some of the common things which are nevertheless wonderful:

"--the intricate, delicate mechanism of the lungs steadily and silently taking in fresh air eighteen to twenty times a minute;

"--the untiring heart, pumping great quantities of clean blood through the labyrinth of blood vessels;

"--the constant body temperature, normally varying less than one degree;

"--the atmospheric temperature, varying widely it is true, but never so much as to destroy human and animal life;

"--the orderly succession of day and night, spring, summer, autumn, and winter, so that, with few exceptions, man can make his plans accordingly;

"--the great variety of foods, from the farm, the field, the forest, and the sea, to suit our differing desires and physical needs;

"--the beauties of each day--the morning star and growing light of sunrise, the white clouds of afternoon, the soft tints of a peaceful sunset, and the glory of the starry heavens;

"--the symphony of early morning bird songs, ranging from the unmusical trill of the chipping sparrow to the lilting ecstasy of the goldfinch and the calm, rich, bell-like tones of the wood and hermit thrushes;

"--the refreshment that sleep brings;

"--the simple joys of home--the children's laughter and whimsical remarks, happy times around the table, the love and understanding of husband and wife, and the harmony of voices raised together in praise to God.

"All these and many others come from the bountiful hand of Him 'who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's' (Psalm 103:4,5).

"'It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness' (Lamentations 3:22,23).

"'It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High' (Psalm 92:1)."

Join my boys and I as we give thanks and sing praises to our most High God who redeemed our lives from destruction and crowns us with unmerited lovingkindness and tender mercies!


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Come see...

It was early...very early. I was on the couch in the middle of devotions..I love the quiet of the early morning before the boys are up. The house is quiet, the dawn is just beginning to break, the birds are beginning to sing and, of course, the roosters are strutting their stuff (why must they strut so noisily?).

This time I heard another noise....a little voice saying "Mom! Come to my room quick!" It was was really early for him! Immediately I wondered what was broken, spilt, wrong...I asked....and again he repeated. "Come quick" and off he went.

Quickly I set my bible down and followed....sure that I would find vomit on the carpet or in the bed, broken glass on the floor...a fish that had died (again!) but I was so wrong. Elijah led me quickly to his window...and over our pond was the most brilliant rainbow I have ever seen. The most awesome part was its reflection in our was breathtaking. I think the colors were so vivid because there was so little light at that time. By the time I gathered my wits and got my camera, the dawn was increasing and caused the rainbow to fade quite a bit. Here is what I was able to capture.


Can you see the reflection in the pond...just moments before this it was vivid!


There were two rainbows...side by side...something I used to see a lot when I lived in Washington state but I don't remember ever seeing here in TN before.


The other boys heard us whispering and awoke in time to enjoy the show with us. So timely, since we are studying in Genesis right now. It was just so lovely, I wanted to share it with you.

An awesome reminder of God's promises. We learned a neat thing in our lesson today when we were studying about Noah. It was something I think we all need to be reminded of occasionally so if you permit, I'll share it with you.

God issued Noah an build an ark. But Noah had to R.S.V.P.! Noah needed to respond. Noah had do we! He could accept the invitation, which thankfully he did, or he could sit still and do nothing...which would have led to death. Too often, in many churches, we are taught to "claim it" but we aren't encouraged to participate. Don't get me isn't that God needs our help...but our participation is crucial to our refining process. And often, our participation is required before God acts.

Think of Jesus and Lazarus! When Jesus was taken to the tomb of Lazarus why did he ask the people to roll the stone away? Didn't Jesus have the ability to move the stone with a wave of his hand...a word...a unspoken thought? Why did he ask the people to walk in faith...before he unleashed a miracle before them?

Throughout our lives we are given many opportunites and we are issued many invitations from God. Does not God want us to quit sitting there waiting for God to "change us"...(the chorus "wouldn't it be nice" goes ringing through my mind at this point)! Are we not to put forth effort, to make godly choices, to deny ourselves, to participate in God's leading, do what we know is right instead of what we want or feel like doing?

Do we respond to God's invitations as Noah did? Or do we sit and do nothing...which leads to death....

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Am I truly meek....

As usual, Elisabeth Elliot explains meekness and how it applies in our lives...(emphasis is mine)
Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: Keep A Quiet Heart
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:25 Zephaniah 2:3 Matthew 11:28-29 Psalm 25:9 Isaiah 29:19 James 1:21 Colossians 3:12 2 Corinthians 10:1-4 Numbers 12:3
The Key to Supernatural Power

The world cannot fathom strength proceeding from weakness, gain proceeding from loss, or power from meekness. Christians apprehend these truths very slowly, if at all, for we are strongly influenced by secular thinking. Let's stop and concentrate on what Jesus meant when He said that the meek would inherit the earth. Do we understand what meekness truly is? Think first about what it isn't.

It is not a naturally phlegmatic temperament. I knew a woman who was so phlegmatic that nothing seemed to make much difference to her at all. While drying dishes for her one day in her kitchen I asked where I should put a serving platter.

"Oh, I don't know. Wherever you think would be a good place," was her answer. I wondered how she managed to find things if there wasn't a place for everything (and everything in its place).

Meekness is not indecision or laziness or feminine fragility or loose sentimentalism or indifference or affable neutrality.

Meekness is most emphatically not weakness. Do you remember who was the meekest man in the Old Testament? Moses! (See Numbers 12:3). My mental image of him is not of a feeble man. It is shaped by Michelangelo's sculpture and painting and by the biblical descriptions. Think of him murdering the Egyptian, smashing the tablets of the commandments, grinding the golden calf to a powder, scattering it on the water and making the Israelites drink it. Nary a hint of weakness there, nor in David who wrote, "The meek will he guide in judgment" (Psalm 25:9, KJV), nor in Isaiah, who wrote, "The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord" (Isaiah 29:19, KJV).

The Lord Jesus was the Lamb of God, and when we think of lambs we think of meekness (and perhaps weakness), but He was also the Lion of Judah, and He said, "I am meek and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29, KJV). He told us that we can find rest for our souls if we will come to Him, take His yoke, and learn. What we must learn is meekness. It doesn't come naturally to any of us.

Meekness is teachability. "The meek will he teach his way" (Psalm 25:9, KJV). It is the readiness to be shown, which includes the readiness to lay down my fixed notions, my objections and "what ifs" or "but what abouts," my certainties about the rightness of what I have always done or thought or said. It is the child's glad "Show me! Is this the way? Please help me." We won't make it into the kingdom without that childlikeness, that simple willingness to be taught and corrected and helped. "Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21, KJV). Meekness is an explicitly spiritual quality, a fruit of the Spirit, learned, not inherited. It shows in the kind of attention we pay to one another, the tone of voice we use, the facial expression.

One weekend I spoke in Atlanta on this subject, and the following weekend I was to speak on it again in Philadelphia. As very often happens, I was sorely tested on that very point in the few days in between. That sore test was my chance to be taught and changed and helped. At the same time I was strongly tempted to indulge in the very opposite of meekness: sulking. Someone had hurt me. He/she was the one who needed to be changed! I felt I was misunderstood, unfairly treated, and unduly berated. Although I managed to keep my mouth shut, both the Lord and I knew that my thoughts did not spring from a depth of loving-kindness and holy charity. I wanted to vindicate myself to the offender. That was a revelation of how little I knew of meekness.

The Spirit of God reminded me that it was He who had provided this very thing to bring that lesson of meekness which I could learn nowhere else. He was literally putting me on the spot: would I choose, here and now, to learn of Him, learn His meekness? He was despised, rejected, reviled, pierced, crushed, oppressed, afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. What was this little incident of mine by comparison with my Lord's suffering? He brought to mind Jesus' willingness not only to eat with Judas who would soon betray Him, but also to kneel before him and wash his dirty feet. He showed me the look the Lord gave Peter when he had three times denied Him--a look of unutterable love and forgiveness, a look of meekness which overpowered Peter's cowardice and selfishness, and brought him to repentance. I thought of His meekness as He hung pinioned on the cross, praying even in His agony for His Father's forgiveness for His killers. There was no venom or bitterness there, only the final proof of a sublime and invincible love.

But how shall I, not born with the smallest shred of that quality, I who love victory by argument and put-down, ever learn that holy meekness? The prophet Zephaniah tells us to seek it (Zephaniah 2:3). We must walk (live) in the Spirit, not gratifying the desires of the sinful nature (for example, my desire to answer back, to offer excuses and accusations, my desire to show up the other's fault instead of to be shown my own). We must "clothe" ourselves (Colossians 3:12) with meekness--put it on, like a garment. This entails an explicit choice: I will be meek. I will not sulk, will not retaliate, will not carry a chip.

A steadfast look at Jesus instead of at the injury makes a very great difference. Seeking to see things in His light changes the aspect altogether.

In PILGRIM'S PROGRESS, Prudence asks Christian in the House Beautiful, "Can you remember by what means you find your annoyances at times, as if they were vanquished?"

"Yes," says Christian, "when I think what I saw at the Cross, that will do it."

The message of the cross is foolishness to the world and to all whose thinking is still worldly. But "the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength" (1 Corinthians 1:25, NIV). The meekness of Jesus was a force more irresistible than any force on earth. "By the meekness and gentleness of Christ," wrote the great apostle, "I appeal to you.... Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:1, 3-4, NIV). The weapon of meekness counters all enmity, says author Dietrich Von Hildebrand, with the offer of an unshielded heart.

Isn't this the simple explanation for our being so heavy-laden, so tired, so overburdened and confused and bitter? We drag around such prodigious loads of resentment and self-assertion. Shall we not rather accept at once the loving invitation: "Come to Me. Take My yoke. Learn of Me--I am gentle, meek, humble, lowly. I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28-29 paraphrased).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

On cookbooks and drinking shrubs....

I recently mentioned drinking a raspberry shrub (yummy!) and a reader left this comment:
Hi Cheri,

Okay, I'm terribly curious about Raspberry Shrub. I'm a Yankee and I feel instinctively this is a Southern treat we need up here.


Yes, Diane, I think this is a southern drink. At least I assume it is, because I am a southern woman, have never lived up north, and as a child it was a common thing. Not so much anymore...but then neither are stay-at home mom's and cooking from scratch!)

Here is a recipe for a shrub....I used raspberry but you could use another fruit of your choice:
Raspberry Shrub

4 quarts raspberries, 1 quart vinegar, sugar

Mash red or black raspberries and cover with vinegar (I like to use Braggs apple cider vinegar - please don't use white vinegar). Let stand overnight or longer (I like longer...more flavorful). Strain.

To each pint of juice, add 1 pound of sugar (I don't use white and I use less). Boil 20 minutes, then put in sterilized bottles and keep in a cool place. (I also can these using the water bath method).

To make the shrub, use 2 tblsp. to a glass of water. I have heard of people using seltzer water, but we prefer filtered water. Be sure to put lots of ice in the glass! Add a sprig of spearmint and you have a lovely drink!

This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks. You can keep all of the cookbooks that are currently being published...I find that few of them actually involve cooking...too many are based on "mixing". Open this bottle or this can...add this or that with the stuff from this box....the goal appears to be to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible. LADIES!!! For the most part this is NOT cooking with real food!

So....I wander the aisles of the cookbook section during the Library's annual used book sales. I look for cookbooks from BEFORE the 1960's...the 20's, 30's and 40's are best! I always find treasures. I imagine that women today are cleaning out their mothers old cookbooks in favor of the new. This is so sad to me somehow. Some of the best treasures are finding hand written recipes or newspaper clippings tucked lovingly inside these books. How fun!

Most women have no interest in these books - the recipes take too much time I guess. It is hard to have a meal done in 30 minutes when you use real food! (Although I have a few recipes that work that way!) I love to cook so I don't mind spending time in the kitchen. My boys are so appreciative that it makes the work well worth the time involved. Elijah loves to know in the morning what I have planned for dinner....he delights in the thought of it all day.

I have cookbooks that tell me how to take care of my dairy cow, make cheese, tend the chickens (or butcher one for Sunday dinner!) and more! I love these! These were written back when the "grocery store" was your own pantry of canned goods, your root cellar and your garden...or perhaps a corner country store that local farmers brought their produce THAT is cooking with real food!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Homemade Croutons!

Making croutons is SO easy. Since several of you have asked how...let me share what I do. I am sure there are other ways and would love to hear from those of you who also make croutons....I love to learn! I am only sorry that I didn't take pictures recently when I made these....

I start with a loaf of sourdough bread. It doesn't have to be sourdough...that is just my favorite. I slice the loaf a little thicker than I would for sandwiches. I then stack 3 or 4 slices together and cut them in long strips....I then cut those into cubes. The size is totally up to you....just try to imagine what size you want them in your salad....I prefer bite size pieces. Continue cutting until you have cubed the entire loaf.

I toss all of these cubes in a very large mixing bowl...sort of wide and shallow - you don't want it to be too deep or you will end up crushing all of your cubes during the stirring.

Next, I melt some wonderful home-churned butter, however, store bought will do fine. I drizzle this butter slowly over the cubes as I gently stir...almost fold....the cubes. You do not want them to get crushed. Once the cubes are lightly coated ( you do NOT want them soggy!) the fun begins....

You are now going to use a variety of herbs, cheeses or even garlic to flavor your cubes. Let your imagination run wild! I like to use freshly grated Parmesan cheese. (*HINT* The stuff in the tall, round, green container is not really Parmesan least it does not resemble in any way, shape, form or taste what falls from my grater when I grate real Parmesan recommendation is to go for the real thing!) I add some dried herbs from my garden....sometimes it is as simple as parsley...other times I like to use basil, thyme and rosemary...or perhaps just basil! I also like to use tarragon or lovage or lemon thyme....begin to experiment! I usually add a little freshly crushed garlic too - sometimes I melt this into the butter (my favorite way) and sometimes when I forget, I just add it to the mixture.

I gently fold this mixture again until it appears that the croutons are well and evenly coated. Now, close your eyes and pop one of the wonderful bread cubes into your mouth....if you go "yumm!" it is a success! Place the cubes in a single layer on a cookie sheet and put them into a warm oven...175 to 200 is great. Keep an eye on them and remove once they are toasted! Let them cool and then store them in air tight containers...I try to avoid plastic so I use canning jars.

This only takes about 20 minutes from start to placing them in the oven....their flavor will be so much better than anything you can find in the grocery store with the added benefit that there will be no chemicals, preservatives, "flavors" or other unknown things in your croutons. You will also find them to be MUCH less expensive!

I also recommend doing this when your children aren't around....they would eat the entire batch right off of the cookie sheet as they cooled....and, if you are like me, you will really want to have them in your salad!

Sunday, October 14, 2007


This hymn spoke to me this week....hope it speaks to you :)
In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Busy in my kitchen....

If I seem quiet, it is because I have been busy in my kitchen. There are so many things still to process before the cold weather hits. I don't want to waste a thing! Each day we are picking tomatoes, peppers, herbs and more! I have been using Julie's recipe for Green Tomato Side dish. I have done a couple of bushels of green tomatoes this way. It smells wonderful in the pot and looks like this....


And here is the finished project for one afternoon....tn_100_4621.JPG

Then the boys pointed out that we were out of croutons I spent a couple of hours making some homemade, sourdough croutons...yummy! I usually only do one loaf of bread at a time....I guess I need to try freezing them and see how they turn out. I put them in canning jars when they are is SO easy to do and SO much less expensive than what you can buy in the store. get to leave out all of those chemicals, preservatives and "natural" flavors.... :)


The two older boys and I made a trip to my friend Pam's farm on Monday. Pam has WONDERFUL berries. Their farm is at the top of the mountains! The berry patch is SO easy to pick in...wide rows...very neat with a lovely rushing creek and many birds to serenade you while you work! They are some of the nicest and friendliest people you could EVER hope to meet. I have been buying from them for years. If you live in NE Tennessee or Western North Carolina you need to visit their berry patch next year! They do not spray their berries and are in the process of getting their farm certified for organic production. Their season is over now but she emailed me to tell me she had lots of Jewelweed. We left Elijah home....the curves are a bit too much for his tummy which suffers greatly from motion sickness. It is the first time I didn't take him and he was disappointed, but we weren't planning on picking many berries and we were wanting to get there and home quickly.

So, I have another batch of Jewelweed drying and will be turning this batch into soap to help combat poison ivy in our family...and hopefully in some of yours :)tn_100_4634.JPG

While we were there I just HAD to pick some raspberries. We managed to find just under a gallon of berries...I am sure I ate quite a bit as I picked. Pam encourages people to do this which is always a wonderful treat. Their berry patch often works on the honor system....there is a small berry house there with instructions on how to pick, weigh and pay for the berries if no one is home. Raspberries are my FAVORITE food in the world. I really need to plant about an acre in berries!

I put out two bowls of berries for Elijah and Josiah today. I planned to take a picture to show you how beautiful Pam's berries you can see, I am not the only one who loves raspberries...this is what I found when I returned with my camera.


And this is what I did with the berries we picked.....


These half gallon jars are filled with raspberry vinegar. The two jars on the left were made with red wine vinegar and the jar on the right is made with white wine vinegar. I will use this to make Raspberry Vinaigrette, Creamy Raspberry dressing and other a good old fashioned shrub! In the summer, nothing is more refreshing than an old fashioned Raspberry Shrub to drink! I will also be making some Raspberry syrup - yummy for home churned ice cream or to put on made from scratch buttermilk pancakes! Of course, I have still have some in the freezer (from our last picking) for raspberry/jalapeno chicken, pies, breads, muffins, ice cream, sherbert and just plain eating!

I guess you can see that I really meant it about loving raspberries....don't even get me started on the jellies, jams and hot jams that I made....

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis.....Elijah and I were recently able to see all stages of this at a local library. They had Monarch Butterflies in all stages of life on display. It was fascinating! What really struck me was the correlation between these stages on our Christian journey...which I was able to share with Elijah (loudly!) at the public library...while praying that the rest of the children who were listening would have a seed planted that would someday lead to a decision for Christ!

Let me share a few pictures with you..Elijah is busy looking for the eggs of the Monarch on the milkweed plants that are scattered around the farm...they look like this:


When the egg hatches, the caterpillars emerge....they are incredibly tiny. However, God gave them wonderful protection. The only place that a Monarch lays its eggs is on the Milkweed plant. This plant is poisonous. This is the plant that the caterpillar feeds on. They continue through their entire life cycle on this plant until they become a butterfly...and then they return to a Milkweed plant to start the cycle all over again. Because they feed on this plant, they are poisonous to predators such as birds. God gave them very distinct markings....the predators know that this caterpillar (and later the butterfly) are poisonous and they leave them alone. Isn't God incredible?

Just in case you haven't seen what a Monarch caterpillar looks like:


Aren't they beautiful?! Now, here is the really neat part. When the time comes for the caterpillar to progress to a butterfly, they hang themselves in a sort of a "J" this:


However, they do not spin a silk cocoon....they discard their old body and in its place you find a new "body" (chrysalis) look, new color...nothing that identifies it as what it was....completely changed!


In person, this doesn't even look real......the band around the top is a shiny gold color. It is a beautiful thing! This continues to change....each time getting a little closer to the end creation...the butterfly. Here is what it looks like during this transformation:tn_d5b00640.jpg


And from this emerges a totally new creation:


How wonderfully this reflects our lives as we surrender them to Christ! We are not to keep the "old sinful body" and try to change it....we are to die to allow the old and sinful nature to be put to death so that a new creation can emerge that will reflect the glory of the God that we serve! We fight so hard against this death of our old nature, we are comfortable with is all we know...we don't want to "die". Yet if we allow Him to work His will in this, we will become "transformed" and become the beautiful creature He intended us to be!
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