Gratitude and faith

I started reading another book by Piper, very similar to Pierced by the Word. It's another devotional called Life as a Vapor. Every day I read something so good, but this one served me this week, on gratitude and faith, entitled, "Endings Are For gratitude, Beginnings Are For Faith.

One of my weaknesses is a lack of faith for the future. This helped bring perspective this week to my heart, and reminded me that every moment is a moment made for thankfulness to God, and at the same time, faith toward God for the future. Here's are a few exerts:

"Since every moment is the beginning of the rest of your life, and every moment is the end of the past, every moment should be governed by the glad affections of both gratitude and faith...see the world the way Gustav Oehler (German Lutheran professor of Old Testament at Tubingen, 1812-1872) sees it...Oehler said, 'It is clear that the Old Testament teaches a providence which embraces everything...No sphere of chance exists in the Old Testament...Even what men call accidental death is under God's direction'...

In this view of things, looking back is looking on the past providence of God: 'As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.' (Genesis 50:20). And looking forward is looking on the future providence of God...

If you see the world in this biblical way - and if you stand inside that biblical world as your humbly-accepted world - than every moment will be a point of gratitude toward the past and faith toward the future. The practical implications of this are great. For example, gratitude is one of the humblest affections; and faith is one of the boldest. Just think of what kind of people we would be int the next year for the cause of Christ if we were continually humbled by our backward look of gratitude and continually emboldened by our forward look of faith! No, don't just think about it. Pursue it- with all your mind and all your heart."


The world of editing

So, I finally got my feet in the water with photo editing...umm, wow, is all I can say! No, not on my computer yet. We still have some work to do on it before we can put software on it. But I went over to my brother-in-law's to adjust a few pictures and to learn some things from him. He has photoshop, which is WAY over my head, but I still learned some of the basics. I told him what I had in mind for a few pictures and he helped me out. I love so amazing what you can do, and it really allows you to be creative. A blase picture can all of a sudden look great. Here are a few...

Thanks so much, Joe, for all your help! I hope I can learn much more from you in the future.


More Mckenna...

So the other day, my wife (huh? ...yes, this is Dave posting) my wife was playing dolls with Mckenna on the dinner table. Can I tell you that I'm always just a breath away from laughing with delight when I watch Heather play with either of our girls? These days it is even more fun to watch her playing with Mckenna because that little girl is more articulate and discerning now, so you have to add a fair level of logic to pass the muster. Heather, of course, is very imaginative and creative and thoroughly entertains Mckenna every time. Did you know Heather is an impressive story teller?

In this play time Mckenna had My Little Pony and Heather had Cinderella. Somehow they ended up in a veterinary visit scenario and the talking pony needed Dr. Cinderella to attend to a wound.

"Ok. Well, this is going to hurt a little, but I'll have you stitched up in no time!" said Dr. Cinderella. "Zip, zip,'re all done!"

After a few doctor visits My Little Pony decided that she wanted to be the doctor.

"Hello Doctor Pony. I don't feel so good." said Cinderella.

Clop, clop, clop approached Dr. My Little Pony. "Ok come here. This is going to be Very Hurty!"

I still laugh out loud at this one.


According to Mckenna

I have not posted one of these in awhile and Dave has been encouraging me to do so...just so we don't forget this sweet season Mckenna is in. She still says such the cutest things.

So, today we went outside to collect some leaves. This fall has brought some of the most beautiful foliage that I can remember. Considering the drought we had, I didn't expect much color, but I am once again amazed at the creativity of our God. I know I am getting sidetracked here, but yesterday we were driving back from Damascus, and a few times I was tempted to just pull over to admire the views...everything was painted such deep colors of reds, oranges and yellows. And today, after we collected leaves, I sat and admired one which was such a deep and beautiful red. I thought that just a few months ago, this leaf was bright green...amazing! How awesome of God to bless us once a year with such beauty before all the leaves fall.

Ok, back to my story...we brought the leaves inside, put some in books to press, did some leaf rubs with crayons, and then glued some leaves to paper. While I was explaining how to do leaf rubs, I started a few for her and then encouraged her to do it. She looked at it, put her head down, frowned, and said "I very can't do it, mom." I started to laugh and she said again, "I very can't it, mom." We both laughed together!


Farro and Roasted Butternut Squash

If you are looking for a new twist to your Thanksgiving menu or just something new to try this fall, you might consider this recipe. Christy Greer sent it to me and we just tried it this week. It was so tasty...better than you would expect. I prepared it as a main entree and it definitely filled us up. However, over the Thanksgiving holiday, I am going to make it as a side for my extended family.

Christy made some adjustments to it, as did I, but here is the recipe:

2 cups farro, rinsed and drained (I used barley instead)
2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
5 cups water (or stock)
3 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice (I used more than this)
1 large red onion cut into 1/8ths (white onion worked just as well)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup walnuts, deeply toasted
3 tablespoons toasted walnut oil (or more olive oil)
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled (I used feta cheese)

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine the farro, salt, and water in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, 45 minutes to an hour, or about half the time if you are using semi-pearled farro. Taste often as it is cooking, you want it to be toothsome and retain structure. Remove from heat, drain any excess water, and set aside.

While the farro is cooking toss the squash, onion, and thyme with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a couple big pinches of salt on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange in a single layer and place in the oven for about 20 minutes. Toss the squash and onions every 5-7 minutes to get browning on multiple sides. Remove from the oven, let cool a bit, and mince just 1/2 of the red onions.

In a large bowl gently toss the everything (except the goat cheese) with the toasted walnut oil (or olive oil). Taste and add a bit of salt if necessary. Serve family-style in a simple bowl or on a platter garnished with the goat cheese.

Serves 6 - 8 as a side, less as a main.


An amusing photo experience!

This past Saturday was so refreshing for me! Dave has been gone most of last week and has also been gone for the past few Saturdays. On Saturday morning, he took the girls
out to Chucky Cheese for rides and to play games. Then I met them Seneca Creek Park so I could take some pictures of the girls. I am still yet to get a recent nice picture of both of them together. But on the way there, Selah got tootsie roll all over herself and screamed almost the whole way. Once we got there, Selah continued to scream and wouldn't cooperate at all!! Mckenna did not want to take her coat off so I could take pictures (poor girl...didn't really blame her, it must have been 40 degrees!), so she looked a bit ridiculous. Needless to say, we didn't stay long, but it was fun! Here are the events of our time. I am laughing as I look and remember!

It all started with a chair that "I thought" the girls would love to sit in together long enough for me to take some pictures...

As you can see, Selah loved the idea!

I thought maybe Mckenna would help...nope!

So, I settled for some shots of Mckenna

One half decent one of Selah

Then, it was quickly time to go.


Very easy bean recipe

I tried this crock-pot recipe for the first time this week and it was good and super easy. The few pieces of bacon in it, add lots of flavor. I served it over rice.

White Beans
1 lb. great northern white beans
3-4 bacon strips, diced (I didn't cook the bacon, but you could probably if you wanted it crispier)
1/4 cup each chopped onions, bell peppers, and celery
salt and pepper
1/4 cup cooking oil

The original recipe said to cook the beans before adding to the crock-pot. However, I just put everything in together, beans uncooked, and cooked a little longer. It turned out fine. Here is what i did:

Let beans soak overnight; drain. Put all ingredients in a slow cooker with the beans; cover with water and cook on HIGH for around 6-7 hours or until beans are done. You may need to add more water if it all gets absorbed.


Good book

I am just finishing up one of John Piper's books, Pierced by the Word. It's a great little read for morning devotions and has continually left me hungering to dig deeper into God's Word. I highly recommend it!


Canning, a fun fall activity

Last night, thanks to Jerusha, I made my first attempt at canning. It's something that I have always been curious about, but always intimidated by. She assured me how easy it was, so I decided to give it a try. It seemed like a fun fall activity.

For me there was definitely a bit of a learning curve and I think I had to go back and ask her questions 3 times before I was done. It is a little time consuming (I was up till almost midnight last night), but not hard to do. What did I can? Yep, you guessed it...applesauce!

I'll definitely try it again. I look forward to the day when my girls are old enough and we can do it together. It was surprisingly fun, knowing and amazed at the fact that what I just put in a can, is able to stay fresh for months, even years to come. That amazes me!


Preschool update

We are continuing to plug away in preschool. Mckenna continues to just love it. We are starting the letter "E" this week.

One recent fun activity we did was on the letter "D." I pulled out a bunch of change and I was seeking to teach Mckenna the names of each coin. Then I asked her which one started with the letter D and had her to count out 10 dimes. I then tried to explain that 10 makes one dollar. I don't think she quite grasped the concept, but I told her that there is a store where you can pick out anything for one dollar. Her eyes got big. I then mentioned that I would take her there and she could pick out something.

So, today we ventured out so she could pick out something. She brought her purse that we had put the dimes in. Once we got there she quickly found a Disney princess figurine and decided that is what she wanted. When we got up to pay, she opened up her purse and no dimes! I asked her where they were and and she had no idea...that's my girl! I had to laugh....she loves to spend mama's money! But we had a fun time. To this hour, I still don't know where those dimes are ;o)

I love Mckenna's love for learning and hope it continues for years to come.


Apple Cake with Caramel Glaze

Can you tell we like Apples? Here is yet another apple recipe I tried for the first time. We had some friends over and I wanted something new. It was yummy!

Apple Cake with Caramel Glaze

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the dish
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the dish
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into a 1/2-inch dice (I just used the apples I had on hand, as long as they are baking apples, they will work).
1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped pecans
2 1/4 vanilla extract

Caramel Glaze (see below)

Heat oven to 325° F.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high, beat the butter and the granulated and brown sugars until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Using a wooden spoon, gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. The batter should be very thick. Stir in the apples, pecans, and vanilla. Scrape the batter into a buttered and floured 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Let cool for at least 10 minutes while you make the Caramel Glaze. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

With a spatula, loosen the sides of the cake. If you want to remove it from the pan, invert it onto a baking sheet, then invert it again, right-side up, onto a platter. With a toothpick or fork, poke holes all over the surface. Pour on the warm sauce. Serve warm or at room temperature, with ice cream, if desired.
Makes 16 servings

Caramel Glaze

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the granulated and brown sugars and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Stir in the cream and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.


Another crazy mom story

So, today I was trying to organize and go through Selah's winter clothes. Her room has been total chaos since Tuesday evening and we have been tripping over clothes. But to try to organize with her around...well, I don't get very far. This morning I cleaned up the breakfast dishes and noticed Selah climbing up into Mckenna's chair, going after the large amount of oatmeal that Mckenna left. My thought, "oh good, that will keep her busy for awhile." My second thought, "you are crazy!" Crazy maybe, but it would give me the chance to organize and put away. So, that's what I did. Every now and then I would hear the cling clanging of dish against table, but nothing big. About 20 minutes later, up comes Selah, covered from head to toe in oatmeal. I only glanced up briefly and wondered what the damage was downstairs. I finished up and then noticed oatmeal droppings everywhere Selah was walking upstairs. Turning her around, she had this huge glob of oatmeal stuck to her bottom and mushed into her clothes. Everywhere she toddled, some came off, leaving a trail that went all the way back to the kitchen. Yep, oatmeal everywhere! Table, chair, and floor...but her clothes were organized and put away and I could give thanks for oatmeal this morning. And realize what a crazy mom I am becoming!

My camera battery was charging so I couldn't get any pictures. But I'm sure you can easily imagine, if know our little Gracie...or are a crazy mom like me!


Another trip to the orchard

This past Tuesday we took another trip up to Rock Hill Orchard. I know I just put pictures up from our last trip, but it's actually been almost 3 weeks since we went last. The Sheffer's were spontaneous and joined us there. Mckenna was thrilled! I love watching her and Karis play together. Almost all of my pictures from the morning were just of Selah...Mckenna must have been having too much fun!


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