Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Blessed Christmas




I know some of you will struggle this year with having a jolly, merry Christmas. But whatever the circumstances of your life, my wish for you is that your Christmas will be filled with hope.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," 1 Peter 1:3
Thank you for continuing to bless my life with your encouragement. I count many of you as my friends, though we have never met in real life. I'll be taking a blogging break for the next few weeks. I'll be back in January!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Flo's Coffee Cakes Index

There is close to 400 recipes here at Home Joys now. And they are badly in need of organization. Even I often can't quickly find the recipe I want.

So this winter, I'm going to try organizing the recipes here. I'm saying this out loud to give me some accountability to get it done. (I won't mention how many winters I have had this goal and never even started the project.) I began with the bread and sourdough recipes. You'll find the bread page and sourdough page have been recently updated. I hope this makes it easier to find a recipe. To cut this project into bite-sized pieces, I plan to choose one topic and make an index post about it. Then I can link to it on the Recipe Page.

I decided to start with Flo's Coffee Cakes. All year we have enjoyed her recipes. Here is a one-stop place to find links for them all. There is not a bad one in the bunch and the only trouble I have is in deciding which one to make for our Christmas brunch.

 
Sour Cream Pumpkin Coffee Cake


Apricot Sunshine Coffee Cake



Raspberry Streusel Coffee Cake


Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake



Peach Coffee Cake



Walnut Orange Coffee Cake

 
Pumpkin Pecan Braid



Apple Coffee Cake



Lemon Raspberry Steusel Coffee Cake



Blueberry Almond Coffee Cake



Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake



Cream-filled Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake



Cherry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

 
Finnish Coffee Cake

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Surrender and Mary the Mother of Jesus

Last spring I wrote about two virtuous women in the Bible. As inspiration hits, I may continue to write about Biblical examples of virtue and Proverbs 31.

“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10)

I wonder what Mary was thinking and doing when the angel visited her. Maybe she was spinning flax while planning the robe she would wear on her wedding day. Maybe she was weaving a warm coverlet, visualizing her new home and its practical furnishings. Maybe she was grinding grain as she planned her wedding meal. Maybe she was kneading bread dough while anticipating the day when her hands would serve meals to her beloved.

Whatever she was doing, if Mary was like most young women, her mind was probably full of dreams for the future. Since she was engaged to marry a godly man, she had many reasons to anticipate happy days to come.

But in a moment, life changed forever for Mary. With the angel's words, “thou art highly favoured,...thou shalt bring forth a son,” Mary's dreams shattered. To mother the Messiah? The Promised One? This incredible honor also meant death to a normal life for a Galilean girl at the brink of marriage.

Mary did not know that this call would bring with it the near divorcement from her betrothed husband. In order to fulfill prophecy she would travel far from Nazareth, first to Bethlehem, then to Egypt. When her baby was only a few days old, she would be told that through this son, a sword would pierce her own soul. She would see her son rejected and die a criminal's death.

Mary questioned how she could be the mother of God's son, but in faith she believed the angel's words “with God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37) 

Mary was willing to allow God to work through her weakness, and her answer was immediate. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38)

All of us have dreams for our future. We paint in vivid colors the plans for our job, trips, wedding, family, and home.  

God doesn't ask many of us to face life-changing surrender like Mary. 

But God does call us to surrender. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Surrender is not a one-time event but a constant turning over my will to God's will.

I'm astounded at Mary's reaction after she has surrendered her dreams to the Lord. Her words are recorded in Luke 1:46-55 as a lovely song glorifying God. This isn't a reluctant, “Yes, Lord, if I must.” This is a joyful surrender embracing God's call with a heart filled of praise.

Praise is not typically my first reaction when my dreams are crushed—even if it is something as small as a child ruining my plans for an afternoon nap. I'd rather sulk than sing, mope than rejoice, complain than celebrate. If I must change my plans, sacrifice my goals, or deny myself pleasure, at least I'd like others to appreciate my sacrifice.

To embrace God's plan for my life with joy—like Mary—will change my attitude from drudgery to blessing.

No wonder virtuous women are so rare they are compared to rubies. But if God can do the impossible, then He can help a self-willed woman like me become a surrendered woman like Mary.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Have you had your dreams changed by God? Have you faced the need to surrender - with joy? Any hints you can share on how to  have a Mary heart of praise?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cookbook Giveaway Winner

Thanks to all of you who entered the Good and Healthy Cooking giveaway. I wish I had a copy for all of you.

Random.org chose the two winners -

Lori from Texas who likes the Basics and More cookbook, Mennonite Country Style cookbook by Esther, and MeMa's Manna Recipes for the Busy Person by Mary Boll.

Linette - who is my friend in real life (I didn't rig this drawing, honest, but I am thrilled that Linette won since she recently bought a mill and started grinding her own wheat!) Linette also likes the Basics and More cookbook, and Mennonite Country Style cookbook and also the Bald Eagle cookbook.

Hope you ladies enjoy your copy of Good and Healthy Cooking!

And special thanks to the Stoltzfus family for allowing us the opportunity of this giveaway.

If you didn't win but want your own copy, visit the Good and Healthy Cooking website to place your order for a paper or ebook copy.

You still have a couple more days of free shipping for orders of two books.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Book Giveaway - Good and Healthy Cooking

I've been wanting to include my children more often in the kitchen. My oldest daughter can follow a recipe rather well. She just needs a little more practice.

But when I give her a recipe, I find myself saying, "I would use less sugar than listed. And replace half the white flour with whole wheat..." and so on. No wonder my daughter got discouraged in the kitchen when her mom can't follow a recipe as directed. Even Ed, who is quite handy in the kitchen, complains that he can't cook anymore because he doesn't know where my recipes are and how I've changed them.

And of course, we all love to see photos of what we are cooking. My children love the cookbooks with pictures. My five-year-old begged me to bring home a children's cookbook she found at the library with all sorts of fun photos of sugar-laden, sprinkle-coated delicacies.


So I was super excited when of the Home Joys' readers, Amanda Stoltzfus, contacted me a few weeks ago and asked if I would review her new cookbook, Good and Healthy Cooking.



"Healthy cooking" can mean different things to different people. If "healthy" to you means splenda, margarine, and low-fat yogurt - then this cookbook is not for you. Amanda cooks with freshly ground whole wheat flour, natural sugars, and raw milk. The recipes in this cookbook contain no white flour, no white sugar, and no hydrogenated oils. If you wondered, like me, what she used for sweeteners, these recipes call for Sucanet, maple syrup, honey, or (rarely) stevia. And of course you can, like me adapt. Don't tell Amanda but I used plain ordinary brown sugar in the recipes that she called for Sucanet. I'm just not to the point of all natural sweeteners yet! Baby steps.


Amanda is a mom and knows how children (and grownups) love photos. Every single recipe in Good and Healthy Cooking was professionally photographed. At least one photo is included for each recipe.

 

Ed looked through the book and mentioned that the recipes call for normal ingredients, nothing exotic. The recipes are simply written and often included variations to make the recipe more versatile. Throughout the book Amanda shares her cooking tips. I especially appreciated her thoughts on "Idealism and Reality." Spiral bound and printed on sturdy paper, this is a book that I look forward to using in the years to come.



I've been trying some of these recipes the last weeks and so far we've enjoyed them all. (Well, my family did say they liked my sourdough waffles better but maybe they were just trying to make me feel good.) I stuck with the breakfast section first, maybe because I've lacked inspiration for breakfast recently. My daughter was pleased to make both the granola and grapenuts. The pancakes were delicious.



Then I had my two oldest children choose a recipe or two from Good and Healthy Cooking to make an evening meal. My son stirred up BBQ meatballs and scalloped potatoes which were both deemed a success. My daughter chose the tortilla lasagna and breadsticks - recipes that are going onto our family favorite list. Right now I'm enjoying the smell of the Creamy White Chicken Chili for tonight's supper.



I haven't even got to the dessert section yet, though there are some promising recipes such as the no bake peanut butter pie or chocolate cherry cheesecake. I know Ed has eyed up the chocolate shoo-fly pie recipe. Maybe I'll save that for his birthday next month.

 

You can see more at the Good and Healthy Cooking website. You can also order your own cookbook there (and notice there is a special until December 15 - free postage when you buy two cookbooks.) The cookbook is also available in ebook format.



Now for the great news. Amanda gave me TWO (2) copies to share with you! 

Write a comment sharing which cookbook you reach for most often and I'll enter you in the giveaway.

Want a second chance to win? I don't normally do this but if you share this giveaway on Facebook and link back here, I'll let you leave a second comment.

Remember to give your email address so I can contact you.

This giveaway will be open until next Monday, December 8, 2014. Giveaway is open to US residents. Winner chosen by Random.org.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Prepare - A Christmas Countdown - Week Eight

If you are like me, you have not yet caught your breath from last week. Our family was away for a few days, then helped with beef butchering on Saturday. Yesterday was a wonderful day of rest but today I worked up some of the beef into some freezer meals so I still am faced with lots of stacks of laundry.

But I'll get caught up eventually and I'm very excited about beginning December. Eight weeks ago when I started this series, I thought I'd be totally prepared for Christmas by now. I'm not. No where close. Between ordinary busy life, unexpected events, and interruptions of all sorts most of my plans that looked attainable on Monday fell apart by Friday.

But if I had not planned at all - I would not have anything done. And it is a good reminder that in all my preparation I should say "As the Lord wills."

Week Eight - Mailing Week - December 1-6

This week my goal is to finish addressing and mailing Christmas cards as well as a few packages. This should give them plenty of time to arrive on time.

I also plan to finish my holiday baking. The children and I had such fun on a baking day early last week and we are looking forward to another one.

My last task this week is to reserve some Christmas books at the library. We have a few favorites we like to read each year.

Preparation in Scripture

I was reading Ephesians 6 last week and noticed a mention of "Preparation."

"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;" (Ephesians 6: 13-15)
This passage of Scripture is talking about preparing for warfare against the enemy of our souls. I like how the Amplified Bible interprets verse 15.

"And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace."  (Ephesians 6:15 Amplified)

Speaking of feet reminds me of Isaiah 52:7.

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!" (Isaiah 52:7)

Our God reigns! That is news worth sharing.

Christmas is to be a time of giving. But too often our giving is to those who already have all they need. Or giving to those who will give back to us. Or giving because we feel under obligation.

Why not look for ways to give the best gift - the gospel of peace through Jesus Christ.

 "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

If we are prepared to share this gift - then we are truly prepared for Christmas.

This is the last week on the Christmas Countdown. From now on you are on your own to finish your preparation and focus on service, worship, and celebration for the remainder of December.

Thanks for joining me the last eight weeks!

I'd love to hear how you plan to share the gospel of peace this month.

Giveaway Winner

Announcing the winner of Footprints on the Ceiling.

Carie - who describes herself as a "silent follower." 

So glad that you broke the silence this time, Carie!

The rest of you can get your own copy of Footprints on the Ceiling from Amazon (including a kindle version) or directly from Dorcas.  You can mail a check ($15 per book, postage included) to Dorcas Smucker, 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446.  US addresses only.  To send a copy to Canada or overseas, email Dorcas at dorcassmucker@gmail.com


Thanks to all who participated in the giveaway. I loved hearing how you met your husbands.


Look for another book giveaway this week!

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