Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hope in the Secret Places

It has been rather silent here. I think of dozens of topics to write about - but somehow the day runs out before the words do. We are pushing to get the last weeks of school finished before warm weather hits. But otherwise, I don't have much to show for my days. That endless cycle of dishes, laundry, cleaning, and diapers.

The photo above is the sunset last night. Yes, we had more snow. As my daughter said, "I have to admit that the snow is pretty, but I wouldn't care if it didn't snow for a long time."

We made it through the winter with hardly more than a sniffle but the last week we were hit with some bad colds and coughs. A sick baby makes mom's nights short. (Or long - depending upon your perspective of seeing every hour.) I was spoiled to have a two month old that slept 8-10 hours a night. She is feeling better now so I'm hoping she goes back to her night routine.

I have been reading through Isaiah. (Very slowly. My Bible is prompted up on the arm of the couch and I try to read a few verses while feeding the baby. Sometimes I find myself reading the same chapter for the third or fourth time.) There seems to be so many needs - in my own life, in my children, in my friends - and I am drinking in the encouragement. Numerous times in the middle chapters of the book it talks of God forming us and knowing us in our mother's womb. Amidst all the unknowns - God knows.

Two verses that were extra special to me this week.

Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:

Isaiah 45:3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.

When I am thirsty, He refreshes.

When I am weary of mothering, He pours blessing on my offspring.

When in darkness, He gives treasures - secret riches.

That I may know Him.

And a tired mother is rich with hope.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Flo's Cakes - Walnut Orange Coffee Cake

Walnut Orange Coffee Cake

1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 ½ cups orange juice
½ cup butter
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 ¾ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 TBSP grated orange peel

1 ½ cups brown sugar
¾ cup butter
3 TBSP grated orange peel
3 TBSP orange juice
3 cups flaked coconut
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts

In a small bowl, stir oats and orange juice until softened; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars; beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; add to the creamed mixture alternately with oat mixture. Stir in walnuts and orange peel. Pour into a greased 13x9 pan. Bake at 350˚ for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, orange peel and juice. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat; stir in coconut and walnuts. Gently spread over warm cake. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 2 minutes or until the topping is bubbly.

Florence lives in the northwoods of Michigan with her husband and three preschoolers. Her hobbies are writing and baking coffee cakes. A few  months ago she published a book titled My First Deer Hunt. This is a children’s story about the time her husband took their oldest son (then four-years-old) to the woods for his first hunting trip.  Email Flo at foxden

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Beef Vegetable Soup

We had more snow again yesterday.

So I guess I'll keep on dreaming of spring.

And making soup.

I love vegetable soup and just realized I don't have a recipe on Home Joys for this classic.

I like to cook a big roast. (Here is a good recipe.) Then with the leftovers I make french onion soup with the broth and vegetable soup with the meat. I loved meals that make great leftovers!

Beef Vegetable Soup

1 onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 quart tomato juice
1 quart water or beef broth
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced potatoes
2 cups corn
2 cups green beans
2-4 cups cooked, diced beef
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp parsley
1 quart chopped cabbage

Saute onion in oil until lightly browned. Add garlic and saute for one additional minute. Add all remaining ingredients except cabbage. Bring to boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add cabbage. Simmer until all vegetables are tender - about 15 more minutes. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Thanks...for Praying

Thanks so much for all your prayers for Tarica. Several of you have asked for an update. After testing for various things (including very scary things like brain tumors) the doctors have determined that she has epilepsy. Here is an excerpt from an email from Stephanie.

So she has epilepsy. They don't know why it roared out of nowhere. They don't know what caused it. But they are hoping to be able to control the seizures with medication...

I can't believe how relieved I feel about an epilepsy diagnosis. If you had told me a week ago I would have an epileptic child, I would have been horrified. But after considering the worst and after the horrible 12 hours on Tuesday, epilepsy looks manageable. Complicated, in many respects, but manageable.

Thanks for all your prayers. May I ask you to continue to lift us up to the throne of grace? There is a new normal to find and recuperation from a very rough week.

God has been faithful and will continue to be so.

The last email I received from Stephanie said that Tarica was not reacting well to some of the medication. Can you please continue to pray for Tarica and her family?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Flo's Cakes - Apple Coffee Cake


Apple Coffee Cake
Shared by Florence Fox

This coffee cake recipe came from a friend. I changed it slightly to suit my tastes, and now consider it my favorite apple coffee cake. 
1 box yellow cake mix
1 (20 oz) apple pie filling
3 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

 ½ cup flour
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter, melted
½ cup oatmeal
1 cup mini butterscotch chips

1 cup powdered sugar
1 ½ TBSP butter, melted
2 tsp lemon juice

Mix all cake ingredients together and pour in greased 9x13 pan. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350˚ for 45 minutes. When cool, mix glaze ingredients and drizzle over cake. 

Note from Gina:
I didn't have a cake mix so I substituted my own homemade mix. 

2 1/3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
Mix all the dry ingredients together. Cut in butter. Use as directed in any recipe calling for a white or yellow cake mix. The results in this coffee cake were excellent.

Florence lives in the northwoods of Michigan with her husband and three preschoolers. Her hobbies are writing and baking coffee cakes. A few  months ago she published a book titled My First Deer Hunt. This is a children’s story about the time her husband took their oldest son (then four-years-old) to the woods for his first hunting trip.  Email Flo at foxden

Thursday, March 13, 2014

In the Garden

I had planned to share a guest post from Stephanie Leinbach this week. But after the events of the last few days, it felt even more important. Please scroll all the way down to the bottom to read an urgent prayer request.

In the Garden

We raced against the sunset, robins squabbling in the pines over their night roosts, fireflies rising from the grass with lanterns flaring.
Pausing to straighten and unkink his back, my husband said, “I remember pulling weeds when I was young.”
I looked at him across the rows of knee-high corn. “Me, too. Did you complain about it like I did?”
“Well, actually, I remember thinking I couldn’t wait until I grew up, so I wouldn’t have to pull weeds.”
I laughed. “Then what are you doing out here?”
“Pulling weeds,” he muttered, getting back to work. “I can plow and plant, no problem, but I will never like this part of gardening.”
Our girls, newly freed from weeding duties, burst out from under a nearby pine tree, tiny cones piled in their hands. “Who wants to buy pine cones?” the five-year-old asked. “They cost fifty dollars.”
“Fifty dollars!” I yanked at a stubborn weed. “That’s too much money for me.”
“What about five dollars?” She looked hopeful.
“Sure, but I don’t have my wallet.”
“I have it.” She waved an imaginary wallet. “I’ll take five dollars out of it.” She wandered over to her father. “Do you want some money, Dad?”
“No, I don’t want any money right now.” He tossed a handful of weeds down. “Do you know what I really want from you?”
She didn’t hesitate. “Obedience,” she said and shot beneath the pine tree before her declaration was tested.
Her word hung in the air, and I pulled more weeds to its echo.
Obedience. What I really want from you.
I sat back on my heels, dusting off my hands, and watched the light fade behind Brush Mountain. Obedience. It’s what You really want from me, God. Remind me again of Your commands.
Gently, the Word unfolded in my heart: Love God with all thy heart. In everything give thanks. Pray without ceasing.
I winced. Truth hurts.
Wives, submit. Rejoice evermore. Love thy neighbor as thyself.
The unchanging Word washed over my weary soul. I was convicted and renewed all at once.
Laughing and shrieking, the girls raced past me, caught up in another invented game. “Come, girls,” I called, getting to my feet. “It’s time for baths and bed.”
As I herded my little flock toward the house, I pondered the life-changing power of simple obedience. Simple, but so hard.
Do you know what I really want from you? His voice still probed my heart.
Obedience, Lord.
I drew a deep breath of the growing darkness, watching the girls chasing fireflies, dancing with arms outstretched to the starry heavens. Thank You, Lord.
My husband fell into step beside me. “Why are you smiling?” he asked.
I looked from the girls to him, gratefulness warming my heart. “I just realized God likes to teach lessons on obedience in a garden.”

 Nearly nine years ago, Stephanie married the best man at her wedding, and since the two of them are opposites in almost every way possible, there hasn’t been a dull moment in over 3,127 days. They live on the side of Brush Mountain in central Pennsylvania. God has blessed them with three children to raise for Him and three children safely in heaven. Stephanie is the author of Light My Candle, Prayers in the Darkness of Miscarriage. You can contact her at lightmycandle @ Or check out her blog.

Note from Gina: A few days ago, Stephanie's four year old daughter Tarica began having seizures. One was so bad that she went unconscious. They are now at the Pittsburgh Children's Hospital. Tarica reacted badly to the first anti-seizure medication going into hallucinations. Please pray that they can stop Tarica's seizures and find out why they are occurring. I'm sure all you parents can imagine how scared Linford and Stephanie are at this point.  Let's hold them up in prayer.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Breakfast Pizza

This weekend, I served breakfast pizza at a brunch. I had forgotten how much we love breakfast pizza as I had not made it in years.

My mom always makes breakfast pizza on our hog butchering day. I probably don't make it because I don't typically get up early enough in the morning to make a yeast dough before breakfast. But it would be simple to put dough in the fridge the night before. If I had my meat pre-cooked and some leftover baked potatoes, it would be easy to assemble. In other words- if I just would get my act together we could enjoy breakfast pizza more often!

Or maybe I should just make it for supper!

This recipe is very adaptable. Feel free to add mushrooms, peppers, or whatever toppings you prefer. I use my mom's easy pizza crust recipe but you can use frozen bread dough or any other pizza crust.

Breakfast Pizza

1 lb sausage, cooked and crumbled, or ham or bacon
1 pizza crust, unbaked
2 cup shredded baked potatoes
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Parmesan cheese

Spread pizza crust dough in large (11x17) pan. Sprinkle meat over crust, sprinkle with potatoes and top with cheese. In bowl, beat together eggs and seasonings. Pour over crust. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes. Serve with ketchup if desired.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Flo's Cakes - Lemon Raspberry Streusel Coffee Cake

Lemon Raspberry Streusel Coffee Cake
Shared by Florence Fox

Another recipe I found in a Taste of Home cookbook, and one of the best! 

1/3 cup shortening

1/3 cup butter

1 ¼ cups sugar

3 eggs

½ tsp almond extract

2 ¼ cups flour

1 ¼ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese

½ cup lemon curd

½ cup seedless raspberry jam

1 cup fresh raspberries


2/3 cup flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup sliced almonds

¼ cup cold butter


1 cup powdered sugar

4 tsp lemon juice

In a large bowl, cream the shortening, butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and extract. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Set aside 1 cup batter.

Spread remaining batter into a greased 13x9 baking pan. Combine the cream cheese and lemon curd; spoon over batter. In a small bowl, beat jam; stir in raspberries. Drop by tablespoonfuls over lemon mixture. Drop reserved batter by tablespoonfuls over top.

For streusel, in a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar and almonds. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.

Bake the cake at 350˚ for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Combine icing ingredients; drizzle over cake.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hope for snowy days

Outside there is a fresh snowfall today.

But inside, hope springs anew.

A week or two ago I shuffled through the snow to our forsythia bush and cut off a few branches. I placed the bare sticks on our mantle. This weekend those dead looking sticks burst into bloom.

And I am reminded again of hope. There is life buried under the snow. There is a future filled with life, beauty, and warmth. Spring will come again.

God's promise is true.  "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." (Genesis 8:22)

And isn't that where all hope is found?

In God.

In His Word.

"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." (Romans 15:4)

Because when I look around me, I don't see much reason for hope. Certainly not in my failures, in my selfish heart, and not in this barren world.

These are some of the words of hope, God's words of truth that I'm thinking on today.

"Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD." (Psalm 31:24)

"Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." (Psalm 43:5)

 "Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word."  (Psalm 119:114)

 "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)

Spring. New life. The resurrection.

There is real Hope.



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