Thursday, November 29, 2012

When the going gets tough.....

What do you do when the going gets tough?  I've got several bad habits (eating bad for you foods, spending money I really don't have, pity parties) that I always seem to steer towards first.  Some not as bad like baking, crafting, cranking the music up really loud or taking a dip into the hot tub. As I'm getting older I find that I am turning more quickly to the Lord... I only have day long pity parties instead of week (or month, or year) long ones. My ultimate goal is to seek Him first and foremost and I am forever thankful that God is patient with me.

I had Bible study today in which we wrapped up the book of Ecclesiastes. An excellent study and it was not anything that I had anticipated it would be.  The first time I read Ecclesiastes I saw it as being depressing but now I see it as one of the best Bible books on hope!  For me there is just nothing more reassuring to know that there is nothing new under the sun.  What I've struggled with are basically the same struggles everyone has dealt with since sin entered the world.  It stinks to know that others are hurting, but there is also that comfort in knowing that I'm not alone.

Right now I'm going through a rough patch.  The kids are all going through various struggles, hubby is stressed out over his job, my own health issues... blah. It is just hard feeling for me to get over the funk this time.  When we were kids we often used the term "Indian Giver" when ever someone took back something that they had given you.  I'm very much like that with God.  I'm an "Indian Giver."  I give God my struggles and then take them right back (because I want to control things.... yeah people, I'm a control freak) Trust is a hard to have when His ways aren't always the ways that my eyes see best.  I know the truth.  His ways are not are ways and sometimes its just best for me if the answer is No or wait.  I don't think there are certain things that I can do and yes, I am bold enough to tell God that! I can think of several areas in my life, past and present, where I can say that I was not the right person for the job God gave me.  There was something I read in this week's study:
God doesn't want our ability He wants our availability.
It is when I struggle, feel at my weakest and uncertain that I cling to God. The situations I'm going through cause me to cling (eventually!) to God. He isn't looking for me to know all the answers, He knows the right answers.  It doesn't matter if I don't know what I'm doing as He knows what He's doing.  He just wants me to be available to Him.

There is no quick fix or witty wording that I give that will tell you how to conquer this issue.  I will continue to Trust in God (even if it takes me time to get there) and continue to move forward.  What do you do when the going gets tough? Is there a favorite comfort food you seek out? A hobby you dive in to? Song or artist you listen to?  I would love to hear about it.

As I mentioned, I find baking very comforting and its a blessing to be able to turn around and give the baked items away to someone.  Here is a recipe I like to whip up when I'm feeling down:

I no longer remember where I got this recipe from. It has been in my MasterCook program for... well, ever since MC came out! This is one of my favorite cookies as they remind me of brownie bites. I've seen other recipes for Mud Puddle Cookies, but they are not the same as these cookies. I'm guessing that the creator of these cookies named them mud puddles because of their soft center.

It took me several attempts at these cookies before realizing that the centers, of the cookie, were designed to be soft, with a fudge brownie type consistency. At first I thought that they were not being cooked long enough but getting the centers to be less soft caused the outer edges to be well over done. The texture in the center is so different from the outer edges that it isn't uncommon for me to have to explain that these cookies are not under-cooked  They are quite addictive and once people get used to the texture, it is hard to keep them away from them.

Mud Puddle Cookies

1/4 cup butter
2 cups milk chocolate chips
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons milk


Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt butter and chocolate chips in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat.

Add condensed milk and stir until smooth. Add flour and mix well. The dough will be soft like brownie batter would be.

Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls. Place dough 1-inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. I like to use my silicon baking sheets to prevent sticking. Bake for 8 minutes. 
Cool completely

Meanwhile combine powered sugar and vanilla in small bowl. Gradually stir in enough milk for desired glazing consistency. Drizzle over cookies
This recipe yields 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Come follow me.....

I'm pretty far behind on the blog but Life is getting better.  I'll still be posting on this blog but I've started a new blog that I hope will eventually transition this blog into.
Living through life (with interruptions)   I'll be showcasing food, crafts and ministry ideas.
Hope you faithful followers will join me there.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving!

As I am getting older, I am getting better about handling the holidays. Any of you ever see the movie, "Christmas Vacation"? There is one scene where the husband and wife are discussing holiday guests and expectations... Here is the movie quote:

Ellen: You set standards that no family activity can live up to. 
Clark: When have I ever done that? 
Ellen: Parties, weddings, anniversaries, funerals, holidays... 
Clark: Goodnight Ellen 
Ellen: Vacations, graduations... 
 I must admit that I have suffered from what I've dubbed, "Hallmark Movie-itis."  I wanted everything to be perfect.  I mean, really, is it so much to ask for one holiday to be drama free, family all loving towards one another and no selfish attitudes??  Yep, Vivian (so I say to myself) it is an awful lot to ask for.  See, the world isn't perfect and we aren't perfect people.  Sin entered into the world and thus we have imperfect people.  I have my very own selfish attitude, drama moments and unloving acts that I do. I'm afraid that I don't meet any other persons expectations of how they want THEIR holiday to be.
I'm not saying that I still wish for that perfect holiday but now I am more relaxed and allow people to be who they really are.  Part of the problem is I lack the ability to be in control of every situation (and I absolutely HATE that I am not... but thankfully God knows I would only make a mess of it any way so he keeps that ability to Himself!) So I am learning to be in control of the things I can control - My behavior. How do I choose to respond to each and every behavior I face; that's what I can control.  Does it make everything jolly? Nah, I would be lying if I said it did.  But it does take 98.9% of the expectations I have for others away from me.  That in itself allows me to have a fairly stress free holiday.  So my prayer for you is that you control the things you can and give God the rest of it.  Love your family, quirks and all and appreciate the fact that God gives us reason to celebrate.  

Thanksgiving in our home wouldn't be complete without the Macy's Parade and little smokies wrapped in crescent rolls.  My kids would be horrified if I didn't have those smokies! Perhaps the husband would be too...but he wouldn't admit to that!   My daughter has decided that another dish has to make it into the must-have category,  Butternut Squash Bake.  When I was part of the Secret Recipe Club, I discovered this fantastic recipe.  It really is quite delicious!

Butternut Squash Bake
adapted from Debbi Does Dinner Healthy
1 large butternut squash, about 2 pounds, peeled and cubed (I used some squash that I had roasted and stored in my freezer.)
1/2 cup mayonnaise                                                    
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1 egg
15 Ritz Crackers, crushed
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon fresh oregano,  chopped fine
salt and pepper

Heat a large pot of water to boiling, ad squash and cook until soft, about 15-20 minutes. If using frozen squash, thaw and drain liquid. 
In a small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter; add in crushed crackers, cheese and oregano.  Season with salt and pepper; stir well.  Remove from heat and set aside.
Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in another small saucepan; cook onion until translucent and just beginning to brown; add garlic, saute for a few more minutes and remove from heat.
When the squash is cooked, drain the water and toss the squash in a bowl.  Add mayonnaise, onion, garlic, hot sauce and egg. Mash together well. 

Pour into an 8x8-inch pan or casserole dish; top with cracker cheese mixture and cover with foil.  Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees F.  Remove foil and bake for an additional five minutes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gratitude Attitude

Gratitude becomes a bit of a catch phrase this time of the year.  November, after all, is the time when we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, so I guess it is perfectly fitting.  However,  I wonder how many of us see gratitude as an attitude we should be having ever day? I'm guilty of not having the gratitude attitude. Sure I'm thankful for my family, house, food... all the things we have.  What I struggle with is being thankful for the things I'm not so happy with.  Medical bills, health problems, personal issues, meal planning (sorry, I had to throw that one in because I absolutely HATE having to come up with an idea for dinner! See how bad my attitude is?!).  I can tell you all the right things I should be feeling: medical bills? be thankful that you had medical care. Health problems? Be thankful that they aren't worse. Personal issues? Bah... who doesn't have those? Be thankful you HAVE family to complain about.  Oh, and meal planning?  Seriously??? If only others were so blessed that they only had to look inside a full freezer and figure out what to make!
The sad truth is though, I know the right things in my head but don't feel them in my heart.  Our pastor tells us that the longest distance in the world is that from your brain to your heart.  I believe this to be true because it seems to take forever for my heart to live the truth that my brain knows.
So how does one go about having a gratitude attitude?  Have you ever done a Google search for gratitude?You will find everything from books written on the subject to cute little journals you can make. But for me it is has to simply be just choosing to be grateful.  I don't want my gratitude to be words I write down in a journal, I want it to be an action in my life. While I will take the time tomorrow to especially reflect on all my blessings, I especially want to remember all those things that aren't such, "happy happy joy joy" blessings.  God truly is good and has been amazingly good to me and my family.  I have some pretty tough things in my life but the fact of the matter is nothing is so difficult or big that My God isn't bigger than.  For me, knowing just that, gives me a gratitude attitude!

Monday, November 19, 2012

and so it begins.....

     Welcome to my blog. I'm trying to phase out another blog I had ( had going all about food and thought that I would remain silent. Writing must be in my blood though (not grammar so please be kind!) as I find solace through writing. I don't think I have anything exactly profound to say... maybe it won't even be interesting to any one else but me...But I went to bed last night with this thought of a new Bible study I will be leading by Priscilla Shirer, on the book of Jonah.  I just love the title of her book; Life Interrupted:Navigating the Unexpected.  That is and has been my life in a nutshell...Life interrupted... the unexpected...
      My life is typical of everyone else's life.  As the book of Ecclesiastes has taught me, there is nothing new under the sun.  Will my life may have different twists than yours, I also know that your life has been its own fun filled twisted journey.  We go through our lives facing the unexpected.  Sometimes those unexpected things are just a minor glitch while other times they are a major interruption!
     This past year has been one interruption after another: Three surgeries in seven months, a child going through divorce, medical bills, adult children moving back home (one hasn't left yet as he has Asperger's Syndrome, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, OCD and the list goes on).  Chaos abounds most days but I know that God is strong enough to handle everything!
     I'm married 27 years to the most amazing man(such a cliche, I know. But he really is!) and have three grown children plus one absolutely adorable grand sweetie.  The oldest is one of two sons and is looking for employment. Our middle child is the lone daughter and then there is our youngest who is the remaining son.
     My husband and I are part of several ministries in our church.  We are especially active in children's ministries where together we teach the First and Second grade Sunday school class.  Love love love those kids, 'nuff said :-)  I also direct our weekly preschool AWANA Cubbies program, run the nursery, teach Bible studies and do whatever else God leads me to.
Part of the fun of teaching is decorating the classroom.  We change it up a few times a year but here are some pics of the classroom decorated right now:

idea from Pinterest
     I'm so excited about starting this blog... I look forward to meeting with those who choose to join me on this crazy ride!
Galatians 5:5