Monthly Archives: September 2015

I Read the Bible!

I read the Bible.  No, I mean, I read the Bible.  Not just the little snippets that went along with my devotional for the day.  Not the ten minutes that I usually spend, I read the Bible.  Start to finish in only 88 days!  I feel like I’ve climbed Mount Everest.  I set out on a journey and I completed it.  I honestly can’t believe I did it, but I did!

I bought myself a new Bible, “Read the Bible in 90 days.”  It sat in my closet for a while and then I gave it to my husband to wrap and to give it to me as a Christmas gift.  So, I received it on December 25, 2014 and I began my 90 day plan on January 1, 2015.  I read it every. single. day.  Starting in Genesis and ending in Revelation.  And, I did it in only 88 days!  The Bible stated on the cover that it was a 90 day plan, but it gave you 2 days off.  I can sincerely say it was a great 88 days.  It took about 45 minutes a day to complete and some days I was a bit behind, so i had to spend a little longer, but I did it!

When I would share with people that I was reading the Bible, I would emphasize that I was “reading” it and not studying it.  By completing this, I found that it has only brought me to an understanding of how little I truly know. Though I have always said “I read the Bible,” I started reading my Bible daily in August of 2003.  I attended a small country church service in Lawsonham, PA and the lay speaker challenged us to read the Bible every day, so I did.  I would read a passage from here and then jump to another part and I would circle in pencil the selections I chose.  I didn’t get the whole Bible circled because quite honestly, who wants to read Numbers?  And, who’s even heard of Habakkuk?

I, like many people, have a variety of Bibles in my home.  Different versions, some with notes, some with pictures, some with leather covers.  I don’t know how many I even own and each individual in my home has their own copies.  So, with a book so present in our home, why haven’t I read the entire thing sooner?  I guess for me it took a plan and a decision.

My kindle version of the Bible says, “Holy Bible, New International Version, is the world’s best-selling modern translation, with over 150 million copies in print since its first full publication in 1978.This highly accurate and smooth-reading version of the Bible in modern English has the largest library of printed and electronic support material of any modern translation.”  Now….wait for it…1,152 Pages.  OK, so there’s one reason I never planned to read the whole thing.  Most of the books I choose to read are 300 pages or less.  And, here’s another Kindle fact for you.  Typical time to read?  64 hours and 46 minutes.  What does that number mean to you?  If you want to, you can read the entire Bible on your next vacation…7 days, read for 9 hours/day, not your typical vacation read.  However, you can read the entire Bible in a year by investing only 10.65 minutes a day.  Do we spend 10.65 minutes per day doing something else?  Do we spend it doing nothing?  I’m sure I spend more time than that looking for my half empty cup of cold tea or the TV remote. Sadly, we Americans just don’t read it.  A 2013 study showed that 88% of respondents owned a Bible, 80% think it is sacred and 61% wish they read it more.

It’s really pretty simple.  You own a Bible, you have 10.65 minutes, you can read it or take 5.325 minutes a day and complete it in 2 years.  NOW, to be honest, I began reading the Bible daily in 2003, and I finished reading the entire thing in 2015.  It took me 12 years to read the whole thing, but it only took 88 days when I committed to do it.  How long will it take you?  Regardless of how long it takes, I pray that you will attempt it. It’s on the best sellers list with an estimated 5 Billion copies sold. The various authors of it have something specific to share with you.  Let them share.

So, what did I learn?  That I knew a LOT of scripture because I know a lot of hymns.  Did you know some of them were word for word from scripture?  That the majority of the Bible Stories that I learned as a kid were found in Genesis!  Who knew?  That book is chock full of drama!  That there is a LOT of violence.  Lots of beheading and gnashing of teeth.  That there is some really silly stuff, dogs returning to their vomit, ________

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Filed under Inspirational, Reading, Scriptures

Crock Pot Apple Butter

Thank you Mrs. Hall for sharing this recipe with Lori’s Second Grade Class in the fall of 1999!  I’ve used it many times and am always impressed with the results!

Crock Pot Apple Butter

8 C Applesauce (You can buy 2 48oz Jars!)

3 1/2 C Sugar

1/2 C Vinegar

2 tsp. Cinnamon

1 tsp Cloves

1 tsp Allspice

Put all ingredients in crock pot on high for 4 1/2 to 5 hours or until thick.  Leave lid off crock pot.  Stir occasionally as it thickens up.

It’s as simple as that!  Enjoy!

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Making Apple Butter

The sun is shining and the temperature is warm, but the evenings cool and it is evident that Autumn is officially here.  What that means is  different things for different people and they certainly change over the years.  Some describe Fall with colorful leaves, football season, & bonfires.  Others love to don cuddly sweatshirts and return to school.  To some, Harvest truly means harvest. Farmers still gather crops. Many others purchase those crops and can or freeze them for use throughout the winter.  However, some even take the time to make a harvest of apples and turn them into apple butter.

I remember as a kid being present for “Apple Butter Day.”  A day where friends and family gathered around a fire that had a copper kettle on it and it was filled with sloshy apple bits and spices.  The smoke would flavor the apple sauce a bit and would occasionally burn my eyes.  The adults would use a giant paddle to stir and they would stir it…all…day…long.  Long after the novelty of stirring apple butter wore off, we were still stirring.  Small children were allowed to hold the handle of the paddle to assist an adult, but the tedious chore was passed from adult to adult all day long.  The entire time stories of other batches of apple butter were shared.

In this day and age, rarely do you hear of a gathering where busy people want to take 10-12 hours out of their day to stand around a fire to stir apple sauce and spices until it becomes apple butter.  Wouldn’t it be easier to buy jelly for your toast instead of opening a mason jar of the home made apple butter?  Oh yes, it would be easier, but what memory would that evoke?  Probably none and certainly not anything special.

Today after paring apples to take to Chicora United Methodists Apple Butter Day on Saturday, I signed on to be greeted by a friend’s post.  It was a photo of an old newspaper clipping of a woman churning apple butter.  The caption read, “It takes a hot fire, strong arms and plenty of patience to make apple butter.”  It also stated, ” The tedious process which involved boiling water from crushed apples took nearly 10 hours.”  I was so excited to put a picture to a memory. A different copper kettle, a different place, & a different group of people but the same experience.

I shared that picture on my Facebook wall and a cousin that I don’t see very often anymore responded quickly with a comment. “Do you remember when they set up the big kettle in g-ma and g-pa’s driveway to make apple butter? I have a faint, dusty memory of it…”

I feel blessed to have these memories of simpler times and days that weren’t quite as full of activities.  I also feel blessed to have a church that is willing to remind us of those times.  I look forward to taking my turn with the paddle, hearing the stories and of course, buttering my toast on Sunday morning with fresh made apple butter. If you are local, please stop by!

Note: Stay tuned for my next post where I will share how you can make Crock Pot apple butter!

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Last week I had the opportunity to meet up with a dear friend.  She and I have been friends for almost 20 years and though we live in separate states, we continue to make every effort we can to stay in touch on a really deep level.  She is one that I confide in and share everything with.  And, she’s a safe friend to do that with given that she is not around here and hasn’t formed her own opinions of the situations in my life.

Anyhow, last week we spent over four hours sitting at a Bob Evans restaurant that was a halfway meeting point for both of our drives.  (Thank you dear waitress for tolerating us.  We hope your tip showed our appreciation.)  In the course of our conversation we laughed at how many times we tend to quote each other and share the wisdom provided by the other.  People who have never even met her say things like, “Well, What does Suzanne think you should do?” and “Didn’t your friend Suzanne once suggest this or that?”  What a gift.

At the end of our visits I am always energized and encouraged.  I have spent the visit sharing, heeding advice and learning.  She is a wise soul.  But, the thing that I treasure most about her is what she pointed out to me years ago.

On one of our lengthy phone conversations, I went on and on telling her about the melodrama that I call my life and she input a few “un-huhs” and “oh I see”s.  I rambled on and on and after I hung up, I wondered why she would even be my friend.  Why would someone let me go on like that?  When I asked her about it, she simply replied, “I’m a listener.”  Seriously?!  A Listener?  Some people are listeners and they are comfortable in that role?  What a light bulb moment for me. I’m a talker (& writer, obviously) and others are listeners.  Isn’t that a blessing?  I am so appreciative of others who have different gifts and talents.  She’s a listener.  I’m a talker.  Some listeners may shake their heads at talkers and think, “Why would she share that?”, but I hope not.  I hope that we can both learn from the other.  I hope that my talking and sharing encourages someone who listens and I promise you that your listening encourages me.  Thank you sweet listeners of the world!

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Lean and Stand

I was blessed to be raised by a mother who played the piano.  She played out of the hymn book often and sang along the message that was in them.  I grew up learning to play the piano and hymns and eventually became our church organist.  Though I am not as talented as my mom and I can’t sing and play at the same time, the message of those hymns resonates in me.  I can hear the congregation singing in the background of my mind and at odd times, times when I need to hear them, the voices are plain and melodious.

Last week as I was rushing around and looking at a million situations, I was thinking, “What should I do? What should I do? What should I do?”  That still, small voice, actually, it was that voices of elders from the church I grew up in singing, started instructing me:

“What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms;

What a blessedness, what a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, Leaning (if you know the song and sang it as a kid, add in a low voice – leaning on Jesus, leaning on Jesus) safe and secure from all alarms, Leaning, Leaning , leaning on the everlasting arms.”

Wow.  What should I do? Lean?  Sounds easy enough, but it’s harder than you think.  We are a society of do-ers, not leaners!  As I thought about that, another hymn popped into my thoughts.

“Standing on the promises of Christ my King, through eternal ages, let his praises ring, glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,

Standing on the promises of God.

Standing, Standing (again, if you know the hymn, you would be singing Standing on the promises, standing on the promises,) Standing on the promises of God my Savior; Standing, Standing, I’m standing, on the promises of God.”

Leaning and Standing?  Where’s the Running around like a chicken with your head cut off part?  Where’s the fixing, working, rushing, begging, pleading, doing, wondering part?

OK, so the next time my mind starts racing and asking “What should I do? What should I do? I hope I pause and sing along with those wise hymn singers in my head and simply Lean and Stand.  I hope you will too.

“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides across the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” –Deuteronomy 33:26-27
“..who are standing here with us today in the presence of the Lord our God but also with those who are not here today.”   –Deuteronomy 29:15

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Filed under Devotionals, Inspirational, Scriptures

Salted Caramel Sauce Makes the Mark!

We all see recipes on our computers and in magazines all the time and many times we try them….and many times, they do not turn out the way we hope.  However, I decided to give Sally’s Baking Addiction‘s recipe for Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce a try.  It was so simple I made two batches over the same weekend.  Great with Apple Slices or pretzels!


1 C Sugar

6 TBS Salted butter, cut up into 6 pieces

1/2 C Heavy Cream

1 tsp Salt

Heat sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir.  Be careful not to burn.

Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. (Careful: caramel will bubble when butter is added.)

Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes.

Very slowly, add Heavy Cream while stirring. (Careful again:  may bubble or splatter at this stage.)

Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and stir in salt.  Allow to cool down before using.

Note: You can make this caramel sauce in advance.  Make sure it is covered tightly and store it for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.  Warm the caramel up for a few seconds before using in a recipe.  This caramel is OK at room temperature for a day if you’re traveling or gifting it.

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Back to School Meals

When my son started Kindergarten over 20 years ago, I started a tradition that has stood up to the test of time.  Back to School Meals.  Each year, my kids get to select a meal for back to school.  We started with the youngest on the first day, the next youngest got to pick the second day, the third youngest and so on.  It was a huge help for me as a Mom to have someone else plan out the menu and it was always entertaining.

One year my daughter went with a Circle Themed meal.  Circle Soup (canned chicken O’Noodle Soup), Ritz Crackers and Oreos for dessert.  What a blessing that was for the hectic first day of school.  My son usually opted for Steak and Baked Potatoes with toppings and another daughter could be counted on for Chicken Breasts and Stove Top Stuffing.  And, if you happened to have a night that corresponded with a music lesson out of town, you got to pick the restaurant, another bonus.

I LOVE this tradition and plan to continue it until the only one returning to school is me and my “school” may equate to reading a new novel or attending a Drivers’ Safety Course for the elderly.  This year, my only two children at home did not disappoint.

Day #1 – K – chose Spaghetti with meatballs, tossed salad, garlic bread and Ice Cream Cake for dessert.  Day #2 – P –chose “Chicken on the Bone” (Chicken Drumsticks, I usually only buy chicken breasts), Mashed Potatoes out of a box, and peas and going out for ice cream for dessert.

Pretty simple requests.  Pretty decent meals and a lot of joy sitting around the table discussing the first days of school. Since my Ice Cream Cake is a hit with many people and is often what my kids choose instead of a traditional Birthday Cake, I thought I’d share the recipe.  This recipe is compliments of a Tupperware Catalog years ago!  (I believe you are supposed to prepare this recipe in a 12” Large Pie Carrier with a red seal.)

Cream Filled Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream Pie

1 16 oz pkg cookies (Oreos!)

1/4 C Butter melted

½ gallon Vanilla Ice Cream, softened

1 10 oz jar chocolate fudge topping

1 12 oz container whipped topping

Mix crushed cookies with melted butter.  Press into the bottom of a container (9×13 or 12” round.) Spread ice cream over top of cookies.  Pour fudge topping in even layer over ice cream.  Spread whipped topping over fudge. Garnish with chocolate curls or cookies if desired.  Put in freezer for at least two hours.

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Filed under family, Little Kids, Parenting, Recipes

Back to School Bible Verse of the Week

Walk with the wise, and become wise for a friend of fools suffers harm. – Proverbs 13:20

My kids have gone back to school…..(I’ll try not to add the word “finally.”)  But, my kids have gone back to school…FINALLY.  It seems like the last week of summer vacation is always the worst.  It makes them returning to academia kind of bitter sweet.  Yes, I’ll miss the lazy days of summer, but there are some things I won’t miss! (The bickering, squabbling, etc…..But, I digress.)

So, the start of school always inspires the start of new traditions.  A time of new habits, new hopes and this year is no different.  I want to start the school year off with a new Bible verse of the week to help them in their school success.  I selected Proverbs 13:20 because once the home room bell rings, the drama will begin with the friends.  Some new, some old, but all have changed a bit over summer.  In Kindergarten everyone is “friends” with everyone…the teacher insists on it, but as the kids grow up, you find they will begin selecting their own friends and it may not be dependent on the proximity of their desk.  (In First grade, your best friend is usually the kid sitting one desk from yours in any direction.  You have a pool of 4 kids to choose from unless you branch out to those sitting diagonally too!)

My kids head off to school and have lots of choices to make.  What to wear on the first day, should they pack or buy lunch and who will be their friend and also the person who will influence all their decisions.  Scary thought, but very true.  So, this week…Week #1, we will focus on choosing wise friends to help them become wise because if they choose to be a friend of fools, they will suffer harm.  It is my prayer that my children will choose wise and better yet, I pray they will be the wise friend chosen by others.

Walk with the wise, and become wise for a friend of fools suffers harm. – Proverbs 13:20

Also for my kids the incentive to concentrate on this verse is the ability to earn $1 if you can memorize it!  Good Luck!

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Filed under family, Inspirational, Little Kids, Parenting, Scriptures

Thoughts Caught on the Keys

First I hear someone in the living room.  I hear a tentative plunk on a single key of the piano.  A single note.  Someone’s in there.  We used to have a cat that would sometimes explore the ivories, but that cat is long gone.  I hear another single note.  It is definitely one of my daughters.  Either the one who has just begun piano lessons a couple of weeks ago or the adult one in for a few days’ visit.  She might be staring at her beginner book and looking down trying to find Middle C which is just to the left of the two black keys under the name on the piano, Wurlitzer. Still no more music.  Just an occasional little, light tap on a key.  She is studying.  She is thinking.  Then another key is pressed.  Now a chord.  No, it’s not my 9 year old.  It’s my second daughter who has sat on that piano bench for hours.  Her Teaching Little Fingers to Play book has been buried in a box in the basement for years.  She is no beginner and she needs no book.  She is a composer.  She doesn’t identify herself as that, but she is.  She sits, she contemplates, she gently touches a key or two.  She hits a few chords, some that she’s invented that don’t sound just right.  A few pauses between exploration and then her fingers start working together.  The song just flows, faster, more involved, more intense, with phrases and pauses, with intent and purpose.  It is a song I’ve never heard before….a song she hasn’t heard before on the piano, but obviously it has played in her brain at some point.  Her fingers are now cooperating with the song that she has heard in her head while skateboarding or walking or resting.  Her hands put a sound to her thoughts and her thoughts are beautiful.  Sometimes as surprising and as unpredictable as she is.  Sometimes the “songs” don’t seem to flow the way in which we expect them, but sometimes she doesn’t either.  Regardless her song is unique and so is she.

The music stops.  She moves on to another activity.  She didn’t write it down, she never does, no one else will ever get to hear that original composition.  She’s okay with that.  I feel honored to have had the opportunity to have had her share her thoughts with me through the closed door.  She doesn’t know that she was sharing.

She lives away now. Tomorrow she will move to Colorado.  Her thoughts will be geographically even further away than they were before.  The piano that used to sing her thoughts every day will only be used by her from time to time when she visits. I know that when she returns she will have new thoughts and new songs.  I’m excited for her to see new sights, make new friends, try new things.  Her songs will change as she does and both will only become more and more beautiful as they do.

Note:  Originally penned on 8-17-15;  N is happily adjusting to life in Denver, CO.

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