Monthly Archives: November 2015

Classic Pecan Pie Bars

ireYears ago I attempted to make Pecan Tassies for my father in law.  He is the Pecan Pie baker in the family and I thought I’d give the tassies a shot.  Well, after hours of labor, they didn’t turn out so great anyways, so I decided to leave the baking to Senior.  Until this year.  I found an awesome recipe for Pecan Pie Bars and I gave it a shot!  They were super easy and delicious.  (I had to sample a couple before they headed to the freezer in hopes of them making it to Thanksgiving!)

Classic Pecan Pie Bars

Crust:       1 3/4 C Flour,  3/4 C Butter, softened,   1/3 C Sugar,   1/3 C  Pecans, coarsely chopped

Filling:    1 1/2 C Corn Syrup,  2/3 C Brown Sugar (firmly packed),  4 Eggs, 6 TBS Flour,  2 tsp Vanilla,  1 tsp Salt,  1 1/2 C Pecans (chopped)

Directions:  Heat over to 350 degrees.  Combine 1 3/4 C Four, Butter and Sugar in bowl.  Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in 1/3 C Pecans.

Press crust mixture evenly on bottom of ungreased 13×9 inch baking pan.  Bake 18-22 minutes or until edges are very light golden brown.

Combine all filling ingredients except 1 1/2 C Pecans in bowl; mix well.  Stir in pecans.  Spread evenly over hot, partially baked crust.  Bake 30-35 minutes or until filling is set and knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean.  Cool completely; refrigerate. Cut into bars.

 

 

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Worth Repeating

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My morning routine is very…..well routine.  Each morning, I wake up, make a cup of tea and head to my dining room table for my morning devotions and to write in my journal.  I always read Our Daily Bread & a passage of scripture.  I am currently reading through the New Testament on a 6 month plan and today’s assignment was 2 Corinthians 12 & 13.  I read those and completed my totally unrelated Q&A a day: (Today’s question: What do you have to get done? In 2013 I answered “prepare a nice meal for George’s return from Florida” & last year “write a blog post!”)

After my time at the dining room table each day, I begin tackling tasks, chores and the game of life.  Today I really wanted to write a blog post (probably because I read it in my Q&A a day from last year) so I head upstairs to work.  I decide to dig out some old journals to see what sparks my interest.  After reading only 2 pages, I come to a journal entry dated April 7, 2014.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I come to you today, distracted.  I am feeling agitated and annoyed and out of sorts for no apparent reason.  I have been reading about serving and am not sure of my motives when I serve.  If I’m serving with the right heart, I get joy and I am pleased to have served, but it is difficult to be humble.  I find pride to be a huge obstacle to me, but I don’t know how to get away from it.  Sometimes, like today, I feel that it is difficult to serve in my current capacity.  Dear Lord, help me to serve you by serving others. Help me feel like I am serving you by driving the girls to music, taking Richard to the dentist, doing laundry & picking up after others.  Help me to see beyond the “work of today” & see it as “the service for eternity.” Help me to take the focus off of myself and on to others.  Help my work to be more productive.  Take away this unsettling feeling that I have and grant me contentment in all things.  Give me a grateful heart. (still in original journal entry)…AFTER writing the above I read my Bible passage from The Upper Room.  2 Corinthians 12:1-10.  All about boasting & weakness.  God’s perfect timing is revealed again.

ALERT! 2 Corinthians 12?!  Didn’t I just read that THIS morning?  God’s perfect timing is revealed yet again!  The same prayer I prayed over 11 years ago is still applicable today.  The names have changed, the chores differ a bit, but I am still serving others…and unfortunately, I still struggle to do it with the right heart. So, I will take comfort in God’s Word:  2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.

So, 11 years later, I find myself still weak, hence, still strong. Maybe this post will strike a nerve with you.  Maybe God’s perfect timing is you reading this right now.  If so, I’ve prayed for you.  May you also be weak….and also strong.  God Bless You!

 

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I’ll Celebrate Now!

Thanksgiving-Christmas

We talk about it all the time…Retailers rushing the season.  In July you can’t find a swimsuit because the store is preparing for Back-to-School.  September brings on Halloween and prior to Halloween, the halls are being decked for Christmas.  This used to upset me.

I love Thanksgiving.  I think it might be my favorite holiday.  Focusing on our thankfulness, spending time with my family and eating stuffing all rank very high on my pleasure scale.  I love the colors of Autumn, the decorations in green, orange and red, the pumpkins & gourds.  The scent of cinnamon and pumpkin candles and the chill of a fall evening to light them also bring me joy.  My house has beautiful leaves inside and out.  Previously, I felt like people weren’t appreciating the holiday by giving it the attention it deserved.  They were blowing past it to hit Christmas hard and heavy before the end of November.  I resisted.  I kept my pumpkins out and refused to get out the tinsel until December 1.  Who wants that stuff sitting around for weeks anyhow?

Well, this year it appears to be me.  Although the fall decorations and scarecrows are still on display, I must admit that my head and heart are heading swiftly to Christmas. If I don’t start now, I’m afraid I’ll wake up in 2016 not having enjoyed the holidayS to their fullest. On this November day, I am pledging to focus on both Thanksgiving and Christmas at the same time.  The boxes of Holly and Ivy will stay in the basement until the day after I eat turkey, but they are already dusted off and open.

While I am enjoying family at Thanksgiving dinner, I’m going to be VERY thankful that I only have to wait a month to be with them again. I will be thankful that as we dine on leftovers, some of the family will remain and will help me find the perfect place for our animated Bing Crosby and our Jingle Bell marching band to call home for the month of December.

Just as we don’t choose only one day to celebrate the gifts of our friendships, families and relations, I don’t think we should limit our Thanksgiving or Jesus’ Birthday to one day. Whether you can tell by the lights and decorations in our homes or not, let’s be thankful & recognize the importance of the birth of our Lord daily.  Oh, and Happy New Year!

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. –Colossians 4:2
…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. –Luke 2:7

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The Discomfort of the Calm

calm-before-the-storm

Have you been there?  That place of quiet calm where you are just waiting for the other shoe to drop?  I’m there right now and I hesitate to even write about it.  I don’t believe in superstition, but feel like knocking on wood. Do I really want to express that things in my home are going smoothly right now?  My husband and I are getting along, good report cards came home yesterday from school and even my Reactive Attachment Disordered(RAD) son has been relatively calm.

Historically Paul has struggled the most in the month of October.  He has always said that his birthday month just reminds him that he wasn’t born into this family.  That, in turn, brings to his mind all the other unsettling things he ponders regarding his adoption and his early childhood trauma.  Poor Kid.  But this year, October was blessed.  I even re-read my journal for October and found all good comments about Paul’s behavior.  I noticed in my journal that many days he wasn’t even mentioned.  No news is good news regarding my journaling, so when I noticed he was missing, I thought I’d intentionally add the positive comments. It was refreshing to state the truth.  The honest truth and it was good.

For the parents of other RAD kids, I can almost see you rolling your eyes.  “Yeah, good for you, but we are still knee deep in garbage at our house.”  Well, let me tell you that even if we are in the calm right now, I still fear that I am just resting in the eye of a tornado. Years of abuse and unrest don’t disappear over night, do they?  And, I’m talking about OUR abuse, not his. Maybe I feel like the wife of an alcoholic just waiting for her husband to go on that next binge.  I am just not sure, but as welcoming as this time of rest is, it is unsettling.  What are we supposed to do with our hoses if there aren’t any fires to put out?  I think I’ll use mine to water the grass that I hope comes up in the spring.  What do I mean by that?  I think I’ll use this time to prepare for the next phase, whatever that may be.

I know how exhausting dealing with a troubled child is.  It is emotionally and physically draining, so in this quiet, I will rest.  I will not fill every spare second in meetings, reading parenting books or speaking with therapists about how to manage.  I’m taking a break from learning, trying, and strategizing. I’m taking a break from the grueling schedule of trying to figure it all out.  (I never did, by the way, I just tried! There is no figuring it out!)

I’m reading fiction.  Any fictional piece of literature I want.  I have a whole stack of books full of fluff calling my name. Books without indexes, pages of resources, & notes.  Books with pictures of mountains, lilies or tea cups on the front and no action plan in the back.  I will read, enjoy and even forget what it was about.

I’m going to take a walk….without my phone. No one needs me.  I can walk, enjoy the leaves on the tree and the chipmunks on the ground.  I will smile at strangers I may meet and I will not have the creases of stress on my forehead.

I’m going shopping and I’m going to shop for me.  I’m not going to try to find socks without seams, or shirts without tags.  I’m going to buy whatever makes me feel good.

I’m going to waste time on Pinterest. I may check out crafts to make out of pine branches or poems to write in calligraphy.  I am not going to research safes, weighted blankets, interior door locks or security systems.

I’m going to go out to dinner with my husband and talk about….drumroll please…..him.  I wonder what he’s been up to the last decade or so as we battled this mental illness?  I’m going to have a conversation with him that doesn’t involve discussions of IEP’s, Psychiatrists, or ISPT meetings.

I’m going to play Uno with my daughter.I will have extra time since it won’t be spent picking up debris from a melt down.

And, finally, I am going to enjoy my son.  I am going to spend time with him, talk to him and try to see what has created this calm.  Just like I didn’t know what created the chaos, I also probably won’t be able to figure out what caused the calm, but it will be nice to spend some time with him.  During the calm, he is pleasant and even lets his sense of humor break through.

I wonder what would happen if instead of expending all my energy on figuring everything out all the time, I just accepted the storms and accepted the calm.  Would not worrying about things make time in the midst of the storm for me to do all the things I reserve for the calm?  What if I ran into the storm head on just to get to the eye?  What if I found peace in whatever climate his behavior caused?  It’s definitely something I should consider.  On my next shopping trip, I’m going to buy boots, rain gear and an umbrella and I’m going to be rested and ready. Some storm chasers get bored with the calm.  I can’t say I’m one of them, but I know that if I take care of myself now, I’ll weather the next storm much better!

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Bell Ringing Blessing

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It’s on my calendar.  An annual appointment that I look forward to each year.  Squashed in between Christmas parties, shopping, church pageant practice & violin recitals is Salvation Army bell ringing with my mother.  When I was first asked if I would don a red apron and stand by the kettle at the local grocery store in the freezing cold for a couple of hours, I said, “yes.”  Not because I had felt a special call to this position, but because I was asked and I didn’t have a good excuse not to.  Was I looking forward to it? Probably not, but it was only for a couple of hours and I would be visiting with my mom.  It didn’t seem like a big sacrifice so I agreed.  I have done it ever since.

What started out as an obligation has turned into an incredible blessing.  Spending time with my mom is always a good thing, but seeing the community through the eyes of a bell ringer has been life changing.  I am utterly amazed at how generous this community is.  I expected some people to drop a couple of spare coins that were in the bottom of their coat pocket into the kettle, but I had not expected how intentional people are with their giving.  People in a hurry to rush into the store for milk, bread or toilet paper, stop and take the time to open their purses, open their wallets and get some bills to fold and place in the slot of the kettle.  They stop.  They pause.  They give.  On the way out of the store, with their arms full of packages, I’ve seen them set down their bags, take off their gloves, struggle with getting their wallets out of their back pockets and give. Not just the spare change, but the money that they have earned and placed in their wallets for a purpose.  I’m sure they aren’t expecting to give when they leave home in the morning, but when they see the kettle and hear the bells, they donate.  They feel called to help the Salvation Army and hence, help their community.

This year I have been asked to be the area coordinator for the Red Kettle Drive.  I am honored to hold this position as I ask people about donating a couple of hours of their hectic holiday season to ring the bell.  If they’ve done it in the past, they are quick to agree to help again.  Obviously, their experience matches mine.  They have found that two hours of bell ringing has lifted their spirits and taken the focus off of the hustle and bustle of shopping and into the true spirit of the season, the season of giving.

When you see a kettle, I’d like you to have some information:

First off, the money that you place in that kettle remains in the community that it is in.  Isn’t that amazing?  Our area includes 5 different small zip codes, but it’s good to know that your neighbors will be benefitting from your donation.  Currently this area has been receiving about 5 calls a week for help.  Did you know your neighbors needed you this much?

Approximately 87% of your donation goes to the actual person in need.

The Salvation Army has been around since 1865 and in the United States since 1886.  Talk about an established charity!

Your donation helps feed the hungry, house the homeless and help the addicted plus a lot more.  It is hoped that an hour of bell ringing will provide a homeless person with one night of lodging and 3 meals.

The Salvation Army is actually a church that is serving people that aren’t sitting in pews.  They believe they are called to roll up their sleeves and get to work to meet the material and emotional needs of a person before they can minister to their spiritual needs.

When you are giving, please recognize what a difference you are making. It’s not just your spare change, it’s your giving spirit that will help others. Your spare change or your carefully considered donation combined with the same from others can give a member of your community hope.  God Bless You for giving.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  –Matthew 25:35

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Today I Write

So each morning when my alarm goes off, I take a second to become alert and then I try to figure out what day it is and what my obligations are for that day.  Is it a school day? Do the kids need to catch the bus? Do I have an appointment? Do I need to dress or will I be wearing sweats all day around the house?  In that second, my mood rises to meet the demands of the day. Today I woke and thought, “Today I Write.”

I prepared my mind last night for this day. Yesterday I cleaned the house, did the laundry, took care of some pesky emails, busied myself with chores and little responsibilities that occupy my brain so that today I could write. However, is it human nature that even when I design the circumstances, I can still fool myself into thinking I should be doing something else. So, on my “Today I Write” day I feel like cleaning the basement. I feel like baking. I feel like today would be the perfect day to go into the attic and organize the Halloween costumes. What?! Why do I do that? On days when I have appointments all day, I “feel” like I would clean my entire house if I could just stay home. But, if I have a day at home, I find my desire to go shopping overrules the cleaning up inclination. Is it me or do all creative procrastinators do this?

So, today I write. It’s time to do just that. Write. I am going to do this. I hope that you follow through today and do what you intend to do. I think we will all feel better if we are just true to ourselves and do just that. Today I write.

But, wait, was that the phone ringing? Maybe it’s someone who wants to do lunch!

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Tired or Trusting?

After a big night of Trick or Treating, Kaylee invited her cousin to spend the night.  It’s always fun when these two are together and really it is no trouble at all, so I allowed the sleepover to occur.  Of course, the girls had much more energy than my husband and I and when it was time for us to go to bed, we suggested they did too.  So, I tuck them in and tell them that they are welcome to whisper for a while, but to stay in bed (or on floor as the case may be.)  My husband and I went to bed and watched a little TV.  When it was time for us to turn off the lights, I exhaustedly asked him if he thought I should check on the kids.  He thought they’d be fine.  Relieved that I didn’t have to leave the warm comfort of my bed, I rolled over and went to sleep.

To the best of my knowledge they whispered a while and then fell asleep. In the morning, I came in to wake them and told them how much I appreciated that I was able to trust them and that I didn’t even need to come back in to check on them.  I simply trusted them. I then turned to Kaylee and said, “It’s time to get ready for church, come and show me what you want to wear to church before you put it on.”  Kaylee quickly responded, “Why? Don’t you trust me?”

Ouch.  She got me.  I trusted her to whisper a while in bed because I was tired, but in the morning when I had the energy to be more in charge I stopped trusting and wanted to start controlling.

Do we do that with God?  When we are desperate and destitute, when we are battered and weary, it’s easier to trust, “Lord, handle this, because I just don’t have the energy to!”  However, when we He gets us through our bind, we begin doubting again and our trust wanes. “I feel better, I think I’ll do it MY way again.”

We are to:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” –Proverbs 3:5-6

And we need to: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:  He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.” — Psalm 37:5-6

Though I searched (not really…), I couldn’t find anywhere in the Bible where it says we are to trust in the Lord when we are tired and distrust when we wake up bright and on top of our game.  We are to trust.  And we are to do it with all our heart.

Kaylee looked lovely in her sleeveless dress & sweater and her open toed sandals.  It was a lovely day in Pennsylvania for fall, but I’m not leaving it to trust again. November 1 is now closed season for summer clothes!

 

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