My Aunt Nancy used to bring “Nuts & Bolts” to our holiday parties. As a kid, I loved picking through the mix and choosing the cereals that were my favorite in order. I still ate all that was in the mix, but I prioritized them and ate them in a specific order. There is a slight chance that by the time I got to the mixed nuts and pretzels, I just pitched what was left on my napkin into the garbage, but who knows?
There are many recipes for the delightful tradition, but instead of using garlic cloves, paprika, cayenne pepper and even fresh rosemary as some of these recipes recommend, I have simplified and made the following my own.
1 Stick of margaine
1 1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
4 1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
6 C Crispix Cereal
1 C Pretzel sticks broken in pieces
1 C Cheerios
1 C Salted Peanuts
Melt butter in microwave, add season salt and Worcestershire and mix well. Pour over dry cereal, nuts and pretzels in microwave safe bowl. Microwave on High for 2 minutes, stir, microwave on high another 2 minutes, stir, Microwave on High for 1 minute more and pour onto paper towels. Enjoy.
May use different cereals or different amounts of different ingredients to equal 9 Cups of dry mix. (It’s a great way to use up leftover plain cereals!)
We woke and headed out to the frigid temperatures to man the kettle and ring the bells for the Salvation Army. An annual event for our family continues to bless us with good cheer. We intentionally greet each person entering the store and we smile and say “Good Morning” and “Merry Christmas.” Everyone returns a cordial nod and most put donations in our kettle.
Today I “trained” some 11-year-old girls on the importance of greeting each individual and offering them a Hershey’s kiss whether they donated or not. I explained to them that our purpose for being there was two-fold. One, to collect donations for our community and two, to share the joy and spread the love by simply speaking, greeting and smiling. We definitely accomplished both.
How we treat people in our lives is very important. God loves us and he wants us to love each other. This morning our group of bell-ringers served God by loving his children. It is my hope that people felt a little better after sharing a smile. I encourage you all to make eye contact and greet those people outside of stores whether you choose to donate or not, just as I encouraged the girls today to greet each person respectfully whether they gave or not. The gift may not be monetary, it may be the gift of a smile or just a few moments of kindness. Today individuals shared smiles, jokes, and cash and all were much appreciated.
Then, when you enter the store, share the smile with the clerks and fellow customers, go home and share the kindness with your family and continue to do so with everyone you meet.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
— 1 Corinthians 13:2New International Version (NIV)
If you are like me, you have stacks and stacks of books in your house. I have books in every room and many I haven’t read and those that I have, I probably will not read again. However, there are pencil underlines, notes in the margins, lessons attempted to be learned in their pages. I’ve decided in an attempt to get the books off my shelves and into the hands of others who may benefit from them that I will make notes in my blog and maybe some of them will touch you….then, the book moves on!
Notes on A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller
- Prayer is meant to be the conversation where your life and your God meet.
- When we slow down to pray, we are immediately confronted with how unspiritual we are, with how difficult it is to concentrate on God. We don’t know how bad we are until we try to be good. Nothing exposes our selfishness and spiritual powerlessness like prayer.
- Jesus opens his arms to his needy children and says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy.
- Instead of fighting anxiety, we can use it as a springboard to bending our hearts to God.
- At some point, each of us comes face to face with the valley of the shadow of death. We can’t ignore it. We can’t remain neutral with evil. We either give up and distance ourselves, or we learn to walk with the Shepherd. There is no middle ground.
- Learned desperation is at the heart of a praying life.
- If you are going to enter this divine dance we call prayer, you have to surrender your desire to be in control, to figure out how prayer works.
- Don’t just ask for spiritual things or “good” things. Tell God what you want. Before you can abide, the real you has to meet the real God. Ask anything.
- Why do we have to spend our lives striving to be something that we would never want to be if we only knew what we wanted? Why do we waste our time doing things which…are just the opposite of what we were made for?” — Thomas Merton
- Guidance means I’m driving the car and asking God which way to go. Wisdom is richer, more personal. I don’t just need help with my plans; I need help with my questions and even my own heart.
- Until you are convinced that you can’t change your child’s heart, you will not take prayer seriously.
- I prayed because I was weak. I wasn’t trying to control God. I certainly wasn’t in control of (my child). I was simply praying God’s own heart back to him. I couldn’t imagine him not answering such a prayer.
- If the miracle comes too quickly, there is no room for discovery, for a relationship.
- When we suffer, we long for God to speak clearly, to tell us the end of the story and, most of all, to show himself. But if he showed himself fully and immediately if he answered all the questions, we’d never grow; we’d never emerge from our chrysalis because we’d be forever dependent.
- Living in our Father’s Story: To live in our Father’s story, remember these three things;
- Don’t demand that the story go your way. (In other words, surrender completely.)
- Look for the Storyteller. Look for his hand, and then pray in light of what you are seeing. (In other words, develop an eye for Jesus.)
- Stay in the story. Don’t shut down when it goes the wrong way.
- I want success, he wants authenticity.
- If we pursue joy directly, it slips from our grasp. But if we begin with Jesus and learn to love, we end up with joy.
- When we understand the story, it quiets our souls. It’s okay to have a busy life. It’s crazy to have a busy soul.
- Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don’t matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?
May God bless the author and the reader of this book and may God bless you, the reader of this blog!
They arrived yesterday. The Christmas card photos. Gorgeous families that I am blessed to call friends. There were no notes, just photos of smiles and Christmas scenery emitting feelings of joy and peace. I know these families. Some of these families are indeed celebrating the season with joy and peace. Their children are young and would make every day special. The twinkle in their eyes is sincere and they will indeed be awestruck come Christmas morning. The others, though, are not quite as fortunate. Some of them have been transparent with me this year and have allowed me to know that behind the superficial smile on their child’s face is a deeply troubled soul who causes havoc in the family. These kids have troubles. These parents have troubles. But, for an afternoon, they tried to get all the personalities represented in the photo to cooperate and to smile. I don’t know how much blood, sweat, and tears went into this photo shoot, but I do know that in the end, it was worth it.
The ones who are not dealing with mental illness will laugh at the antics their kids did while trying to get the perfect picture and the ones who are dealing with mental illness will cling to the photo that represents a tiny bit of normalcy in an otherwise chaotic home. I hope that the struggling parents will feel a sense of accomplishment in actually getting a photo that can be sent out to others and I hope the “typical” parents can treasure and appreciate the gift of happy children.
I thank them all for sending the cards to me. I will display them all season and I will pray for them. I will pray that the holidays do bring them joy and peace. I will pray the same for my family….with or without a gorgeous Christmas Card photo shoot.