Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bountiful Blessings

Thanksgiving is a time of giving thanks to God for his bountiful blessings. Blessings… the good things God gives us….or is it?  Are blessings always little sweet pieces of candy falling from heaven? 
When we are thanking God for His blessings, do we really understand God’s definition of blessing? Blessings come in all shapes and sizes, including pain and suffering many times. It is easy to be thankful for a new car, food on the table, a great paying job, or some other “feel good” gift from God. Can we thank God for the blessing of pain or the difficult lessons we are learning while struggling through a relentless never-ending trial? 
I have two very dear friends that are devoted and dedicated pastor’s wives. Each of these ladies have struggled valiantly this last year with Cancer. I called one on a particularly “bad report” day to encourage her and let her know how much I loved her and was praying for her. To my surprise, she answered the phone with a chipper, up-beat spirit. As we chatted about this and that, I suddenly realized that she was encouraging me to have faith. She was challenging my ability to believe God for healing and miracles in our church. She was expressing to me how blessed she was to be going through something that was challenging her faith. Whether God healed her or not, He is still God and he is still the healer. When the conversation was finished, I replaced the receiver on the telephone, so full of faith and excited about the blessings of God that I rejoiced for hours! Where did this extraordinary amount of faith come from? Was not she struggling with a painful disease stealing healthy blood cells and weakening her body daily? 
So, my paradigm of  “blessing” has changed, which has ricocheted a change in my attitude toward “thankfulness” drastically. I am learning daily how to be thankful for every part of life, good or bad. I understand that God uses blessings of uncomfortable proportions to perform his purpose and plan in my life. He desires to perfect Himself in me. To do that, to know Him the way I want to know Him includes sharing in His suffering….heavy duty isn’t it? But I am thankful that I have the opportunity to share in His suffering….for through that conduit, I will find compassion, perseverance, and like my friend, a generous portion of positive faith. I would not trade what I am learning in the classroom of suffering for a thousand buckets of little sweet pieces of candy falling from heaven.
This Thanksgiving my prayer will be the same, “Thank you God for your bountiful blessings.” But this year, I understand a little better the meaning of “blessing”. This year I am thankful for His bountiful blessings like never before!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Leave Room for Cream

A true "cupper" would probably say that I could never be a coffee taster; that I cannot possibly decipher the nuance between different coffee beans on my tongue. Perhaps they are right, but in my defense, I have found joy in sipping hot coffee by adding great flavor to a good cup. I've learned to leave room for cream - lots of cream. In my case, that small colorful addition to a plain cup of coffee adds a whole new dimension to my morning sipping. I've tried black coffee on many occasions and find that it just makes me appreciate my creamer all the more. Sorry, "cuppers," this gal is going to spice up her cup every chance I get. When I go to my favorite coffee shop, I tell the barista, "leave room for cream." I have to ask for it or he automatically fills it up to the brim with the plain stuff and there's no room for my yummy sweet add-in.

What about you? Are you leaving some space in your life for spice - some room in your cup for cream? We get so busy with work, raising the kids, doing house chores, turning favors for friends, and other commitments that we forget to leave room for the finer things in life. Don't let your life be automatically filled to the brim with everything else. I hope as you look at your next cup of coffee you remember to leave some room for cream in your life. Would a coffee stop make your work day a little more enjoyable? "Stop and smell the roses" is an old saying to remind us to enjoy the journey. Don't get so busy with life that it passes you by. Enjoy life and remember to leave room for cream.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fresh Cranberry-Pecan Jello Salad

This recipe is so yummy. I always passed up the Cranberry sauce at our Thanksgiving celebrations. Now, I can't wait for an excuse to make this yummy rendition of an old tradition.

1 package fresh cranberries
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 large package raspberry Jello
1 cup boiling water
1 can crushed pineapple (drained)
¾ cup diced celery
2 apples (grated)
½ cup pecans

Preparation time: 15 minutes. Servings: 12.

Grind or chop cranberries in blender or food processor. Work sugar into cranberries until completely dissolved. Dissolve Jello in boiling water and add to cranberries. Add pineapple, celery, apples and nuts. Chill for a few hours before serving.

*This yummy recipe was shared by Jennifer Gregory Van Ryswyk at our Thanksgiving celebration November 1999 in Stockton, California. It was her mother’s recipe. It was an instant hit and I’ve been making it every year since.