Archive for April, 2010
As I behold the wonders of the flow’ring, blooming tree,
I pause, in awe, to ponder what the Creator is to me.
He’s Joy and Hope at each new morn; He’s Mercy when I fall;
The Giver of sweet rest at night; the Hearer of my call.
The Craftsmen of the flow’rs that bud; the Divider of the sea;
He calls the stars by name above, yet holds me tenderly.
Giver of grace in my deep need; and much more than can be told!
But, more than these, He is to me – the Keeper of my soul.
What is He to YOU?
Here is a short video that we recently put together as an advertisement for Accurate Innovations. It’s our first attempt at anything like this, but we enjoyed it, and hope to be able to post more videos in the future. For more information about custom rifle stocks, visit AccurateInnovations.com.
It was a birthday that will be hard to forget – at least the cake part. At the time, I was probably about 12, and Mom had given me permission to make my own birthday cake… and it was fun… and funny to some. I chose to make what is called a Banana Pudding Cake. It was supposed to be made in a 13×9 pan, with the pudding put on top, and served with whipped topping… a nice, cool, and creamy kind-of cake. But, instead of having a cake in a 13×9, I wanted to have it be a layer cake – with three layers. So that’s what we did.
Well, the cake was in the oven, and everything seemed to be going very well. The aroma of a cake baking in the oven is something that I find hard to compare to anything else. Its just so, ummm, inviting… and it smells so good…nay, scrumptious. Anyway, I continued following the recipe. Now was the time to mix up the pudding. Put the pudding in the pot, pour in the milk, add the butter, stir in the vanilla… the project was going very well. But, then I realized that the pudding wasn’t thickening, and I wanted to use it as a frosting, not a glaze. Some observers came in about then, and willingly offered to taste-test it for me, just in case I had forgotten anything. (We even thought about adding cornstarch to it, but I guess if we had, it wouldn’t have produced quite the same memory, so I’m glad we didn’t.) But the good news was that the general vote was that it was really good.
So, the cake came out of the oven, and after it cooled, I layered it with the pudding mixture. Cake, pudding, cake, pudding, cake, pudding… it was all on… temporarily… that’s when the sliding began. There’s nothing quite like seeing a freshly baked cake sliding all over a plate while you’re trying to assemble it. We did our best to get it to “stand” still long enough to put it in the fridge.
Upon delivering it to the table after a delicious supper, it looked rather interesting, to say the least. I think Daddy was expecting it to be a normal birthday cake… but no, it definitely was not. If I recall correctly, it was still slipping and sliding around on the plate, pudding and bananas oozing out the sides, requiring extra caution, especially during transport.
It was dished up, and there was quite the discussion going on over this new invention, and it was an invention, because I’m sure no one had ever done this recipe that way before. It was a humorous desert to behold, that’s for sure. Daddy affectionately called it “Banana Flop Cake” – that gives an idea of what it looked like. Thankfully,it tasted really good, and ever since that night, there has been a frequent request to make it again. It turned out to be one of the most wonderful tasting messes ever imaginable!
Finally, we made it again today; this time we did it according to the recipe and made it in a 13×9 pan. Everything was going really well. And once again the wonderful aroma was filling the kitchen. Ahhhh, it smelled so good! Then, Beep, Beep, Beep… the timer was ringing, so I opened the oven, and to my surprise, the cake had risen over the edge of the pan! How was I supposed to put the pudding mixture on top of that, especially with it runny enough to get all over the counter?!?! I ended up dumping it, upside down, into a 15×11 pan, and then drizzling the pudding over it. It was delicious, and thoroughly enjoyed. And, even though this time it looked nice, it still will always have the name of “Banana Flop Cake.” Ahhhh, memories!
Sometimes God gives us something to do and we just make a total mess of it. However, “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” He can take our mess and turn it into something desirable – a ministry opportunity, a life lesson, an example or encouragement to others – which shows His sovereignty and grace, making something beautiful out of our disaster and bringing glory to Himself!!
Lessons to be learned:
Be careful when altering recipes – you never know what may happen!
Don’t give up, even when you make a mess twice!
Make sure you laugh when life sends cake in unusual ways! 🙂
Oh… I guess you were probably waiting for the recipe. So, here it is… and think about us if you make it… and enjoy!
Banana Pudding Cake (aka “Banana Flop Cake”)
- 1 yellow cake mix
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 15×11 baking dish; set aside.
Place all ingredients in large mixing bowl. Blend with electric mixer on low for 1 minute. Stop mixer, scrape sides of bowl, then continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes. Batter should be thick and well-blended. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it out with rubber spatula. Bake for 30-33 minutes, or until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove pan from oven and place it on wire rack to cool.
- 1 large package vanilla instant pudding mix
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1/2 stick butter, cut up
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 cups sliced bananas (about 3 large)
While cake is baking, prepare the pudding. Place pudding mix and milk in a medium saucepan. Fold in butter and vanilla. Cook over low heat, stirring, until butter melts (about 3-4 minutes).Remove pan from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. Fold in banana slices.
To prepare cake, spoon pudding over cooled cake, making sure all edges are covered. Optional: Serve with whipped topping and/or crushed vanilla wafer cookies sprinkled over the top. Refrigerate cake, loosely covered for up to 3 days.
- Use two small boxes pudding mix instead of 1 large – makes it a little bit thicker, and I used 1 vanilla and 1 banana cream.
- We think its best served cold, but the recipe says to serve at room temperature. Follow your taste buds.
- You could try it in a 13×9, or in 3 9-inch round cake pans; I personally think it would do best in the 15×11. *grin*
- We didn’t have any whipped topping, so we just served it with a can of whipped cream, which is Dad’s personal favorite.
Ah-choo!! Sniffle, sniffle. Ah-CHOO!! AH-CHOOO!!!! I blow my nose. I can’t talk to anyone more than a sentence without stopping to sneeze. My eyes are red and watering, and sometimes unbearably itchy. Ugh!! I love Spring-time… but the pollen is terrible!! Can’t anybody tell me of a way to stop this reaction, OTHER than with regular allergy medication???
That was my story several years ago. Actually, that was me last year. Well, I have to admit, that was me just last week.
Don’t get me wrong; I love Spring – I really do! I love the smell of the cool, refreshing breezes that blow on otherwise warm days, watching the grass grow greener daily, seeing the flowers that are popping up everywhere, observing the birds that are “house shopping”, preparing their nests, hearing the pitter patter of the rejuvenating rains on the porch roof as I watch the storms blow across the mountains, anticipating just when the little knobs on the tree branches will burst into bloom……… I love the excitement, the thrill, the newness of it all! But along with all of the beauty comes… yep: pollen.
Some people are blessed to not be allergic to pollen. We have some of those people in our family. But we also have several who, like me, have strong reactions to it. And it can take away from a lot of the enjoyment of spring. For a LONG time, I have been wondering, What can I do about this? I don’t like to take all the expensive, chemical-laden, commercially produced, temporarily-symptom-fixing products that we can buy at the store. Granted, I think those things have their place, and I’m all for using them at the right time. There has been many a time, even this week, when they come in extremely handy for “emergencies” – those times when I would really rather not be blowing my nose and crying and sneezing all the time… like when I’m singing special music in church or teaching piano lessons. But to live on them all through the pollen season??? Well, that’s not my first preference.
So that’s why I’m writing this: to let you know about something that I’ve found just within the past several days. It’s an amazing substance. It’s sweet (although slightly sticky, as most sweets are), delicious, good for you, and 100% natural!!! How much better can it get?? Would you like to know the name of this wonderful stuff? Actually, you probably use it all the time; you certainly know what it is; it’s usually a “pantry item” in most homes. At our house, we jokingly call it “partially digested bee food.” But the more common (and certainly more appetizing!) name is: honey. That’s right! Just plain old, regular honey. I love it. So when I looked up a remedy for allergies in a home remedies book, I was delighted to find this listed first. Actually, the book says to take a 1-inch cube of honeycomb, swallow the honey, and chew on the waxy part for about ten minutes. (This HAS to be local honey – the stuff produced by the bees in YOUR area – so that the allergens it contains can build your immune system against the pollen that you deal with in your area.) Do this every day for a month or two before the pollen season, so that when it starts, you already have built an immunity to at least some of the problem.
Well, I didn’t discover this until a few days ago. And I was reading the page between sneezes and through watery eyes. But I decided that it was worth it to give it a try. We don’t currently have any honey in the comb, so I used the next best thing – a spoon. No, I didn’t chew the spoon. 😉 But I stuck it in the jar, pulled it out, spun it around several times until it quit dripping, and then enjoyed the wonderful sensation of eating something that I really enjoy, and hoping that it would help my problem! I did this four or five times the first day, three or four the next, once the next, and once or twice every day since. And guess what? My symptoms have pretty much all disappeared!!! It’s been several days now; I’ve been able to take walks, work in the yard, and flop on the grass, with everything blooming and a strong breeze blowing right in my face, and I usually only have a tiny bit of trouble (if any) when I come back inside later! It’s such a relief, and I’m just praising the Lord for every clear breath I take!!
Now I’m not going to dogmatically say that the honey is what did it. And even if it was, I’m not going to declare that it will do it for you, too. But I just wanted to let you know, because if you are at the point where I was (and usually am every spring), you’ll probably want to at least give it a try!!!
Proverbs 24:13 – “My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste…”
(P.S. And if it works, let me know. I’d be really interested in hearing if this helps anyone else!!) 🙂
A few weeks ago, Daddy and Mommy went on a date. Kitty was making French toast for supper (my favorite!), so I asked if I could help. We had lots of fun together. She rolled the bread in the goopy stuff and then put it in the pan. Then we let it cook for a little while. We had two pans going so that we could get it made faster, so she flipped the bread on the square pan and I flipped the bread on the circle one. I learned that you have to be very careful and keep your hand away from the hot sides of the pan, because I accidently burned myself! Ouch! I still got to help finish making supper, though. I like to cook!
When it was all done, all of us kids ate it with maple syrup. Yummy! Here is the recipe:
3 beaten eggs
¾ cup milk
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
¼ tsp. salt
10 slices of dry white bread
In a shallow bowl, beat eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Dip bread in egg mixture, coating both sides. In a greased skillet, cook bread on both sides over medium heat until golden brown. Serve with syrup.
Notes from the cook:
The French toast is best (and better for you) when made with Mommy’s homemade whole wheat bread. It fills hungry boys like me up faster that way.:)
It is also yummy when eaten with powdered sugar instead of syrup.
Kitty doubled the recipe for our family, but used a few more pieces of bread than the double batch called for, just to use up the goopy stuff.
Doesn’t everybody know about Mayfield Dairy products?? Aren’t they just a normal part of every American’s everyday life???
This is what we used to think, as Mayfield has been one of our favorite ice cream sources for a long time :), but about two years ago we were shocked to find out that not everyone has had the opportunity to experience the fantabulistical taste of Mayfield’s ice creamier and milk. Why? As we soon discovered, Mayfield is only in the Southeast! There are three processing/packaging plants: one in Athens, Tennessee (we toured it in 2009), one in Birmingham, Alabama, and one in Braselton, Georgia. Mayfield has a commitment to only delivering their products to stores that can be reached easily – without too much time spent in transit – to ensure that their products are always fresh and have a longer shelf life.
This last weekend during a short family “get-away,” we had the opportunity to tour the Mayfield Dairy plant in GA. Having loved our tour of the one in TN, we were curious to see how much of a difference there would be, how much more of the process we would be able to witness firsthand, etc. We arrived just in time for the last tour of the day, and thoroughly enjoyed it! If you ever get the opportunity to tour one of the three plants, take advantage of it! The tours are free and absolutely fascinating, the gift shops are fun (for those of us who enjoy things like that :)), but, of course, the best part is the ice cream parlor! Mmmmm…. you have to experience it to know exactly what we’re talking about…
~ Mayfield milk contains no artificial growth hormones
~ The plant can process and package 150,000 gallons of milk on an average day
~ 1 milk truck (you know, the ones you see on the highway that just look like sparkly-clean gasoline carriers) holds 6000 gallons of fresh milk
~ The milk trucks have no cooling system, but are insulated, like a thermos
~ The average cow can give 8 gallons of milk every day
~ It takes all the milk given in a day by 750 cows to fill just one milk truck
~ The plant gets about 20 full trucks every day
~ The milk for this particular plant can come from farms as far away as Indiana, but can only be transported a maximum of 96 hours
~ Milk, arriving in the trucks at above 42 degrees F, is rejected (If that does happen sometime, doesn’t it make you wonder what they would do with 6000 gallons of warm milk?? 🙂 We didn’t get a chance to ask that question…)
~ Once arriving at the plant, the milk is transferred from the trucks into gigantic, metal towers that are kept exactly 23 degrees F even on sweltering summer days (talk about a powerful refrigeration system!!)
~ Mayfield milk gets it’s “distinctly-fresh-all-year-long” taste from a system unique to them, called Aro-Vac. It is a process that heats the milk and removes the steam, which actually serves to withdraw all unusual flavors in the milk that result from undesirable things the cow has eaten (such a onion grass, etc.). Even though this plant packages milk for other brands (particularly Great Value – from Wal-mart), the Aro-Vac system is still used exclusively on the milk labeled Mayfield.
~ Mayfield milk is always packaged in yellow jugs, which keep UV light rays from affecting the taste and decreasing the nutrients
~ The bottling system at Mayfield can produce 6000 sealed, “ready to purchase” gallon jugs every hour, or up to 300 pints a minute
~ Mayfield stamps an expiration date for exactly 18 days after the milk is sealed inside the jug, but the milk is usually still good for 5-10 days after the expiration date
~ After the milk is processed and packaged, it is sent to a giant refrigerator that holds approximately 600,000 gallons
~ Mayfield milk isn’t processed on Wednesday and Sunday
~ Mayfield’s total annual production is 69 million gallons of milk, and 28 million gallons of ice cream!
An interesting thought: next time you have the opportunity to visit or tour any sort of factory, plant, museum, etc., TAKE NOTES and ASK QUESTIONS on what you hear and learn. In our individualistic society, this can have a great impact. No one is used to seeing and meeting people who are interested in the lives of others or things other than themselves. We found that when the guide saw that we were actually interested enough in what he was showing us to WRITE IT DOWN, he was noticeably impacted and we were able to have a more powerful influence for Christ. Plus, I think he threw in a little more interesting trivia, just for the notepad!! 🙂
For several weeks Mommy and we older girls have been listening to “Evenings with Victoria Botkin,” an online class for women and their daughters. It has been a special experience to listen to the wise, godly counsel and instruction from such a sweet woman. This last week, Mrs. Botkin challenged us to be someone that is easy to love and one who is pleasant to be around. She outlined three distinct areas to help us do this. These have been both thought provoking and convicting to me when I applied them to how I relate to my parents and siblings. Once these areas are learned in the home, they will naturally overflow to everyone else around us and will increase our effectiveness for Christ.
-Your personality is the kind of person you are, based on your outlook on life.
-Others appreciate it when your personality reflects respect, gratitude, cheerfulness, courage, faith, love, praise, enthusiasm, and sympathy.
-Show respect by: greeting politely, not interrupting, being a ready listener, serving, making comfortable and happy, and choosing not to use annoying physical motions or gestures.
-SMILE at those around you. We are commanded to be joyful. (Deuteronomy 28; Philippians 4)
-When it is hard to be joyful, encourage yourself in the Lord your God by meditating on His Word. (1 Samuel 30:6)
-Words are some of the most powerful things in the universe. (Proverbs 18:21; Psalm 33:6-9)
-We will give account for all of our words. (James 3:2)
-Tone of voice is vital in speaking.
-Read aloud to learn to use appropriate voice inflection and gain control over the voice.
-In every day, find special ways to make those around you feel special.
-When we do not feel like reaching out to those around us and making their day special, it is often because of deep-rooted pride and bitterness in our hearts.
The morning is beautiful here – looks like it’ll be perfect weather for Resurrection Sunday, when we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! It’s as if the whole earth is rejoicing in the glory and power of it’s Creator, just as I am rejoicing in His unfathomable love in reaching down and rescuing me from the power of death and sin!!! As one of my all-time favorite Easter hymns proclaims:
Christ the Lord is risen today; Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!
Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died, our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where’s thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!
Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids Him rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!
Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!
1Co 15:54, 55, 57 – “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? … But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
ALLELUIA!!!! Praise the Lord!!!
Last weekend, we were blessed with the privilege of hosting a Family Encouragement Weekend Conference (FEW Conference) here in our area. A FEW Conference is a time for imperfect families to come together to be encouraged and inspired in their walk with the Lord and their relationships each other. In August of 2008, and then again in 2009, we were able to attend the first two conferences in northern VA, and ever since the first one, we had been praying about having one here in North Carolina. Finally, the right time came, we picked the date, and planning and preparations began in late January.
As the date of the conference drew closer, it was simply remarkable to watch as the Lord lined up the details. First, when we picked the date (March 27-28), He allowed the Wilkes and Staddon families – our dear friends who helped us host it – to both have that weekend available! Then He miraculously provided the perfect facilities for it. Throughout the entire process, we saw numerous “little” miracles as the Lord led and blessed the project: everything from guiding us to the right theme song, to orchestrating exactly who He wanted us to invite, to providing the heart preparation that we
needed, to stretching the amount of tape that we used to roll the silverware! As we watched His plans unfold, we were amazed and excited to see how He brought the families together and worked in everyone’s hearts.
“God’s will, done God’s way, will never lack God’s supply.”
The weekend finally arrived, and after much enthusiastic preparation, everything was in order and the conference began. During the course of the weekend, we heard sessions on Why Encouragement is Vital, Marriage Harmony, A Form of Godliness, Blessing Your Children, and Developing Character in Your Children. There were also many testimonies from many young people about how the Lord has been working in their lives, and in between times, we had encouraging fellowship with the attending families, group prayer times, music, outside activities, and a few scrumptious meals. [Click here to listen to the messages and testimonies from the weekend.]
One of the most encouraging parts of the conference was simply hearing the hearts of the attending families and seeing how God is working within them. Though we live in a society that is destitute of the knowledge and fear of God, our Heavenly Father is still in control and continues to work amongst His people. “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear…” (Isaiah 59:1) How inspiring it was to realize again that we are not alone in this battle; there are many who are still fighting and living faithfully for the Lord. Because we all need to be reminded of this, we must be constantly encouraging each other in the Lord our God (1 Samuel 30:6), being confident that “he which hath begun a good work in [us] will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6).
May we all continue in the things that we have learned, knowing that it will be worth it all when we see Jesus!!