Saturday, February 15, 2014

Snow Sadness

I wish I could describe the lovely scene that lay outside my window.  The fluffy snow floated down onto a landscape becoming increasingly white.  Sitting in my living room by the fire and watching the beauty unfold was like residing in a story book for just a while.  The silence was marvelously calm. . . and then the calm was spectacularly broken as we sledded down our hill on cardboard boxes.

Am I the only one who liked the snow?  The recent snowfall events – that are not so terribly uncommon to the south – have been spoken of as if they were natural disasters.  They have been given exaggerated and punny names: “Snowpocalypse,” “Snowmaggedon,” “Snowjam” and now “Iceolation” and “Snoverdose.”  No one seems to comment on its loveliness, or its capacity for fun.  You would think those fluffy white crystals were aliens from outer space, invading our planet with evil intentions to stop our traffic.

Maybe it is easy for me to view it positively.  I didn’t spend the night in my Ford Focus, enduring the freezing temperatures.  I didn’t hike for miles on icy roads or through the slush.  I haven’t even lost power.  So I don’t mean to make light of the fact that real hardship resulted for many.  Still, the snow is not quite a hurricane or earthquake.  And, for myself, I am grateful to have been able to enjoy it.

Naturally, my family celebrated with food.  Finding activities for four kids over multiple snow days wasn’t easy.  But my “go to” adventure usually lies in the kitchen.  We made gingerbread cookies, in all kinds of shapes – not just gingerbread men.  We made horses, trains, stars and hearts that were, at one time, meant for the neighbors but somehow never made it that far.

We took out the cake mold a good friend gave to us and finally made the giant cupcake that had been on my To-Do list for months.  I got lazy and used cake mix instead of making one from scratch, but everyone had a great time applying icing and coating it with sprinkles.

There was no lack of activities, or at the very least movies and TV to watch.  But like probably every other family prevented by the snow from leaving home, we got cabin fever.  We got grumpy, irritable and cranky, tired of looking at each other and tired of looking at our four walls.  This is where the rubber meets the road in terms of good relations.  At times like this, we need to exercise our tolerance.  We need to get creative in our persistent efforts at calm, and to stretch our patience to make it more durable.

To me, it feels a lot like church. 

God gave us the gift of church – our faith community – for a lot of good reasons.  Our Christian brothers and sisters support us on our journey.  They walk alongside, sharing experience and advice. They give us a hand up when we trip.  They also get grumpy, cranky and irritable.  They can be hard to get along with; they disagree with our best ideas; step on our toes.  And so do we.  The gift of the church is the building up of our getting-along-with-others muscles.  Through this continual workout – if we don’t give
up – we will find the many blessings that come from sharing God’s love with our neighbors.

Just like the snow, there is beauty and challenge in every gift from God.  It requires persistence and patience to root it out, but the effort is always worth it.

Blessed eating!

Gingerbread Cookies

1 c. shortening                                   1 c. sugar
1 egg                                                    1 c. molasses
2 T. vinegar                                         5 c. pl. flour
1 ½ t. soda                                           ½ t. salt
1 T. ginger                                           1 t. each cinnamon & cloves
Cream shortening and sugar.  Add egg, molasses, and vinegar.  Sift in remaining ingredients.  Mix well.  Chill 3 hours.  Roll thin on a floured surface.  Cut into shapes and place 1 inch apart on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 375o for 5-6 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack. – Laura Taylor

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine’s Day

No one is sure about the original Saint Valentine.  More than once saint with that name existed in our history.  The most talked about, however, was a martyr – executed for officiating marriages which, in the third century, were banned throughout the Roman Empire.  February 14 was named by Pope Gelasius as the day to honor St. Valentine in the 5th century, (also serving the purpose of Christianizing an earlier pagan festival) though it wasn’t until the 13th century that the day became associated with love and romance.

Today, card-makers and other commercial industries – bless them – have broadened the holiday even further to make it about love of all kinds, not just romantic.  There are red Valentine toys for kids and cards addressed to sons, daughters, friends and neighbors.

The holiday also seems to be marked by sweet things to eat.  Maybe you got a box of chocolates today.  If you did, enjoy!  If not, the recipe below is a great way to celebrate the day.  I hope you enjoy it. 

As we celebrate this day, may we remember the greatest – in fact the only – source of love we have.  God our creator, revealed in Jesus Christ, offering us the blessing of indescribable love on this and every day.

Blessed eating!

Strawberry Dessert

Layer #1                                        Layer #2                                              
1 ½ c. biscuit mix                        1 ½ c. confectioners sugar 
1 ½ sticks margarine, melted   8 oz. cream cheese                           
1 c. ch. pecans                            12 oz Cool Whip                                

 Layer #3
1-2 pints strawberries
1 pack strawberry glaze
12 oz. Cool Whip

Layer #1  Mix all ingredients.  Press into a greased 9x13 inch pan.  Bake 15 minutes at 375o or until lightly brown.  Cool.

Layer #2  Mix sugar and cream cheese.  Fold in Cool Whip.  Spread over cooled crust.

Layer #3  Chop strawberries and mix with glaze. Spread mixture over second layer.  Top with 12 oz.  Cool whip.  May add chopped pecans or strawberries on top for decoration. – Lisa Lawson