Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Favorite Things Cookies - Recipe


Okay, I had to put the song in there, as it influenced the name of these cookies.  They are a combination three of our family's favorite cookies - Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, and Peanut Butter.  They can also be gluten and dairy free, if you use allergy-free versions of oats and chocolate chips, and would probably be very good with almond butter or sunflower butter, if you can't have peanut butter.  I haven't tried these options, so if you do, please leave  a comment and let me know how they work out!  I just like that they are super-easy, super-fast, and don't use a lot of dishes!

My Favorite Things Cookies
(about 20 cookies)
Ingredients:

1 c. peanut butter
1 c. sugar (white makes them a little crisper, brown a little softer)
1 c. oatmeal
1/2 cup (or more) chocolate chips
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Instructions:
  • Mix all ingredients together.  It doesn't matter what order - just stick it all in a bowl.  (I actually measure the dry ingredients first so that I only have to use one measuring cup.)
  • Form balls, place on an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten (I use my hands for this - it's kind of like working with chunky play-doh).
  • Cook at 350 degrees until browned - approximately 12 minutes.
  • Let sit on the cookie sheet for a couple minutes until they set a bit.
  • Remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  • If there are any cookies left by the time they are cool, put them in a sealed container to keep them fresh.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Overcoming

Sometimes life seems so hard.  You look around, and everybody is going through something.  Death, or sickness, or poverty, or loss of someone or something precious or important to them.  The prayer list at church seems to grow by the week.  How can this be right?  How can God expect us to withstand the onslaught of trouble that threatens to plow us over and bury us?  Does he even know we're here?  Does he even care that we're drowning?

Do you know that God is there?  I mean, do you really know?  Or, as my pastor says, do you know, that you know, that you know, that God really is there watching over you?  Can you be sure?

There is a way.  We can know.  We are not all that we seem, just as our situation is not all that we can see.  Many times we go through life in only one plane.  The present.  The here-and-now.  The visible world.  But the Bible teaches us that there is more.  We are more.  The physical, time-bound life that we experience with our five senses is only a tiny part of reality.  In Ephesians 6, Paul tells us that we are not fighting against "flesh and blood," in this physical world, but against "spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."  There is a whole battle going on around us that we can't see, feel, taste, hear, or smell.

We are not simply intelligent animals, as some would have us believe.  God gave human beings a spirit, not just a body and a mind.  That is the part that is "in His image." (Gen. 1:26)  And as spiritual beings, we are alive in a way we can never experience fully in these mortal bodies.  We experience our bodies as finite things, having an inside and an outside, able to be hurt, sickened, and finally killed.  And we are right.  That is exactly what our flesh is.  Mortal, temporary, and imperfect.  But the rest of us - the spirit part - ah, that is something altogether different.  Our spirits are not mortal, but eternal.  They are not bound to this world, the world of touch and see, but are free.  They can soar to the heights of Heaven, or plunge to the depths of Hell.  And amazingly, our creator gave us the choice of which direction we wanted to go.

The truth is, that we are in a battle.  And it is bigger than politics or money or health.  It is bigger than starvation or homelessness or disease.  It is cosmic.  It is a battle for souls.  A battle for eternity.  A battle for ultimate power.  And the good news is, we know what happens at the end.  People are fond of predicting when the end will come.  I don't pretend to know.  But I know what will happen.  The book of Revelation tells me that there will be a great battle, but at the end, God will win.  One of my favorite passages of the Bible is Revelation 21:1-5: - Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Did you get that?  God wins.  The second and third chapters of Revelation consist of letters to seven churches.  Each letter includes a warning, but each one also contains a promise.  The promise is always to "him who overcomes."  The promises are amazing.  The right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.  To not be hurt at all by the second death.  Some of the hidden manna and a white stone with a new name written on it.  Authority over the nations, and the morning star.  White clothing and a permanent inscription in the book of life, along with acknowledgement to God and the angels.  To be made a pillar in the temple of God.   The right to sit with Jesus on his throne!  Wow.  What promises.  But how, oh, how, do we overcome?

Jesus told us how to overcome.  Much of the book of John consists of Jesus' last instructions to his disciples.  John 15:10-12 reads "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this:  Love each other as I have loved you."  Later, in John 16:33, Jesus tells his disciples "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."

We are in this world.  We will have trouble.  When trouble comes, we should understand that it is temporary, for a moment, and our Savior knew that it would happen.  We need to go through it in order to overcome it.  And how do we overcome?  Only with love.  Love enables us to do the right thing.  Love enables us to endure the pain without becoming angry or abusive.  Love enables us to look beyond our sadness to help those around us who are dealing with it too.  Love enables us to see the needs around us and to live sacrificially to make life better for someone else.  Love enables us to pray into the night when we are tired and long for sleep.  And love enables us to keep our eyes on God, instead of on our troubles.

I know how easy it is to wallow in misery.  I am an old pro at throwing pity parties for myself.  Balloons, streamers, and cake all around!  But I know this is not what God wants for me.  When I'm focusing on my troubles, I'm trapped in this world.  I'm not experiencing the freedom that I know I have in Jesus, in my spirit.  So I'm going to have to change my party plans.  I am going to live in the joy of the Lord.  And I am going to overcome.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Perseverance!

I am so proud of my boy!  He is working on Geometry this year for math, and has really enjoyed drawing the geometric constructions in his curriculum.  There have been a few tears, but he is gaining more confidence in his abilities.

Well, his history/literature curriculum required him to learn about the Quakers and write about them in his notebook.  During his research, he found this (ignore the pencil marks!):
Quaker Star
So, he decided to replicate it for math.  He thought he was getting away with something...heeheehee... by not working in his actual math book.  It turned out a little trickier than he thought.  So, one day and several failed attempts later, he finally came up with this:
Rory's Quaker Star

I am so proud!  This is the kid who got so irritated with his Draw Write Now book in first grade that he never finished it, because he couldn't make the pictures look right.  He is finally learning to keep trying, to not get upset, and to accept his best as good enough.  This is the only "school" subject he did today, but he learned so much more than geometry or history, don't you think?


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