Monday, December 19, 2011

Easy Christmas Recipes!

Merry Christmas!
My hope and intent for the approaching New Year is that I will be more disciplined to carve out a regular article or post for this lonely Blog. In the meantime, I figured I'd stop by and share a couple of favorite and EASY recipes with you! These are two treats that are continually requested by others whenever they're made. They are not original, although I have added my own tweaks.

On second thought, I'm going to throw in one more my SIL shared with me after I inhaled half of a container of them last Christmas. They're so easy and yummy, you need the recipe too!

Sorry that I'm too lame to have pictures to accompany these recipes. I know that can make or break whether or not you want to try the them, but I'm doing well just get these typed up! 

Unbelievable Toffee! (Unbelievably delish, unbelievably easy!).

One box of plain or honey graham crackers (you will not use the whole box).
Two sticks of butter (yes, the real deal, not margarine!)
One cup of brown sugar (I prefer dark, but either will work).
One package of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Line a jelly roll pan (i.e. cookie sheet with a one inch lip around the edge) with plain graham crackers. You will need to cut and fit in pieces around the edge to cover the entire surface. Baking stone not recommended.

Preheat oven to 350.
In medium sauce pan, melt two sticks of butter, and one cup of brown sugar (dark provides a more serious toffee taste).

Once melted, turn to high. Allow to boil, without stirring (except maybe once when it starts to bubble up really well. It's particularly important not to over stir with the dark brown sugar. For some reason it has trouble melding with the butter if you stir too much). When it is boiling so that it looks foamy, let it remain in that state for about three minutes. You can give it one more brief stir if it looks like it needs it during this stage.

Pour over graham crackers.
Use spatula to smooth over all crackers. 
Bake for 10 min.

Remove and immediately dump one package of semi-sweet choc chips evenly over pan. (You can use milk choc but they do not melt and spread as smooth. I would recommend mixing them with semi sweet. Plus the semi-sweet off-set the sweetness of the toffee layer, so it's the best!). When the chips become shiny, after about five minutes, use spatula or back of spoon to smooth over the surface.

Place in fridge until hard (half an hour or so). Remove and break into pieces. I usually bend my metal pan a bit like an ice cube tray to get a corner lifted (which is one reason a stone pan doesn't work well).

Store in fridge to keep crunchy!

Variations: Add some cayenne pepper or chipotle pepper to butter and brown sugar mixture for chipotle toffee.

Toast almonds or walnuts and sprinkle on top after you smooth choc chips.

Sprinkle just a few white choc chips over the top of the melted and smoothed regular chocolate chips. Allow them to melt and smudge them across the chocolate in a marble design.

I've known two different people that have made these to sell for a fund raiser . . . that's how good they turn out!

Cream Cheese Cookie Bars

These dream bars have all of the elements of eating pleasure: gooeyness, a bit of crispness, edges that are similar to brownies, and density. Mmmmm. 

There are also endless ways to vary the taste. I never actually make this basic recipe (though it still tastes amazing), preferring to add lemon or chocolate to make them flavored to my whim of the day. Suggestions given at the end.

1 stick butter                                                     1 box of powdered sugar
4 eggs, divided                                                 1 8 oz package of cream cheese
1 box of yellow cake mix

Heat oven to 350.
While it is warming, place one stick of butter in 9 x 13 pan and melt in oven. Remove when it is melted.

In a bowl, add 2 eggs to cake mix. Mix with fork until crumbly. Usually seems more like a sticky blob than a crumb mixture but that is how my original recipe reads. 

Sprinkle cake mix over butter and pat down. (aka, drop blobs of the sticky blob all over pan and press down with spatula or back of spoon to cover the bottom fairly well). Butter will be swirling around the edges, letting you know this is going to be yummy!

Mix powdered sugar, cream cheese and other 2 eggs. Pour over first layer and spread evenly.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until lightly browned on top. 

Variations: Lemon bars: Add about three to four Tbl lemon juice to EACH layer of mixture. A little lemon extract won't hurt either.

Chocolate Bars: Add 3 - 5 Tbl Cocoa (to taste) to EACH layer and throw in some chocolate chips to the BOTTOM layer.  Also can use a chocolate cake mix on bottom layer. May choose to leave top layer plain cream cheese or add some cocoa to it.

Experiment with different cake mixes! Carrot cake on bottom with the cream cheese mixture on top would be delicious. Strawberry cake on bottom and maybe 1/4 cup pureed strawberry preserves added to the top layer would be perfect for a little girls birthday!

Praline Mini-Muffins

This is the recipe from my SIL. She calls them Mini Pecan Pie muffins. I think Praline captures their essence more succinctly :) Whatever their name, they can lend themselves to overeating due to their small, innocent-looking size. Beware! Or . . . just make a bunch. Thanks for sharing, Pamela!

**I also think you could easily make this gluten free with a substitute flour. There really isn't much flour in it . . . just enough to bind together.

1 Cup brown sugar
1/2 Cup all purpose flour
1 Cup chopped pecans
2/3 Cup melted butter
2 eggs, beaten

Combine brown sugar, flour, and pecans. Set aside.
Combine butter and beaten eggs. Mix well.
Stir in flour mixture. Stir just until moistened. Fill greased mini-muffin pans 3/4 full. (If you know your pan has sticking problems, you may want to grease and flour the pan as well. These are a bit sticky for a muffin, and I have trouble getting them out of one pan, but not another).

Cook about ten minutes, until light brown. These store well in air tight container.

One thing that stands out after typing these three favorites: Butter makes for some fabulous desserts! Woohoo!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Authentic Faith for our Families

A dear friend just passed on the following article to me via email. It is so accurate and revealing of so many of our 'good' though misguided intentions as Christian families today, that I felt compelled to pass it on to you! 

Although the article speaks to a phenomenon happening in homeschooling families, it is just as applicable to any Christian family seeking to raise godly children who own their faith. Who among us doesn't know a Christian family who has lost their children to the world? Maybe even our own children have gone off to see 'what they've been missing.'

How do we avoid contributing to our children's rejection of what we hold dear? Or perhaps the question is: will they model what they may see in us: an outward appearance of godliness while the inside is a clutter of problems and hypocrisy? Neither scenario is something we desire for our children, yet this is often the case in so many homes today. 

The following article is quite lengthy, so you may want to click and print it for when you can sit a spell and take it in. I pray God will use it to reverse any negative trends you see in your family as you pursue Christ and seek to glorify Him in every little nuance of your heart!

Click here for the article.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Avoiding What is False

“Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in His holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who has not set his mind on what is false.”
Psalm 24:3-4

I came across this verse in Psalms yesterday while I was having my devotion time. Scripture is so multi-faceted that there’s always something new, even in a familiar passage. 
When I read the last line, “who has not set his mind on what is false,” I was aware of just how many things I falsely dwell on. Not necessarily sinful things in and of themselves, just false things. Do you see the nuance there?
There’s nothing wrong with having a pedicure or going out to lunch or even sitting and reading a magazine. However, if that is not what the Lord has asked me to do with my time for the day, and I am neglecting that thing He expects of me, then I am dwelling on what is false. This equates to sin.
Am I listening to the voices of other’s that say, “You need to expect your daughter to go to college,” when it is clear that God’s call is for her to be a missionary? College isn’t a bad thing, and it may even be necessary to become a missionary, but there are other ways to reach that goal as well; am I willing to entertain those options?
The false voices are often well-meaning: “have a hobby,” “make sure you have some time for yourself,” “you should always have dinner ready by the time your husband gets home,” “you should be helping in the children’s ministry,” etc.
But those voices are not necessarily the voice of the Holy Spirit. If I am falling into performance mode, and becoming a people pleaser, a lover of self, or making an idol of my home in some way, than the Lord will take issue with that thing, and what is a neutral subject becomes sin in my life.
I must always prayerfully evaluate my use of time and my inner thoughts as well. Busyness, good intentions, and thoughts that are not yielded to the mind of Christ can soil my soul, wear me out, and drive a wedge in earthly and heavenly relationships. This is experience talking! 
Been there, done that, prefer to avoid it!
Ask the Father to reveal any falsehood in your life today. Remember that James assures us that if we lack wisdom, we should “ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing.” When we repent of our falsehood, He is faithful to meet us where we have are and allow us to begin again, right then and there.
 Amazing grace, isn’t it?!

Monday, June 27, 2011

How God Turns Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones

God does all things well . . . even when we aren’t paying attention!
As you may know from my other posts, I have a son who has mild autism. He is eighteen years old now, and he just finished high school! Well, sort of. But I’ll get to that in a bit.
Let’s rewind about 18 years. 
Cute baby, full head of hair (so full he had a haircut before he was two months old!), and hungry. Hungry because he has no idea how to suck. Takes him nearly an hour to latch onto anything: a bottle or myself. 
Therefore, he’s not sleeping well because he’s hungry. Therefore, no one else is sleeping well. I call doctors and lactation consultants; no one really knows what’s going on. 
Sleep deprivation doesn’t look very good on me. 
Rewind a bit further, to a week before his birth, and you’d see my husband’s place of employment closing its doors a couple of weeks before Christmas. You’d see us taking Christmas presents back to the store to have money to live on. You’d see that everyone has already hired their Christmas help and so there’s no work for my man. 
Exciting times!
Yet, perfectly timed, because it took two full time at-home parents to function on very little sleep to care for this little guy who was just eating enough to make it for an hour or two 24/7. I was so thankful to have my husband home with me, money or not, to keep me sane. 
Oh yes, we also had our first daughter, who was 17 months old, when the little man came into our lives. 
I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow of the hard times we had when the kids were young. You could sum things up with the idea of two more girls becoming part of the family, and money being pretty doggone tight for more years than we would have voted for struggling along--if God had taken a vote. 
When my son was 3 1/2 we decided something must be wrong. I tried not to compare him to his older sister, but eventually we knew there was more than a typical “boy delay” happening. We were consistent with discipline but felt that no child would have such a strong will that he would purposefully get himself into as much trouble as he did.
We knew he could hear because he would respond to noises and he was talking a little. But we wondered if he might have hearing problems, since he ignored most of what we told him to do. Or maybe he changed his name, preferring to keep us in the dark as to what name he would respond to. That was the best explanation we had, so we decided to send him to some experts.
We had his hearing and language assessed through a free program that the public schools offered. He was found to be fairly delayed in most areas. Their suggestion was to put him in special-education preschool. 
Any help that someone was willing to offer was welcome. The elementary school he was to attend was one block from our house, yet he would get to ride a bus. Sweet. I wouldn’t have to pack up his sisters at the crack of dawn and unload everyone to walk him to class. Yet putting him on the bus the first few days was heartbreaking, even if he was only riding it for all of 45 seconds.
What was wrong with my little boy? Would the “experts” at the school be able to help? 
His teacher was terrific. She’d been teaching special education for 15 years and was a Christian. She had a heart to help the kids and desired to see them succeed. 
It was soon apparent that Garrett was the highest functioning child . . . with the biggest behavior problem by far. He was constant motion. He could not sit still. He could not keep his hands to himself. He could not be still enough for a nap (he’s had sleeping issues all of his life), and he rarely obeyed. 
His teacher told me that she really wanted to praise him more, since he seemed to always be in trouble, but, “as the words are coming out of my mouth, when I see him doing something right, he inevitably begins to do something wrong before I’ve finished speaking.” This was as true of a statement as I had heard. Welcome to my world!

Long story somewhat short . . . we eventually had him tested and found out that he had something called Pervasive Developmental Disorder: Not Otherwise Specified. PDD-NOS for short. Autism for super-short. 
By the time he was old enough for kindergarten, his school wanted to mainstream him into regular classes. This was an absurd idea to his teacher and myself, but other “experts” decided he was too “high functioning” to qualify for full-time special education. Said experts hadn't spent much time hanging around class and observing his behavior, I presumed.
My husband and I were already homeschooling his older sister and it seemed best to do the same with our son. His teacher was in full agreement. “He needs one-on-one,” she said. Yup.
So, what did one-on-one look like for this complex little boy? It looked like special diets, experimental herbs and supplements, and lots and lots of therapy. 

Years of therapy. 
It would take us from breakfast to dinner to get through all of the things he needed. It was supposed to take 3 uninterrupted hours, but with three other children in the house there was no such thing as “uninterrupted” slices of time.
I can remember describing my day to my husband as follows: Every morning I get up and crawl into a big long tunnel made out of brambles. I try to make it through with the least amount of scratches and injuries as possible. When I make it to the end of the tunnel, I get to go to bed! Waking up meant I started over, at the beginning of the tunnel. 

'Everyday' things were a big ordeal. Riding in the car and going grocery shopping were a test of patience and tenacity. Going to bed at night was difficult because it was so hard for him to fall asleep. If he was still for 60 seconds he would conk out, but he wouldn’t stay in bed. We were thrilled to discover the doorknob covers that were hard for kids to grip and turn. He had poor finger strength so we were able to use the doorknob cover for quite a few years. With no possibility of escaping from his room, he would eventually give up his quest and fall asleep.
He had a penchant for playing with hair. Not just any hair. Freshly pulled hair. His older sister had a head full of springy curls that just beckoned to be plucked on a regular basis. 
Scaring animals was sublime entertainment. Anything on a screen would mesmerize him to no end. Repetitive noises were one of his favorite ways to entertain himself. To this day I’m highly sensitive to whistling. Please refrain.
But God was at work. We prayed and cried and sought help. We often couldn’t see the forest for the trees, but God was faithful. He gave us patience and strength and friends that were willing to help. He showed us our selfishness and taught us love and sacrifice. 
He convicted me of my pride when He showed me that one reason I wanted my son to behave was so that he wouldn’t embarrass me and make me look like a bad parent. Ouch.
The Lord taught me how to parent in His strength and not my own. How to respond to poor behavior for the thousandth time with sweetness in my voice, rather than scorn and contempt. He showed me my sinful heart and His righteousness, as he taught me how to love in His strength. That’s not to say that I’ve got it all down, but over the years I’ve struggled less and less. Sin still likes to rear its ugly head!
Fast forward to the summer before his ninth grade year. I mused to a friend that I felt “stuck” with my son. That it seemed I couldn’t get him any further (in any area) for the last few years. 
“Maybe I should see if he could get some special services from the local high school,” I wondered aloud. 
“Why not enroll him full-time?” My friend asked.
I had a million reasons why, or so I thought, but I prayed about what she said. I made some phone calls and talked to a counselor, and the next thing I knew, he was enrolled. 
This proved just as providential as our decision to homeschool. Great teachers, new friends with similar challenges and interests, a variety of classes I couldn’t offer at home . . . it was a wonderful fit for everyone!
Four years of high school flew by and June 3rd--graduation day--I found myself prayerfully reminiscing about the mysterious ways of Time. Looking back at what issues my son struggled with that deeply affected him, as well as the rest of us, I had to be amazed at how far we all had come!
Though he still struggles with self-control in certain areas, our day-to-day lives are so different from when he was small. No more “brambles.” Smiles, laughter, and a general feeling of pleasantness are the characteristics that we enjoy on a daily basis. 
Riding in a car, going shopping, being in a room full of people (even people with curly hair!) are no longer issues! He sits still and joins in discussions in youth group and school. He shakes hands and looks people in the eye when he meets them and says, “yes, sir/ma’am” when speaking to adults. He’s quick with a joke and will sit for hours and listen to me read (if I can last as long as he would like!). He has an ear for music, a great voice and is considered “invaluable” by his choir teacher. 
Yes. This is my son

And--wow!--what an awesome, faithful God we serve! He doesn’t always give us what we ask, but He does give us EXACTLY what we need. As I sat contemplating all of this I was overwhelmed with thankfulness.
There are a few particular areas that he still struggles with. Some of them big, big issues. At times it can be so discouraging when we see him overcome by sin. I realized, as I sat contemplating his life that day, that I’d almost given up hope that things could improve in these specific areas.
And I had to repent.
Change can happen so subtly when we are in the trenches that we’re blind to its occurrence. Hindsight is a great teacher and that day it renewed my hope--and my faith--for victory in these other areas as well.
In fact, on that last day of school, my son, the senior, brought home some projects he’d been working on through the school year. One was a terrific self-portrait, complete with a description he typed with his own unique spelling, that read:
“My name is _____, I love my friends and love food around the world Love pizza and pasta and the place I love to eat is at Cicis pizza and pull off pranks on people. The three things I want to work on is listen better o bay the last thing is stay out of trouble. I am a funny outgoing kind of person, I have an extended family some I haven’t seen before. I cannot wait win [when] on my big day win I go out in the world and win I graduate and I love my DS and I have brown hair and brown eyes.”
The whole project left me choked up; but to read that he was aware and desirous of working on the three things he listed was further evidence of God being at work in ways where I’d been losing faith. And by His great providence, He timed the unveiling of my son’s work with the unveiling of His work in our lives during my quiet time earlier in the day. The impact was so much greater, the blessing that much sweeter.
Watching him walk across that stage a few weeks ago was a milestone none of us will forget. We cheered and screamed and were so proud; he was searching for us in the crowd (he could hear us!) and beaming as he made his way across the platform.
There’s still a long road ahead. Although he was a “senior” this year, he actually gets to stay in the special-ed program for another three years. He will continue to work on life skills and vocational training. He will continue to have many ways in which he can practice, “listening, obeying, and staying out of trouble.” He has one of the best teachers prayer’s could ask for; someone who holds him to the same standards we do.
But he only gets to walk the stage this once. And as we watched him parade into the auditorium with his classmates, take his seat and listen respectfully, stand at the right time, and wait patiently in line to cross the stage . . . we weren’t aware, right then, of how each of those things were a culmination of year upon year, line upon line, precept upon precept, and many answered prayers. 
However, slowing down and getting this chance to reflect helps me see how all of those stumbling blocks along the way were used by our heavenly Father as stepping stones on a gently ascending path. Americans crave (even expect) the gratification of instant success; but how satisfying the victory when it happens through sacrifice, hard work, leaning on one another, and being the recipients of graciously answered prayers.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Susan Marlow Strikes Again!

Fans of Susan K. Marlow’s Circle C Series will be glad to discover—if they haven’t already—the Circle C Beginnings book series! Geared for the younger cowpokes in your home (ages 6-8), Circle C Beginnings chapter books brings the earlier adventures of Andi Carter and crew to your younger readers.
In Andi’s Fair Surprise, Andi and her family take a train to the California State Fair. Andi has never been to the fair and has no idea what to expect. She’s not so sure she even wants to go, especially if it means leaving her beloved horse Taffy at home.
The sights and sounds and displays that greet Andi create a world of wonder for the six-year-old in the late 1800’s. Besides getting her own money to spend each day of the weeklong fair, she is also given a ticket that might win a prize! Andi makes some new friends, watches a ‘thrill show,’ and learns that big sisters and brothers can be pretty special. Friends and family take home ribbons for everything from roosters to jelly . . . and Andi has her eyes on a prize or two as well!  
Andi’s first day of school is a memorable one, not necessarily for the best of reasons, in Andi’s Scary School Days. Hiding doesn’t keep Andi from having to get dressed up and head to school. Climbing a tree doesn’t keep her from the one room schoolhouse either.  As things go from bad to worse from the first day of school to the second, Andi decides that desperate times call for desperate measures!
Your early readers will enjoy frolicking along with Andi as her impetuous spirit and tomboy personality take them along from one escapade to the next! But Andi isn’t allowed to get away with poor behavior; natural consequences and lessons learned round out each adventurous tale (told from a Christian worldview).
The black and white illustrations from artist Leslie Gammelgaard add lively impact, reflecting the fun and fearlessness that Andi embraces. Your readers will also appreciate the “New Words” list, at the beginning of each Andi book, explaining terms that may be unfamiliar. “A Peek into the Past,” at the end of each book gives some background on life in the late 1800’s relevant to Andi’s stories.
Parents and kids alike will appreciate the FREE coloring pages and learning activities that are available to print out from the Circle C website. Also, A Journey Through Learning has created Lap Books that can be made with the Readers, in order to make the Circle C Beginnings book part of a Unit Study. Adding these teacher helps will make Circle C Beginnings a truly educational experience, one your child will misconstrue as plain ol’ fun!
For a review of other Circle C Beginnings books, click here. If you’d like to read a review from the original Circle C books (chapter books for tweens), click here.To purchase any and all of the Andi books, published by Kregel, click here. And to visit Susan K. Marlow’s website, you can click here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

If God, Why Evil?

Earthquakes. Tsunamis. War. Murder. Kidnapping.
One doesn’t have to look hard to find bad news. It seems to be oozing into every fiber of society on a grand scale. The heartbreak in Japan, the killing of innocent citizens in Libya, the abortion clinic down the street...evil has many faces and can leave us asking the Question of the Ages: “Why?”
Although Believers have hope in the midst of tragedies, we still find ourselves lacking sufficient answers when the world—or our neighbor—asks, “Where is God? Doesn’t he care?”
If-God-Why-Evil-Norman-Geisler-189x300.jpgWe may even ask such questions ourselves. 

Dr. Norman Geisler’s new book, If God, Why Evil? seeks to answer this seemingly elusive and age-old question.
Defining evil and laying out the common arguments from atheists and agnostics, Dr. Geisler explains the dichotomy of how it is that evil exists with permission from the omnipotent and all-good God of the Universe. If God, Why Evil? gives sound answers, taking apart our common questions and objections and exposing the logical end to such arguments. Using clear, common examples in conjunction with scripture, Dr. Geisler clears up many misconceptions about the existence and operation of evil. 
For instance, he explains that evil is not merely the opposite of good. The fact is, evil cannot exist without there being good. 
Moths can corrupt a woolen sweater, but holes do not exist in themselves. They exist only in other things. Again, a totally moth-eaten garment has ceased to exist. Evil is a real corruption, but it is not a real thing (substance).” (pg. 20)

Such useful explanations, along with scripture defining God, sin, evil etc. are liberally used throughout this practical book. Some of issues discussed throughout this 167 page  easy-read are: The views, nature and origin of evil, The persistence and purpose of evil, miracles and evil, and even eternal evil (aka hell). The complexity of evil is dissected in a user-friendly way, helping the reader grasp issues that normally trip them up.
The end of the book also contains three appendixes that deal with some deeper--yet related--issues, including a biblical critique of the popular book The Shack. Although written as a fiction book, the underlying (and mistaken) views of God are seeping into modern theology which in turn causes a watered down understanding of God’s holiness and his nature, leading to misconceptions about evil itself. 
If God, Why Evil? is available from Bethany House publishers, and sells for $14.99. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review of the contents.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

It's a Marshmallow World in My Mind

Happy 1-1-11! 

Here we are, once again, at the beginning of a brand spankin’ new year. But if you haven’t taken your Christmas decorations down, like me, it may still feel like last year hasn’t officially come to a close. Sort of a befuddled-between-years sort of thing.
Happens to me every year. 
Another thing that happens is my desire--and failure--to somehow slow Christmas down. Savor it more. Bake more with the kids. Do some special crafts. Take time to shop in a leisurely manner. (Yeah, not really living in reality, I know). Allow the meaning of ‘God incarnate’ to sink in a few layers deeper than the year before. 
But life happens. We seem to get plowed over with end of semester stuff. Good stuff, most of it. Rehearsals, recitals, and the like. Parties. Church. Travel. The line between Thanksgiving and Christmas gets blurred in a flurry of activities.
Inevitably, my nostalgic side wonders how I could have done things different, made more memories. The practical side argues that you can’t change things outside of your little sphere of influence. The visionary side looks ahead to the new year and says, “it’s a land of opportunity and you have a huge list of things to conquer!”. The cynical side reminds my optimistic thoughts that the list is the same as last year with a few more things added  . . . making it longer than ever. 
Last night we enjoyed a lovely New Year’s Eve party with some friends. Friends that are organized. The party was structured with time for fellowship sprinkled between times of organized fun such as: a Christian comedian, live music, building a “snowless” snowman, having devotions, communion, and fireworks. Within the course of the evening the hostess remarked that during the summer she made-over both of her girl’s bedrooms.

Wow. There’s not a room in my house that doesn’t have a project waiting on me to get my act together enough to tackle. Take my front door for instance. We got a new one about two years ago. It needs to either be stained or painted. I’ve gone to Home Depot and brought home paint swatches. Picked out some trippin’ red paint. I barely had the color picked out when I heard all sorts of awful things about Home Depot and decided to boycott it. I can get the color swatch matched at Lowes or some other spot, I assure myself. 
But, I haven’t. 
I still have a naked, boring door.
One of the speakers at last night’s party discussed the importance of setting goals. And writing them down. Seems there’s something sort of magical about making goals more concrete by putting them on paper. Gave some impressive statistics about those that are purposeful in setting goals.
A few years ago, I resolved “not to resolve” anything as far as New Year’s resolutions are concerned. Because all of my best intentions fall by the wayside leaving me deflated and defeated. Year after year. I’m convinced that unless God changes me, it ain’t gonna change. And I still believe that . . .
However, last night got me thinking. I tend to let life happen to me. I am a “go with the flow” sort of person. I will never be accused of being a Type ‘A’ personality. I see the big picture of what needs to get done but am fairly inept at nailing down the nitty-gritty details of how it’s accomplished. I work much better under pressure than under my own paced out plans. 
Probably because I never make paced out plans. 
But maybe it’s time for a change. It occurred to me that my best-laid ideas rarely get past the foggy-floating-around-notion sort of phase. Most of the time I think of things that need to get done when I’m in bed; not the most opportune time. Yep, better remember to get on that . . . zzzzzz.

Maybe it’s time to write some things down. I’m not talking about getting overly ambitious, here. I can be a realistic optimist. I’m not going to think that writing down “redo guest bath” will bring in the elves to make it happen while I sleep (devastatingly sad!). But maybe if I make a list with things like, “paint the door in the bathroom,” and, “buy some baskets to organize the shelves,” it will break the project down into doable steps that may actually allow me to redo the guest bath! Amazing concept! (And even if I don’t get it ALL done, anything is an improvement, right?).
So, how about you? Maybe you ARE a Type A personality and you need to have more fun? Hey, schedule it into your Daytimer--I know you own one!!! In the meantime, I’m going to breakdown the big picture into little puzzle pieces that I can work with. A little accountability will do me good. 
Feel free to tap me on my cyber-shoulder this year and ask how my list is going! Is it getting any smaller? Is it growing? Am I morphing into a Type ‘A’ little by little?
Whatever your goals, your frustrations, your dreams or needs, I pray God will bless you this coming year. May you have a heart of gratitude for the many blessings, of all sizes, that are part of your life. May you look at trials as opportunities for God to show His glory through you. May your relationships bring you joy! 
And may little elves come and do the dirty work for all of us . . . wash baseboards, dust tall ledges, touch up chipped paint and organize our closets . . .etc. (It could be a long, long list!).

At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.