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Baking Christmas Gifts-the Gift that Keeps on Giving

Do the holidays cause you to reminisce?  My thoughts are traveling back to Christmases past.

  • Cutting a real Christmas tree and my sister, Missy, and I trying to get it in the stand.
  • Wrapping presents with the comics from newspapers.
  • Finding oranges, apples and nuts in our stockings (along with a book of Lifesavers, and chocolate covered cherries.)
  • The anticipation I felt waiting on Christmas Eve for Santa to come.
  • Cooking Christmas treats to share with friends.

Cooking strawberry bread was one of my favorites.  One of the recipes we used required you to cook the bread in metal coffee cans. (I wonder if that was a cooking phase, and if any of you tried that recipe years ago.)

As I was thinking about this bread today I began to think about the opportunities that came with it.  This was a family cooking project.  We came together in the kitchen to cook.  We talked about who we would like to bless with our cooked bread.  Those were good conversations.

Creating a space for children to learn about giving is a rich opportunity.  When Mom allowed me input it helped me to become more invested in the giving.  I wanted to see the reaction on peoples’ faces when they received the gift we made with so much tender loving care.

Mom has had my children out to help her, even when they were young, as she made gifts for the postman and the garbage collector.  What an awesome lesson to teach children to see our community helpers and thank them for what they do to help.

But these goodies can become even more than a thank you.  As I am writing I am realizing there is a dear friend who is in her 90’s.  We could take bread to this year.  She would probably like the bread, but she would LOVE the visit from our children.  We could take tea and cut her some bread while we visit.  To know she had been thought of, planned for and cared about could be one of her favorite gifts this season.  All we need is a loaf of bread and a little time.

There is a friend who has little several little children .  It is harder for them to get out of the house right now.  We could go visit them and plan a little tea party for her little ones.  The recipe: a blanket, some apple cider and strawberry bread..

Maybe you do not have children who will be cooking with you this season…not a deal breaker.  Turn on your favorite Christmas songs and enjoy singing while you cook.  As you cook maybe your questions may be different.  Who would you like to sit with for a little while?  Maybe there is a lady you have admired from a distance but have not taken the time to engage.  This could be your opportunity.  Call her and ask her if she might like to visit…you’ll bring the bread.

You know Jesus called himself the “bread of life.” He said, “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.” (John 6:35)

As you go, He goes with you.  He has always loved the one in front of Him so well.  He will help you to do the same.  Honestly, none of us need just another good thing to do.  This is an invitation to step out of the usual hustle and bustle.

Enjoy the opportunity to gather.

 

 

Lucy’s Strawberry Bread

3 cups of flour                                     1 cup of pecans (optional)

2 cups sugar                                         1 t. salt

1 small pkg. frozen strawberries      4 eggs beaten

3 t. cinnamon                                       1  1/4 cup oil

1 t. baking soda

 

Sift all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.  Make a deep hole in the center of the dry ingredients.  Pour the rest of the ingredient into the hole.  Stir carefully.  Only stir enough to dampen and mix the ingredients.  Pour into well greased bread pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. I used one large bread pan and one medium bread pan.

I test all my bread with a stick test with an Amish Broom Cake Tester before taking them out of the oven.  This often looks done on the top but the center may not be completely done. There is a wonderful invention that looks like a small handheld broom but it is only for cooking.  By breaking off piece and sticking it into the bread you can see if the bread if done on the inside.  A clean stick means the bread is ready.  If some dough comes out on the stick it need to cook some more.  This is probably one of my faves in the kitchen. If the top of your bread looks brown and the center needs more time you can loosely lay a piece of aluminum foil over the top until you are finished to keep the top from burning.

I saw a bread pan at William Sonoma the other day and am kicking myself for not grabbing it for this recipe.  It is absolutely beautiful and I think this bread would be beautiful in it.Nordic War Anniversary Loaf Pan If you wanted to bump it up even another notch you could sift powder sugar over the top of the loaf just before serving.

I would love to hear you feedback.  Post in the comments about how you like the bread. We would all love to hear your success in gathering stories.  When you share we all get the blessing of your ideas! It would be wonderful if your success lead to the success of another and another and another…

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Rocks and Remembrences

 

I have a bowl of rocks.  It sounds funny, but it I do.  Many years ago we began recording on rocks the ways God was working on our behalf.  The idea came from when Joshua and the Hebrews crossed the Jordan River (that God had parted) on dry ground.  One man from each tribe chose a rock from the middle of the sea and carried it to the other side.  The people made a monument with the rocks to remember God’s faithfulness.

In was interesting because when we were making our rock remembrances it felt like some of these victories were so big it was stupid to write them down.  How would we forget?

One day, years later, I stopped and read a rock or two.  I was shocked.  I stood there looking at a rock that blew my mind.  On that rock was an event that I had not thought of in years.  It was a big victory.  Amazing and mind boggling.  Suprisingly I had forgotten it.  I had forgot a huge win.

Joshua chapter 12 is truly fascinating! This chapter is a list of the enemies the Israelites defeated when they came into the Promised Land. This list records of every military victory they had. God promised the Israelites that everywhere they went they would take ground.  This list confirms that God was telling the truth. There is a entire chapter to prove it.

God recorded these victories. He wanted his children to be able to to return to this list over and over and over. He wanted them to never forget the astounding victories that He brought about for them. Alone, they would not have been able defeat the enemies. The land He promised them He was faithful to give them.

When we write down the wins we can always look back and remember. Maybe this is exactly why Joshua and the Hebrews grabbed their rocks and set up the monument. Today is a day of monument building. Digging deep to recall the victories is a great place to start.  Beginning a list and adding to it will set ourselves a remembrance just like those stones they carried out of the dry riverbed. Let us to determine to begin to record (big and small) the ways we see God working in our lives.

When we walk in the light of the Lord,  keeping His faithfulness before us, it is easier to step over the struggles that may come in our path.  Knowing and seeing where God has been faithful helps us hold fast to the fact that He will continue to be faithful in our future.  Faithful is who He is.  I must remember, not only to continue adding to my rocks but also to keep revisiting them often.