“I’m not telling you this because I’m in need,
for I have learned to be satisfied in any circumstance.”
~ Philippians 4:11 (The Praise Translation)
In the wait of these days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I feel things more keenly – the emptiness of those not here to share the celebrations, the festivities, all the goodness the season holds. I feel my age more during the season. Staying up until 2 a.m. with a 6 a.m. wake-up call isn’t as easy as it was when my kiddos were little. My legs and feet ache more from the time standing to cook, decorate, prepare for all I want the season filled with – I do realize I have choices to do less or do more. . ., and I feel how important it is to not give way until I have to give way to slowing down.
Life isn’t perfect – and it won’t be in an imperfect world. Even at Christmas time. . . yet, if it wasn’t for Christmas, where would we all be? What would the challenges feel like, live like without the joy our Savior brought, the Hope He brought alive with Him, His special brand of love, the redemption, the salvation, the adoption into His family? Who would heal the soul deep wounds? Who brings new blessings in each day?
” I know what it means to lack,
and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance.
For I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things,
whether in fullness or in hunger.”
~ Philippians 4: 12 (The Praise Translation)
There are all kinds of lack – a lack of health and strength in a short or prolonged illness, food lack, sleep lack. I know what it’s like to lack propane in an ice storm. I’ve lived in the midst of a dream not yet fulfilled. We all lack those people we love so much around our tables at Christmastime – whether death took them, a job moved them far away, or, maybe, they just up and walked away in a heart-breaking decision. Some might even have a faith-in-God-lack, a I-don’t-understand-this-baby-in-a-manger-cause-of-Christmas lack.
I think between us, we would come up with a long list of the lacks in our lives, yet, what about the experiences of overwhelming abundance? Do you remember those? I remember the first year of married life – no hot water for three months, no phone, no t.v., a $25 a week grocery budget, one car between us, yet so much love – it covered a wealth of lack.
Then came the overwhelming abundance of these boys God gave us – along with the abundance of bursting joy, laughter, and even the tears. God sent geese on a grey day in the midst of a financial challenge. He restored life to a desperately-trying-to-die transplanted hydrangea. He opened my eyes to find the lost things when I asked.
“And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power
infuses me to conquer every difficulty.”
~ Philippians 4:13 ((The Praise Translation))
In the lack, in the overwhelming abundance, He reminds me to follow Him, to keep my eyes on Him, to not stray from His side – to remember and tell about what He has done, even when the right-now-challenge is uncomfortable. Sometimes He reminds me as much as 100 times a day. Yet, in the reminding, His “explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty.” The joy, the hope, the courage, the all He brought to give us on the day our Savior was born in a manager – it changes a life challenged into a life redeemed; it takes our eyes off the brokenness and focuses our eyes on our Savior, and in the focusing on Him there is much beauty and joy to be found in a life redeemed.
I’ve been turning Philippians 4:11-13 over in my mind the last few weeks. This weekend, I hosted a wedding shower with a group of lovely women for a dear friend’s daughter. It was a kitchen shower. Everyone brought recipes and a blessing. I pray that when the challenges come, she chooses to bake goodness to serve in her home. I pray that as she bakes her voice rises in praise and remembrance of all the blessings God has brought to her, blessings that would have been impossible without the baby born in a manger all those years ago, and that as her praises rise, so does her joy, her hope, her faith, and that in her faith, she sees the challenges God walks through with her as seasoning to the soul.
When we moved to Cookeville, Tennessee thirty-one years ago, there were five restaurants: Bobby Q’s, Cracker Barrel, Shoney’s, Diana’s Tea Room, and The Scare Crow Inn. The Blessing Cake below was shared with more about 25 years ago by Wanda Fitzpatrick, the owner of Scarecrow Country Inn Restaurant. It is not included in her cookbook. Our community lost a prized gem when the big restaurants came in and the homegrown entrepreneurs struggled. Anyone who has ever eaten there remembers the bread set on the table when you sat down with their Hickory Bark Butter. Wanda gave it to me before they closed their doors. It’s a recipe that’s been served through the challenges and the celebrations – as muffins, as loaf bread, and as a cake. To say it is a Blessing Cake is not an understatement! Today, Cookeville’s culinary entrepreneurial spirit thrives in its local, home-grown restaurants. I sure wish The Scarecrow Inn could have held on long enough for the newness of big business restaurants to wear off. I think it would be the premier restaurant in our area today.
Ingredients for The Blessing Cake:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup pina colada mix
2 cups crushed pineapple, slightly drained
1 cup oil
1)Place all ingredients into a comfortably large mixing bowl.
2) Do a rough mix by hand until all ingredients are incorporated. You may still have some flour on the sides, and that’s o.k. That’s why it’s a rough mix.
3) Pour into two 8×2-inch pans, greased and lined with parchment paper, filling each pan until over half full. You could also make 24 muffins or 4 loaf-pan cakes.
4) Bake at 350 ◦ F until done (check at 30 minutes for cake and 18-20 minutes for muffin pans).
5) After the cake has cooled, put in the freezer for at least an hour, until firm. It will be much easier to icing.
Praline Icing Directions:
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons praline liqueur (use more if the icing is still too thick to smoothly spread)
For muffins and even loaf cake, simply serve with softened butter.
Dried Sugared Oranges for Cake Decoration
Slice an orange. A blood orange provides more color in the meat of the orange, but I was unable to find those. Instead, I used a regular orange. Line cooking sheet with parchment paper, setting a metal baking/cooling rack on top. After slicing the oranges, I dipped to coat in pure cane granulated sugar. After coating, score the orange slice and make one twist before placing on the rack. You might need a toothpick to help keep in place. Dehydrate in oven at 220 degrees overnight (I put mine in at 10 p.m. and took out at 7:30 a.m.).
Remember Me Monday: #85 & Link-up
“I’ll make a list of God’s gracious dealings,
all the things God has done that need praising,
All the generous bounties of God,
his great goodness to the family of Israel—
. love extravagant.”
~ Isaiah 63:7, The Message
In the Old Testament, God repeatedly, quietly and loudly, tells his children, “You have forgotten me!” (Jeremiah 3:32, Ezekiel 22:12, to name a few). It’s a heart cry from a father to a child who has forgotten all the love, all the saving, helping, little and big blessings – and it leaves me stunned when I realize our Father, the creator of the universe, who knows things I cannot begin to fathom, who authors storylines that leave me amazed, delights in all of us so much, He cries out, “Remember Me.”
While every day is a Remember God Day, I am inviting you to join me on Monday mornings to come by and remember what God has done for you, for your family. Maybe God sent a cardinal darting out in front of you, as if to tell you, “I’m here,” or broke a child’s fever after you laid it all down at His feet in a 2 a.m. bedside vigil. Maybe He stood with you in the wait of a prayer sent out, or brought someone you loved to Christ. Maybe He healed your broken heart, gave your courage, or you gave Him your dreams as a love offering only to have Him give them back in an unimaginable way. Maybe God helped you survive to bedtime after a crazy Monday, or forgive yourself for missing it with your kiddos –– Whatever it is, let’s Remember Him. . . in a “Remember Me Monday” love letter.
“My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
Of your salvation all the day long,
Though I know not its measure.
I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord”
~ Psalm 71:15-16.
Let us delight in Him by telling the stories of what He’s done! If you wrote a blog post remembering what He’s done for you, join the linky. If you didn’t but still want to praise Him for what He’s done – write it in the comment section. Then visit a comment before or after yours! One of the beautiful things about the blogging community is the relationships it builds!
Rules? Write long or short, a list or a story, include photos or not. Just Remember Him and what He has done, and let the gratitude of your heart guide you. Let’s make Monday so Rejoice, that the goodness of God spills into the rest of the week!
Places I’m Linking at This Week:
Inspire Me Monday, Instaencouragements,
Legacy Link-Up, Recharge Wednesday
Faith on Fire, Tell His Story, Grace&Truth
Let’s Have Coffee Wednesday Celebrate Your Story
Scripture&Snapshot, Sunday Scripture Blessin