I love stories: Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall Stories – and Christmas Stories: Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore, The story of Saint Nicholas of Myra – oh, how I loved that story – a story of being seen and cared for when we feel unseen and hopeless. Then there’s It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas in Connecticut, The Man Who Came to Dinner, White Christmas. So many stories – and then there is The Greatest Story Ever Told. . . starting from when God spoke and the one who would become the Babe in a Manger one winter day called the birds, the beasts and the butterflies into existence, spoke rain into snow and ice, spoke the air we breathe into being and breathed it into Adam’s lungs, and then in a Generosity of Spirit we struggle to understand, He gave Adam the great gift of naming the birds, the beasts and the butterflies. Even then, He’d already planned the very first Christmas when He would come walk with us in order to save us, to redeem us.
I can read all the good stories. I can make Modjeskas, Bourbon Balls, and Chocolate Truffles, Grandmother’s Coffee Cakes and Cranberry & White Chocolate Scones. I can fill cups with Muddy’s Hot Chocolate or Homemade Egg Nog, fill plates with roast beef or muffulettas. I can decorate the trees, mantel and table – and find the perfect gift for everyone who walks through my door. Yet, if I cannot keep my eyes on Him, I can find no joy alongside the heart-aches. Before I can find my joy this season, I have to lock my eyes on to His story, His Hope, His goodness:
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” ~ Philippians 4:8-9, The Message
In order to do this, I have to stop spinning my own stories, worrying out solutions to challenges, creating and recreating scenarios that are just wasted time, wasted effort, waste that destroys my peace. When I stopped story spinning – and filled my mind on goodness and grace, on tender hearted things and benevolence, on the blessings He leaves in the challenge, trusting by living as though prayers are already answered – oh, how my heart lifted, how I felt my spirit smile from inside out. I’ve been working on teaching myself to stop spinning for a few years. Sometimes, I’m much better at stopping the spinning than other times. Today, I am making a concerted choice – to Choose Looking at Him, instead of my circumstances. Because of Jesus, I can, you can! We can celebrate the one who creates the best stories – for the world and for each of us individually.
Stopping My Spin
A mortal man
day and night
in the pause,
headspace caught unawares
weaving webs of fraught
and what if’s
A mortal man
of what could happen
here or there
now or later
a ring lost, a shoe pair unmatched
a heart left alone
at the intersection
of one place
A mortal man
spinning story obsessions
spinning out of fear
tomorrow’s behavior and solutions
minutes, hours, lifetimes
A mortal man
spun from faithless imagination
is really just Satan stealing
and right now’s peace and joy
like God’s plans
of a future and a hope
ever a breath drawn.
the fingers of my mind
drop the spinning story
and cry out
“Creator of the Universe
Spin my story
you wrote when I
lived in the secret place.”
Writer of my story
whose thoughts are constantly
with me, His eyes upon me
my eyes and mind
track the one who plots
to destroy my peace
instead tracking the one
my peace, my joy
My Father, My King
“Stop,” He says.
poor morta- made
are the stories you weave
Turn your soul eyes,
your mind eyes,
your mortal brown, green or blue eyes
“Do you see what I see?”
my Savior asks.
“See and store in the heart
–my Christmas Time love
Hope, Redemption, Salvation
born in a manger
Mighty God, Prince of Peace.”
who knows the why of every tear
the ache of every dream
that sometimes feels still born
says the Redeemer.
Spin your Story
out of Good tidings
says the Author of My Salvation.
“Spin Glory-to God stories
of good will toward men
of peace on earth
of God with You
and Mustard Seed Faith
healing the stories
says the babe in a manger
who called the birds, the beasts,
the butterflies into being
and let Adam name them.
“I can wash away things
not of Me in a Holy Spirit Story
and clear your eyes to see
the glorious work of God
Keep your eyes on
the Great I Am
The Greatest Stories
This week, I am practicing keeping my eyes on our Savior, on His truth and promises, on goodness, on lovely blessings He leaves even in the challenge. In the wrapping, the baking, in the gentle pressing of the cranberry white chocolate scones, I will seek out the good news – and give Praise and Hallelujah’s for what He has done – in creation, in the manger, in the tomb – and the results of that in my life. No more spinning. I’m letting God spin my story! Merry Christmas, friends! May you find so much more joy and love than you expected or hoped for!
“Keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always. Put into practice the example of all that you have heard from me or seen in my life and the God of peace will be with you in all things.” ~ Philippians 4: 8-9, The Passion Translation
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” ~ Philippians 4: 8-9, The New Kings James Version
Muddy’s Cranberry and White Chocolate Scones
This is a recipe that needs some prep the day making. The results are well worth the effort.
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Butter, cut up (5.3 tablespoons)- cold
1 Cup Whipping Cream – cold
1 Generous Cup chopped candied cranberries
1 Cup White Chocolate Chips
2 1/8 inch biscuit cutter
Candied Cranberry Ingredients
- 8 Cups Fresh Cranberries
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar or super fine sugar
White Chocolate Mousse Ingredients:
- 8 oz baking white chocolate bars (2-4 oz bars)
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- 8 oz whipped topping like COOL Whip
Instructions Candied Cranberries (overnight):
- Combine water and 1 1/2 cups of sugar in a sauce pot, over medium heat. Heat the mixture until sugar is all dissolved, while stirring slowly. Take off heat.
- Let the mixture cool a bit before adding cranberries. Add cranberries, stir, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Drain cranberries in a colander.
- Add 1/2 cup of sugar to a shallow bowl and coat cranberries is sugar.
- Set aside 15 until ready to decorate.
- Chop the rest into halves or quarters until you have a cup of chopped candied cranberries to fold into your scones.
Instructions for White Chocolate Mousse:
- Break up white chocolate bars and melt them according to package instructions.
- Beat cream cheese at room temperature (very important) with an electric mixer for a couple of minutes.
- Drizzle in melted white chocolate while continuing to beat cream cheese. Mix well.
- Fold in whipped topping gently until all combined.
- Spread white chocolate mousse over the top of the scones. You can separate the mousse in two batches and use one batch to decorate with a frosting tip.
- Top with one candied cranberry
Make the Candied Cranberries ahead of time.
Then begin building the Cranberry & White Chocolate Scone.
Combine all dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk to blend.
Add cold butter (not room temperature) with a pastry blender until crumbly.
IMPORTANT to READ BEFORE YOU ADD WHIPPING CREAM: While cakes need a good two minute mixing (you definitely need a mixer for a cake) and muffins need a less thorough mixing (for example, hand mixing works and you still want to see a small bit of white flour), Scones demand even less mixing. Imagine a teenager who keeps saying, “Don’t Touch Me” – and you get the idea.
Make a small indention into the dry mix.
Add 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
Using a spatula, turn only until the flower has moistened 1/2 the dry mixture. Then add the chopped cranberries and white chocolate chips. Turn onto a floured counter top or pastry mat. The Old Testament Girl in me is usually terrified at this part – because it looks like such a mess. This is where you start gently hugging the dough, gently pressing from the sides into the shape of a circular cake, 3/4 the height of the biscuit cutter. Don’t worry if some fall apart while cutting. Set aside to gently press for a second round of cutting. They will seem very crumbling, but when baked, the cold butter melts, solidifying its shape. You should be able to compare the first round of scones cut with the last scone that has been pressed and handled more and see a difference in the texture after baking.
- Bake at 425° for 5 minutes to get that golden-on-top look, reduce to 375 and cook for 12 more minutes or until golden brown. (Cook time varies for convection ovens and regular ovens. Check after the 12 minute mark and then take out when the top turns lightly golden.)
While cooling, make the White Chocolate Mousse. After the scones have cooled, top with the White Chocolate Mousse and Candied Cranberries!