“His D Card Got Spidered”

Memorial Day Weekend wasn’t as much fun for one of our sons as he’d expected! His older brother bought him tickets to visit their family in Europe, but when my son got to the ticket counter, they turned him away. Why? Well, as my grandson Paly reported when asked, “‘Cause his D card got spidered.”

Chicago, here we come . . . or not! 😦

Sad, but true (sort of). Belgium has a law that you cannot enter their country unless your passport is good for 3 months after your return date. So, his uncle’s I.D. card (passport) was going to get spidered (expire) in June . . . after the trip, but not long enough after the trip that he could get through Belgian security. Thankfully, a merciful United Airlines supervisor took my son’s plight to heart and allowed him to exchange his ticket for passage at the end of summer, after he’ll have a chance to renew his passport. That was very gracious of them, because the airline was in no way at fault, and his ticket was non-refundable. Thank you, United Airlines!

Just a question, but do you have a valid passport? If you’re going to travel anytime, please make sure your passport will be valid long enough after the trip so that you won’t get stopped at the ticket counter. (For instance, for my upcoming trip, my passport has to be valid for six months after my return date.)

(Okay, so maybe we’re not really dead in this photo,
but i-phones have lots of tricks!)

Just another question, but do you think you have a valid passport for heaven? Most people imagine they’ll go to heaven after they die if their good works outweigh their bad works, and (of course) most of us think since we’ve always tried to be good (at least, most of the time), our good works will (hopefully) outweigh our bad works. However, like my son’s present passport, good works (valid passport that makes passage in this life seem fine) won’t work for heaven. God has a requirement that we need to heed, lest we get turned away at the ticket counter (death)!

The good news is that anybody can get a valid passport simply by asking! Jesus died in our place so that we can have forgiveness for our sins. All we have to do is humble ourselves, admit that we sin, and ask God to forgive us based on Jesus’ s sacrificial death for us. This “transaction” (also known as “salvation” or “rebirth”) with the government of heaven (so to speak), will give us a valid stamp on our passport. We become permanent “citizens of heaven” with no need for a foreign passport. In effect, we are saved by Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit for safe transmission to heaven. If we had a passport, it would read something like this: “All sins are covered by the blood of Christ. This passport is good forever. No expiration date!”

Please don’t think you’re okay because you’re as innocent as a babe. I mean, really? Anybody who has a baby knows they are only angelic while they’re sleeping. Lovable? Absolutely! Sinless? Not by any stretch of the imagination, and I’ve never been accused of being perfect, either. Have you?

So, unless you’re okay with missing out on all the action (be it over Memorial Day, or all the joys of heaven that could be yours), please believe Jesus when he taught that He alone can promise us eternal life. Sign up with God today for your free Passport for Life!

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40). ” I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

In Memorial: Lest We Forget

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.” —G.K. Chesterton

“Heroism doesn’t always happen in a burst of glory. Sometimes small triumphs and large hearts change the course of history.”—Mary Roach

Normandy Beach

 “On Memorial Day, I don’t want to only remember the combatants. There were also those who came out of the trenches as writers and poets, who started preaching peace, men and women who have made this world a kinder place to live.” —Eric Burdon

 “Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.”—James Bryce

“137 years later, Memorial Day remains one of America’s most cherished patriotic observances. The spirit of this day has not changed-it remains a day to honor those who died defending our freedom and democracy.” —Doc Hastings

 “Over all our happy country—over all our Nation spread,
Is a band of noble heroes—is our Army of the Dead.” —Will Carleton

“The brave die never, though they sleep in dust,
their courage nerves a thousand living men.”—Minot J. Savage

“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy
forget in time that men have died to win them.”—Franklin D. Roosevelt

“No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom
unless he be vigilant in its preservation.”—General Douglas MacArthur

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them.” —John F. Kennedy

 “There is nothing wrong with America
that cannot be cured with what is right in America.” —William J. Clinton

“Veterans are a symbol of what makes our nation great, and we must never forget all they have done to ensure our freedom.”—Rodney Frelinghuysen

“May we never forget freedom isn’t free.”—Unknown

“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being.
With freedom comes responsibility.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends
(—Jesus, in the Bible, John 15:13).

What a Friend We Have in Jesus
(—Joseph M. Scriven, 1855, Public Domain)

  1. What a friend we have in Jesus,
    All our sins and griefs to bear!
    What a privilege to carry
    Everything to God in prayer!
    Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
    Oh, what needless pain we bear,
    All because we do not carry
    Everything to God in prayer!
  2. Have we trials and temptations?
    Is there trouble anywhere?
    We should never be discouraged—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Can we find a friend so faithful,
    Who will all our sorrows share?
    Jesus knows our every weakness;
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
  3. Are we weak and heavy-laden,
    Cumbered with a load of care?
    Precious Savior, still our refuge—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
    Take it to the Lord in prayer!
    In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
    Thou wilt find a solace there.
  4. Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
    Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
    May we ever, Lord, be bringing
    All to Thee in earnest prayer.
    Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
    There will be no need for prayer—
    Rapture, praise, and endless worship
    Will be our sweet portion there.

(I took all the photos in May of 2016 during a trip to Normandy, France.)

Shepherd’s Pie for Spring

I know a lot of Christians serve ham for Easter to celebrate being no longer under the constraints of the Jewish dietary laws, and I know lamb is very expensive in America, but if there’s one time of year when I like to splurge, it’s at Passover, which is just before Easter, and is known as “Good Friday” to most of us. Jesus was the Lamb of God, sacrificed on Passover as a “once for all” sacrifice for sins, and I want to celebrate by roasting lamb for my very favorite celebration of the year!

Happily, there is usually some lamb left over, and my favorite way to use up the extra lamb is by making a Shepherd’s Pie. Here’s how:

Savory Shepherd’s Pie
(Makes 8 hearty slices)

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F.


Next, peel and slice four large potatoes and boil them for about 20 minutes in salted water that covers them completely while you’re accomplishing the tasks below. (I’ve drained these potatoes, which are finished cooking and are ready to be mashed.)

In a frying pan, add the following ingredients and saute/simmer until tender:

The leftover drippings and broth from your lamb roast
1 medium, chopped onion
4 large, chopped carrots (there are fewer here because I also used leftover roasted carrots, which I hadn’t added yet)
1 cup chopped celery and celery leaves (I like the heart of the stalks for this)

Next, add all the lamb (at least 1-2 cups) chopped into bite-sized pieces (or shredded).

When everything is cooked until tender and heated through, add:
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon crushed garlic (fresh or dried)
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon thyme

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of flour over the top and stir into the mixture.

At this point, I added some leftover roasted potatoes chopped into bite-sized pieces, but this is optional (although I think it tastes good). For sure you need to add: 2-3 cups of water drained from the boiled potatoes (enough to make a thick gravy). Turn off the heat and keep covered until you’re ready to finish the pie.

After the potatoes are cooked, tender, and drained, most of the liquid, but perhaps not all, will go into the gravy mixture. Then, pour off any remaining fluid, leaving about 1/4 cup potato water in the bottom of the pan with the potatoes. Then add:
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt and whip in a blender until really fluffy and light.

Empty all the meat and veggie mixture into your biggest pie plate (mine is an 11″).

Arrange the mashed potatoes like whipping cream with high peaks on top.

Dot the top of the pie with about 2 more tablespoons of butter cut into chunks and then sprinkle liberally with coarse (or regular) salt.

Bake in the oven at 350°F. for 30-45 minutes, until the tips are turning a golden brown. (The higher up in the oven, the faster it will brown on top.)

Really, shepherd’s pie is a meal in itself, although I served it with warm garlic bread, grilled egg plant, french-style beans and steamed asparagus. You can serve it with anything or nothing, but I hope however you eat it, you’ll enjoy it as much as we do!

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29, ESV).

(Speaking of Jesus:) “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12).

Spring Break

To escape the cold
Spring breakers went south to find
Stiff winds and sand drifts.

I sure hope that isn’t what happened to any of you dear people who’ve been on spring break recently, but that was our experience in March when we went to Florida for a medical meeting. It was “Bikers’ Week” and the highways were jammed with college kids and motorcyclists, but we had the beach to ourselves due to the icy winds and blowing sand.

In Michigan where I live, it actually snowed again last night! 😦 Try as we may, we don’t always get what we hope for! Thankfully, when we were at Daytona Beach in March, we had our winter coats, so we just bundled up and hiked the beach anyway. (That’s Alan in the distance, who can outrun me any day!)

Like the Whos down in Whoville who refused to let the Grinch steal Christmas, may we find joy in our imperfect lives rather than dismay in our unfulfilled expectations! As Robert Louis Stevenson put it: “Make the most of the best and the least of the worst.”

Rejoice evermore.
17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In every thing give thanks.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)


Spinach-Crust, Cheesy Sausage Quiche for a Crowd

How would you like to make a super simple, delicious quiche without a crust ? Or better yet, to make an easy, yummy quiche with a spinach crust? I have a son who can’t be home for New Year’s Day because he is the accompanist at a church where he’s in graduate school. In fact, so many of his fellow graduate students will be “stuck” at the university that he’s decided to host a New Year’s Day brunch lest anybody feel too lonesome or unloved. We were talking about the fact the he’d like to be able to make one big quiche that could feed a dozen people or so, and that inspired me to try to work out a recipe.  I tried my new recipe for a pan-sized quiche on some dear friends when we had a Christmas brunch, and it “passed inspection” as yummy, so I’ll share it.

Cheesy Sausage and Spinach Quiche
(Serves 12±)

Preheat oven to 350°F

Saute in a frying pan until thoroughly cooked:
1 pound ground, spicy sausage (spicy is better than mild for this)
1 medium diced onion
8 oz. fresh diced mushrooms
1 tablespoon garlic
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon seasoning salt (I use Lawry’s but suit yourself)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper   Beat together in a mixer:
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour(I combine the milk and flour in my mother’s antique copper shaker, but use whatever works for you to make sure it’s not lumpy)  Fill 9X12″ baking dish with:
10 oz. fresh spinach (becomes the bottom “crust” if you will)
8 oz. of Swiss cheese sliced or cubed (can use other types of cheese) Add sausage mixture on top and spread evenly Add egg mixture over everything Sprinkle 8 oz. shredded cheese on top  Bake for 30 minutes or until starting to turn golden brown on top Serve hot! (I also made pecan rolls and served fresh blackberries, but the quiche by itself is quite a healthy, filling “meal in one.”) This morning, I didn’t have time to make the pecan rolls, nor were the blackberries on sale, but it’s good “any old way!”      “He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes” (Psalm 147:16).

Truffles: “Buckeyes” (aka Peanut Butter Balls)

Next to fudge (which I wrote about three years ago, and the recipe can be found here: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/yoopers-trolls-and-fudgies-and-a-recipe-for-amazing-fudge/), the most popular Christmas candies around our home are “Buckeyes,” which are basically peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate. If you love peanut butter and chocolate . . . you’ll love these! “Buckeyes” are so named because they look like horse chestnuts (which have been nicknamed “buckeyes”),  but that’s where the similarity ends, because the real buckeyes are poisonous to humans and most animals!    However, our homemade buckeyes are 100% edible and 200% scrumptious!

Homemade Buckeye Candies
(makes 48 candies, which serves about one person . . . just kidding!)

#1. Filling: In a large mixing bowl, combine:
15 oz. jar of peanut butter
1/2 cup (4 oz) softened butter
4 oz cream cheese
6 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix everything until smooth. ( You can use a mixer or mix by hand; I mix by hand because the dough is very heavy and there’s a lot of it, so the powdered sugar tends to fly everywhere, and it takes a big mixer to be able to handle it.)

#2. Refrigerate covered (to keep it from drying out) until well chilled and pretty firm (an hour) or until you’re ready to dip the candies. (Keeping the dough in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight is fine, and the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for days—or even frozen, although that’s not ideal.)

#3. Roll the dough into 1″ balls and place on a cookie sheet. (The cookie sheet doesn’t have to be lined with waxed paper, but it does have to be lined before you dip the chocolates, because the warm chocolates need to be set on waxed paper.)

#4. Chocolate coating: Combine in a microwavable mixing bowl
10 oz. chocolate chips melted in microwave with
2 tablespoons shortening (or coconut oil)
Microwave for 40 seconds. Take it out and stir, then place it in the microwave again for another 20 seconds and stir until it’s completely melted and smooth. Take your time. It’s critical that you don’t microwave the chips any more than you have to, so if you really need more time, only go an extra 5-10 seconds.#5. Once the chocolate and shortening have melted, dip the buckeyes one at a time by inserting a toothpick into the top center of one of the balls. Swirl it in the chocolate, leaving the very top without chocolate. Set the buckeye on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper, and gently pull out the toothpick, using a fork if needed to dislodge it. You can use the same toothpick for each buckeye. If your family can resist eating them on the spot, store them in a cool place until they are completely cold. Once they are cold, they can be stored (carefully) in a container. I place them right next to each other, but I put a sheet of waxed paper between each layer so that they can be stacked into 3 or so layers. Enjoy!!

 

Buckeyes. 01.19.17.jpegAnd she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus:
for he shall save his people from their sins
” (Matthew 1:21).

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

I know it would be ideal to be sharing heart-healthy, low calorie recipes with you for holiday celebrations, but we have some yummy family favorites that are at least an improvement over the standard options without being really non-fat or low cal. Last week’s date bar recipe—with dates and oats—is a big step up from candy, and today’s recipe, pumpkin bars—with pureed pumpkin—is healthier than traditional cakes or brownies. Besides, they taste great and are always a hit at potlucks and parties!

Pumpkin Bars
(makes 24 medium  or 48 small bars)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine:
1 15-oz can pumpkin
4 eggs
1 and 2/3 cups granulated white sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup canola (or other cooking) oil
1/2 cup softened butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

3. Beat until smooth and then pour batter into a well greased, large cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until done. My pan is 17″ by 11″ and the pumpkin batter fits perfectly. A large jelly roll pan also works. If you use a smaller cookie sheet, it won’t all fit without overflowing and burning as it bakes. It can also be baked in a 9″ by 13″ pan, but this makes the bars very thick, and they’d have to be baked longer. (Not to mention, you’d also have super thick frosting with less surface area.) Test it for done-ness just like any cake: It’s done when the top is golden brown, the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, and the top springs back when touched gently (or a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out not wet).

4. When cooled (but it can be still warm) frost with:

Cream Cheese Frosting

Combine in mixer:
5 cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
8 oz. softened creamed cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk or cream

Whip in mixer until fluffy, and then spread. The frosting will be quite soft, so use just 1 tablespoon milk if you want it to be thick. (I like it soft because it spreads easier). After frosting, sprinkle a little more cinnamon on the top.

Serve whenever. Warm with ice cream is amazing, but it doesn’t really need ice cream to be great because it’s so moist on its own. If you have a lot left over, refrigerate after the first day or so to retain freshness and consistency.

Psalm 95

O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.” May we come before God’s presence with thanksgiving this holiday season and find our rest in Him!