Category Archives: Those Wonderful Special Occasions

Reflections, stories, and ideas for holidays

There’s Nothing Quite Like the Full English

When Alan and I were on the Norwegian Star‘s Central American cruise through the Panama Canal earlier this year, we had many delightful breakfasts, but one of the best was our perennial favorite abroad, “The Full English,” so I’ve decided to write about it today. However, I’m not really going to publish any particular recipes, as I usually do, because all the foods are standard, it’s just that the combination of “the perfect seven” ingredients makes for a memorable breakfast that can keep you fueled for a seven-hour hike across the moors of England…or a big day of exploring Asia, Central America, or anywhere else in the world!  Our first experience with “The Full English” was at a hostel under the shadow of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London many years ago. We affectionately dubbed this hostel “Mel’s East,” because it reminded us of the rescue mission where we often volunteered in Grand Rapids. Despite the humble and somewhat unkempt condition their dormitory-style facility (and people up all night chattering in foreign languages as they called their families in other parts of the universe), Mel’s East served us an incredibly hearty and surprisingly tasty breakfast, and from that day to this,  we have a soft spot in our hearts for “The Full English.”  Since then, we’ve enjoyed it at such classic venues as The Royal Highland Hotel in Inverness, Scotland (where the “Full Scottish” included haggis), the Cappabhaile House in Ballyvaughan, Ireland (in Ireland it’s called “The Full Irish” and may include soda bread), and historic places like the Talbot Inn and Buckingham Hotel in England (where “black pudding” [aka/ “blood pudding”] are popular additions). But, the “Full” breakfast is not just a favorite in the U.K. We’ve eaten the Full English around the world, even in remote areas of Africa and India! So, no matter who you are or where you live, the “Full English” will be a memorable feast for you and yours!

The Full English
(serves one or the world!)

The perfect seven ingredients include:
1. Fried eggs (can also be poached)
2. Fried bacon (English bacon is more like American ham)
3. Grilled tomatoes
4. Grilled mushrooms
5. Baked beans
6. Grilled sausages
7. Toast. We’ve had amazing toast grilled in butter and served hot, but normallyit has been toasted, buttered, and preferable cooled in a toast cooler (such as the one above) and served with an assortment of toppings, such as orange marmalade, marmite (for those who can stand it; I can’t), and fruit preserves. (Leave the nutella for the Italians, the cheeses for the French, and the meats for the Germans. We are not on the Continent now…)At the most wonderful B’n’B’s and fancy hotels, all this follows a first course of cold cereals, pastries, stewed fruits and juices. If you’re going to be truly English, this feast is served with a steaming pot of black tea with lots of milk (not cream) and sugar. Many places make accommodations for coffee lovers, however, and I’ve even been offered some great hot chocolates at times. There are also many delicious possibilities for extras, like friend potatoes, Tattie scones, or classic scones, but these are not part of the gold standard. Also, just FYI, this is not what the Brits eat every day for breakfast. This is what they eat for special occasions or serve to special guests, and it’s sometimes served late morning instead, like a brunch.            Ready to try? I guarantee, it’s even better than green eggs and ham!  🙂

My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.” (Proverbs 24:13-14)

Have You Found Messiah in the Passover?

      Yesterday Christians around the world celebrated Easter, and so did we!  The most common Christian traditions are attending church as a family, a special festive dinner together, and an Easter egg hunt, where everyone searches for brightly-colored Easter eggs (usually hard-boiled chicken eggs). . .       as well as various types of candy, in particular, chocolate Easter bunnies!  We enjoyed all these activities, and it was a wonderful time of worship and celebration. However, what many Christians (and Jews) don’t realize is that the day Jesus was crucified—which we call Good Friday—is also the Feast of Passover for Jews. And, Easter Sunday—when we celebrate the resurrection of Christ— is also the Feast of First Fruits.   Did you know that? If you’re like me, you may not have known this, or at least fully appreciated the significance of these facts. Jesus was the Passover Lamb. God provided his own son as the sacrificial lamb, like the ram God provided for Abraham nearly 4,000 years ago to substitute for his son Isaac. The Passover lamb, sacrificed by the Israelites 3,500 years ago on the night before they fled Egypt, looked forward to the time when the Lamb of God would be sacrificed, once for all, to bring each of us from spiritual bondage and death into freedom and spiritual, eternal life. That is the day when Jesus died on the cross.  Messiah in the Passover, edited by Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser, is a landmark reference book for the Church to connect us to our spiritual roots, deepen our love for God, the Jewish people and our Messiah, and to teach us how to “experience the joy of celebrating Messiah in the Passover in our own homes and churches.”

Nearly eighteen scholars contribute chapters explaining the fulfillment of Old Testament patterns in the life of Christ, shedding brilliant light on the symbolism surrounding the life and death of Jesus as the Messiah and giving even more depth to our understanding of communion, which was first established at the time of our Lord’s last supper (which was also the Passover Seder that Jews still celebrate today).

As one outstanding example of what the book teaches: One of the central aspects of the Jewish Seder involves taking three sheets of matzah (unleavened bread) and inserting them in three compartments of a special bag, known as the matzah tash. At one point in the evening ritual, the father (or leader) takes the middle sheet of matzah and breaks it in two. He replaces half but wraps the other half in a white napkin and hides it somewhere in the house. (As a game, the children are supposed to look for it.)   This hidden half is known as the afikoman, which is found and distributed in small pieces to everyone as “dessert” after the meal, but it’s literal derivation is from the Greek and means “the one who has come,” a clear reference to the Messiah. Matzah is a flat bread, made without any leaven (which is symbolic of sin in the Bible). It is also striped and pierced. For Christians, the symbolism cries out so loudly it gives me goosebumps! The three matzahs are perfectly symbolic of the triune nature of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The middle sheet is broken and half of it is hidden. Jesus was crucified and buried. After three days (at the end of the meal), he “comes again” (is  resurrected) and distributed to all. Jesus was like the matzah. He was sinless (without leaven). He was striped (lashed) and pierced (by the nails and sword). He was hidden for three days but then rose again.  His life has been distributed to all who will accept it. As Jesus said at the Last Supper, “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you (Luke 18:19-20). What a clear message: Jesus was the Messiah, offering himself as the Passover Lamb, crucified on the Passover, and raised again on the Feast of First Fruits. If you are Jewish or have Jewish friends, this makes the Gospel so accessible. May we all find Messiah in the Passover!   Beyond many very scholarly articles explaining the Old and New Testament teaching about the Messiah, there are a couple of chapters dedicated to sharing everything you need to know about how to conduct your own Passover Seder. There are complete recipes for all the most common dishes (I published one for Matzah Ball Soup two days ago), and they give permission to anyone who would like to run off copies of the order of service for their personal use. There are additional resources available at their website:

https://www.messiahinthepassover.com/

Think about it! I hope you get the book and learn more about finding Jesus, the Messiah, in the Passover. Next year, I’m hoping either to participate in a Seder or hold my own! As Gentile believers, I think we’re missing out on a great blessing if we fail to enjoy this marvelous feast that God gave (all of) his children thousands of years ago. Let’s connect with our spiritual roots and begin enjoying the privileges of His communions!

Speaking of the Messiah (and fulfilled in Christ), the Bible records: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

(Last photo shared by my spiritual sister, Elizabeth, from her family Seder. It’s not exactly like the one you can download from  https://www.messiahinthepassover.com/  but serves as a lovely example! Thank you, Elizabeth! Our German daughter, Gerlinde, taught us one of the German Lutheran traditions of sharing a lamb cake to teach that Jesus is the Lamb of God. Next year, Gerlinde and I are hoping to organize a Good Friday Seder for our family as well! Thank you, Gerlinde!)

For Your Passover Seder: Bubbe’s Matzah Ball Soup

Last night was the Jewish Passover, and most Jews who are looking forward to the coming of the Messiah celebrated with a Seder (special feast), including a number of my Messianic Jewish friends who believe that Jesus is the Messiah who came once but will also be coming again. I’m not sure why the Christian church does not continue with this blessed commemoration of the night the LORD “passed over” all the homes where believing Israelites had placed blood on the door posts, but as the body of Christ who have been grafted into the family of Abraham by faith, it seems like we are missing out if we don’t participate!

In that light, I’ve gotten permission from Mitch Forman to publish his family’s recipe for Matzah Ball Soup. I will write it out exactly as it is written in the excellent book, Messiah in the Passover, which I’ll be reviewing in full next Monday:

Matzah Ball Soup
(by Mitch Forman)

This soup, favored by the Ashkenazic Jews, is made from a mixture of matzah meal and chicken fat and is the traditional soup served on Passover. We all know that it was out grandmother who made the best matzah ball soup, so no two recipes are the same, except that the standard soup includes chicken soup and matzah balls. In some Jewish homes, soft noodles will be added to the soup, along with carrots and sometimes celery, etc.

Ingredients:
For the matzah balls:
4 eggs
2 tablespoons chicken fat (substitute oil if you dan’t find fat)
2 tablespoons soup stock or water
1 cup matzah meal (buy it at the store)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions:
1.  Beat eggs slightly with fork in a bowl.
2.  Add chicken fat, salt, and water.
3. Add matzah meal gradually until it thickens
4. Refrigerate for 20 minutes in a covered bowl. This will allow the matzah to absorb the liquid and make it easier to use.
5.  Scoop out portions of the matzah ball mixture with a standard ice cream scoop; and with wet hands, form into balls.
6.  Fill a medium-sized stockpot halfway with water and bring to simmer on medium heat.
7.  Cook for 30 minutes.
8. Drain and set aside.

Yield: 16 matzah balls

Ingredients:
For the chicken soup:
1 chicken (5 pounds), quartered
2 medium size onions, diced
6 carrots, diced
water
2 tablespoons salt

Instructions:
1.  Peel onions and carrots and wash celery and cut all vegetables into 1/2-inch cubes.
2.  Place chicken and vegetables in large stockpot.
3.  Add salt and water to cover.
4.  Bring to boil and then lower the flame and simmer for 2 hours.
5.  Remove chicken parts and let cool. Remove the chicken meat from the bones and shred.
6.  Strain the soup of all the vegetables pieces and bring stock back to a simmer
7.  Add the shredded chicken to soup and keep on a low simmer.
8. About 30 minutes before serving, add the matzah balls to the soup and simmer
9.  Dish out soup with 1 matzah ball per serving.

This and all you need to know about how to prepare and hold a Seder are found in Messiah in the Passover, edited by Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser, and can be found here:

http://www.kregel.com/theology-and-religious-studies/messiah-in-the-passover/

For those of you who don’t know about the Jewish Passover or have never read what God did for the Israelites to free them from bondage in Egypt 3,500 years ago, here is the account, from Genesis 12:

12 And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt saying,

This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.

Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:

And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.

Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:

And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.

And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.

10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.

11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord‘s passover.

12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.

13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

15 Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.

16 And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.

17 And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.

18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.

19 Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.

20 Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.

21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.

22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.

23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.

25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service.

26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?

27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord‘s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.

28 And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.

29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.

30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

31 And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said.

32 Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also.

33 And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men.

34 And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.

35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment:

36 And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.

37 And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.

38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.

39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.

40 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.

41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.

42 It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.

43 And the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof:

44 But every man’s servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof.

45 A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof.

46 In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.

47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.

48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.

49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.

50 Thus did all the children of Israel; as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.

51 And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the Lord did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.

(Thanks to my spiritual sister, Lizzie, for the photo of her beautiful tables set for their Passover Seder.)

Good Friday: Practicing the Resurrection Principle

Are you anxious about some challenge in your life? Good Friday is the perfect time to remember the Resurrection Principle, which a friend shared with me from Reader’s Digest. By the way, do you ever read Reader’s Digest? My parents subscribed when I was a child, but I didn’t even know it was still in existence until I looked it up today on Wikipedia and read that it’s the largest paid circulation magazine in the world. So, maybe you’ve read all about the Resurrection Principle already, but if not, let me pass along what my friend suggested: “Prayerfully wait three days before becoming anxious about any problem, because most of the time, the problem will be resolved.”

At first I thought, “What? Usually only the most insignificant issues are resolved in three days unless it’s good news about a test or something.” As I considered the challenges in my life that tend to make me anxious, I felt like almost all of them are long-term, on-going difficulties which are out of my control and often take years to resolve. However, it occurred to me that Christ rose again after three days, and that’s the most significant resolution of any problem in the world!

So, like leprous Naaman in 2 Kings 5, I decided to try the Resurrection Principle and see what happened. I found that prayerfully waiting three days rarely brought a clear resolution that chased the clouds away and left me with no further need for faith or dependence on the Lord. However, as I practiced praying earnestly for three days before freaking out, I discovered that most problems were resolved in this way: I learned to lay them down at the feet of Jesus and find peace. It is completely worthwhile to follow 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Does God love us? Yes. Does God have the power to help us? Yes. Will God answer our prayers in a way that makes us more like Christ and brings glory to Himself? Yes. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).If you’re struggling with anxiety this Good Friday, why not start practicing the Resurrection Principle? Develop the habit of praying earnestly for three days before you allow yourself to give in to anxious thoughts. Hopefully, this will keep you from jumping on the anxiety roller coaster at all, and perhaps you, like me, will more often be able to find a sense of serenity and rest even in the midst of life’s battles, knowing that God loves us, hears us, and will answer our prayers! Let’s allow the resurrection power and ministry of Christ to flood our souls with light in the darkness, transforming us from anxious souls into spiritual beings.

The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him” (Lamentations 3:25).

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

(Thanks to Bob Hardee for the two photos with scripture verses imprinted on them!)



Lenten Specials

Do you observe Lent by giving up something you normally love? This year, I gave up coffee, and my son Joel has given up meat. Actually, Joel and I both find the challenge and discipline good for us, because every time we miss these staples of our lives, it reminds us of all that Jesus gave up throughout his life! And, it makes us appreciate the amazing bounty that we usually enjoy.

Joel’s fast from meat for these few weeks before Lent also reminded me of when we were in India last fall. There were several occasions when beef was listed on the menu, but when I’d order it, the waiter would always come back and politely say that they had no beef that day. Our guide eventually explained that it was illegal to serve beef in India because cows are sacred, and so I soon resigned myself to enjoying chicken and pork for the duration…and a few unusual meats, like water buffalo (which tastes like very tough beef).

Therefore, it was with special joy that my eyes lit on a distant McDonald’s while we were at the airport in New Delhi waiting for our flight to Nepal. We scurried right up the stairs and to the far end of the waiting area, anticipating a Big Mac. Alas, even at McDonald’s there were no burgers to be had. They only served various sandwiches made from chicken or fish. We had to laugh…mostly at ourselves!

Why is it so hard to give up certain privileges and freedoms…even for a few weeks? It made me feel ashamed of myself for thinking I might “get away with” a juicy steak or burger while visiting a country where cows are considered holy. I don’t believe cows are sacred, but they do. Shouldn’t I be more than willing to curb my own appetites and pleasures for their sake? I think so!

 “But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend” (1 Corinthians 8:8-13, emphasis mine).

The Scripture teaches us this about Jesus Christ: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).

In The Cave

As we prepare our hearts for Easter, I’d like to share this meditation written by a dear friend from my writers’ group who is a retired English teacher…wise, deep, and sweet!

It is the season of Lent, before Resurrection Sunday, and our church is encouraging us to be more contemplative in our personal worship, to be quiet, to listen to the voice of the Lord as we clear our minds and pray and wait. We have practiced being quiet in the worship service, in small meetings, in vesper services. It is a lovely and beautiful time. It is also totally awkward for someone determined to learn through study, to work out the faith in good deeds, to be busy just about all of the time.

In the middle of Lent we take a trip to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky with two of our grandsons. We have been there before and also to various caves around the country, so small wet stairs going down down down, slippery handrails, and the “Now I am going to turn off the lights” from the Ranger are not brand new events. However, they are the events I most dread even though I am thrilled to be there with our grandsons.

After a long hike down into a truly mammoth cave, “you can do it you can do it” keeping time with my footsteps, our group reaches a large inner space with high ceiling and park-supplied benches. The Ranger tells us all to “take a seat.”

He talks about where we are, how the large space has been formed, and answers several questions from the group. Then he says, “I am going to turn out the lights.” I schooch over closer to my husband. “But first, I want all of you to close your eyes. Keep your eyes closed until I tell you to open them.”  Yikes, I find my husband’s hand, move even closer to him. And I also close my eyes. Best not to remember we are 250 feet underground in a damp cave, “Now I am going to turn out the lights. Keep your eyes closed.” Click, he turns them out. Best not remember we are 250 feet underground in a damp cave with our eyes closed and the lights turned off.

“When I tell you to, open your eyes.”  Momentarily, he tells us to open our eyes. I do, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference, the darkness, the blackness, is all the same. I can’t see anything. Then the Ranger says, “I am going to turn on my light; it is the equivalent of one candle.” He clicks something and a light goes on. He is standing in the same place as before, he is holding a small light, and I can see the whole cave — ceiling, walls, jagged floors, bench seats, my husband, our grandsons, everyone else.

The Ranger makes some jokes about the overhead lights. Then he tells us that we can see well enough to get all the way out of the cave by this one small candle light if needed.  However, he does turn on the regular lights and we breathe easier.

And deep in the cave I think, “Wow, this is just like the practices for Lent. ‘Close your eyes,’ the Ranger says. ‘Be still,’ the Lord says. The choice is mine.”

The Ranger says, “I am going to turn out the lights. Keep your eyes closed.” The lights go out which is not by my action, but I keep my eyes closed which is my choice. I choose to let my eyes adjust, I choose to clear other images out of my mind and heart. These are my choices.

The Ranger says, “Open your eyes.” I obey. It is deeply dark, fearsome. When I am quiet, focused, it can be deeply dark, fearsome. Light-action-busy is much more comfortable. “Now I will light one candlepower of light,” he says, his action not mine. The acuity of my vision astounds me. How can I possibly see this much? I see because I obeyed the Ranger and prepared my eyes.

So it is in the time of Lent. I can be still and quiet, close my eyes to the confusion of life. I can accept the darkness and allow the eyes of my heart to adjust. And now, with my eyes prepared, what more do I see?

Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God” (Isaiah 50:10, ESV).

(Written by Helen Bell. Thank you so much, Helen!)

Prime Rib

Ever since our honeymoon, where I had my first taste of prime rib,
it’s had a special place in my culinary heart.  Prime Rib one of those rare treats reserved for the very best of occasions
and the very finest restaurants.   (How’s this for “fancy” prime rib…at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.)   Every cruise we’ve ever been on serves prime rib at least once, and last week, while celebrating our 45th anniversary, we were back at our all-time favorite  honeymoon spot…eating prime rib again!

It wasn’t until about a year ago it occurred to me that I might be able to afford serving it for something most unusual, like New Year’s Eve, but it turned out so yummy that I think I’ve inadvertently started a new tradition! Although many places advertise “slow roasted,” after experimenting, I think flash roasting first in a super hot oven, then letting it slow roast, and finishing it on the grill works the best!

Truly Prime Rib
(serves 6-8)

Preheat oven to 500°F. while rubbing a
3 pound prime rib with
3 tablespoons Italian dressing
3 tablespoons fresh, crushed garlic
1 teaspoon course-ground pepper
1 teaspoon course-ground salt
1 teaspoon Montreal Steak Seasoning (or your favorite)

Place in a covered roasting pan fat side up and roast in the oven at 500°F. for 20 minutes.
Turn the heat down to 325° and roast another half an hour.
Turn off the oven but let it continue roasting in the oven until you’re ready to serve it. It needs to rest at least 10 minutes before slicing to retain the juices. If you serve it immediately, it should be pink inside. If you want it rare, only roast it for 10 minutes at 500°F. and turn the oven off, letting it continue to roast for up to an hour. Kick up the heat again briefly to 325°F. just before it’s time to serve to make sure it’s hot, then let it rest for 10 minutes with the oven off before slicing.                              This is rare, but for my taste, it’s too rare!  This is our idea of “perfection,” although several of our in-law kids prefer it more done. To make it medium or well…just keep cooking it longer at 325°F. If you’re in a hurry to finish and need several levels of done-ness, you can also finish off a few slices in a frying pan. The more you cook it, however, the tougher it becomes. (Just sayin’) 🙂 If the weather isn’t too miserable, you can also finish off the prime rib on the grill. Super heat it in the oven at 500.°F for 10 minutes. Let it rest in the oven for up to an hour with the heat entirely off. Fire up the grill and give it another 10-15 minutes (depending on how cold it is out; rotate it several times so it doesn’t burn)  just before you’re ready to serve it. However, you still need to let it rest at least 5 minutes for juice retention. This has become our all-time favorite method. Hot. Juicy. Bursting with flavor!

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?” (Matthew 24:45).