Reflections of Summertime

Reflections of Summertime

I love to feel sunshine on my face and living in Colorado I get to experience that a lot as we like to boast that we have 300 days of sunshine a year.  Blue skies create a sunny disposition so they say.  As our summer days feel longer and the sun shines until late in the night, I settle into my summer rhythm of walks after work, watering the garden, watching baseball and talks with my husband sitting on the back porch staring at the magnificent sunsets chatting about life and many nights eating a popsicle.  There is something about summertime that brings out my ten year old self. The rhythm of life seems to change with the arrival of fresh cut grass and ice cold lemonade.

A few summer ago, I participated in a Bible study that focused on the Psalms.  Right away Psalm 1: 3 caught my attention –

“ That person is like a tree, planted by streams of water, which yields it fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.” NIV

That particular summer arrived after an intense time of ministry and quite frankly a time where I felt unlike the tree above, my leaves were withered. I was worn out, my joy was gone. This passage caught my attention because it promises that this tree gives its fruit in season, while its leaves do not wither. My expectations of myself, and the expectations I often see those around me putting on themselves, are that we are to be productive and fruitful all the time. Our rhythm to include rest has disappeared.

No wonder we feel tired.

We were created for rhythms. All of God’s created world was created with rhythms. God created night and day. God created and then God rested. The leaves fall in autumn and return with buds of promise in the spring – rhythm.

Modern life gives few reminders, but we humans used to go to sleep and get up with the sun. Life followed the rhythms of the agricultural seasons. There was a time to plant and a time to harvest. With the arrival of the summer fruits in the produce aisle and farmers market, I am reminded that fruit grows in seasons, not constantly or instantaneously.

Life today can be a constant barrage of noise and information that is accessible at our fingertips. We can be plugged in all the time, and we are expected to be fruitful year-round. The arrival of summer reminds me we can change that rhythm.

My challenge to myself and to you is to find our rhythm of summer. Find ways to slow down. Extra time with our families, extra time outside and maybe a little extra ice cream too.  Rhythm is a simple concept, let’s find ours and let’s not over complicate it… 

Happy Summer!!

Summertime Lemonade

Summertime Lemonade

This easy old fashioned recipe is my favorite.

1 3/4 c. white sugar

8 c. water

1 1/2 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice

  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  2. Remove seeds from lemon juice, but leave pulp. In pitcher, stir together chilled syrup, lemon juice and remaining 7 cups water.

Serve over ice and enjoy your summertime!

Blueberry Crumble

Blueberry Crumble

Blueberry Crumble

For the Crust

2 Sticks of unsalted butter

1/2 c. sugar

2 1/2 c. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

For the Filling

2 blocks of cream cheese ( room temperature )

1/2 c. sugar

1 large egg ( room temperature)

1/ 2 c. sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla

1 Tbsp. lemon zest

juice of one lemon

3 c. fresh blueberries

For the Topping

1 stick of melted unsalted butter

1/3 c. sugar

1 c. all purpose flour

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray cooking spray on bottom and sides of a 9×13 pan

Mix with hand mixer the ingredients for the crust and spread on the bottom of pan.  Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool

While the crust is cooling, mix ingredients together for the filling, minus blueberries.  Mix until creamy then fold in the fresh berries. Layer the filling over the cooled crust.

Mix together the ingredients for the topping and layer evenly over the filling.

Place the crumble in the oven for approximately 40 minutes.  Until the topping is golden and the center is set.  Let the crumble cool at room temperature and then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Of course this tastes great solo or with a side serving of vanilla bean ice-cream.  A perfect Easter treat.  Enjoy!

Our Favorite Christmas Cookies

Our Favorite Christmas Cookies

I have tried to make other cookies at Christmas time, but my family won’t cooperate.  🙂   This is our recipe given to me over 20 years ago by my friend Angela.  Have fun making them with your family. Obviously, this recipe is not low calorie but it does make delicious cookies and they are my families favorite every year.  Hope they become yours too!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Cookie Dough –

4 cubes of real butter  ( yep – you read that right )

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk ( reserve the white for the frosting )

1 C. sugar

1 Tablespoon of almond extract

4 C. Flour

Mix all ingredients well and let the dough chill.  Roll out on a well floured surface to desired thickness. Cut out dough using your favorite cookie cutters.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 – 10 minutes until light brown around the edges

Frosting –

3/4 c. Crisco

1 lb of powdered sugar

1 egg white

2 Tablespoons of water

2 teaspoons of vanilla

1 teaspoon of almond extract

Mix well and add desired food coloring

 

Laughter is Good For the Soul

Laughter is Good For the Soul

I sat in the parking lot of the post office on a cold winter morning.  I could see the long line from where I sat in my car and I was feeling grumpy about the anticipated wait.  I had a heavy heart.    Grey skies loomed overhead replacing the normal bright blue skies of Colorado.  The whole day felt grey and heavy.

I was awakened that morning to alarming texts from friends who were sending out prayer requests for one of our friends who is battling cancer.  The outlook felt grim.  Then I received an email from another friend telling me of a friend’s child who was complaining of a stomach ache which turned into surgery which turned into another cancer diagnosis.  These are wonderful families and I just felt plain sad on their behalf.

I walked to the front door of the post office and while opening the door dropped several of my envelopes.  A young man stepped over the fallen mail without offering to help.  My grumpy meter was rising by the second  – that was until I got inline.  

In front of me was an elderly man and in front of him was a young mom with her little baby.  The elderly gentleman began playing peek a boo with the child and before you know it, the baby was laughing hysterically.  You know what I mean, those baby laughs that are so full of joy they make everyone around them begin to smile and laugh too. We all were laughing until our sides hurt.  We even clapped for the baby when she and her mom were leaving, and of course, on cue, she blows us all baby kisses goodbye.  My spirits were lifted by the laughter of this sweet child and the response from all those around me.

The lady behind me started crying.  She apologized for the tears and told me her husband had passed away earlier this year and she felt guilty for feeling joy and uncontrollable laughter.  I gave her a hug and told her I was so sorry for her loss.  I also probably over spoke and told her I thought it was ok to have joy.  Her husband wouldn’t want her to be sad forever.  She hugged me again.  I left the post office feeling lighter and as I walked outside, the sun began shining through the clouds. I stopped and prayed for my friends who were deep in hardship.  I prayed they would feel joy, that they would be able to laugh even when things were hard.

I think sometimes we are afraid to laugh while we are experiencing sorrow because someone might think our pain has passed or that our sorrow isn’t deep.  Laughter seems off limits or inappropriate to shine where there is the darkness of grief and sorrow.  My Christian faith tells me that because I place my hope in Christ, I can grieve differently from those who have no hope.  There are times when grief will have a tight grip on us for sure, life can be brutally hard at times.  Laughter gives us permission to say  – grief may have a hold of me but all of the life has not been choked out of me. I think laughter lessens the sting that sadness can bring. It is a gift to feel joy.

Let’s all be people who give each other permission to laugh, to experience joy even when our world circumstances say otherwise.  Let’s receive our joy from the Lord and encourage one another in this journey called life.

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