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.

Fall Treats – Just in Time for Trick or Treat

Fall Treats – Just in Time for Trick or Treat

Simple recipes are the best.  My Grandma Swenson lived in Minnesota and my family would travel each summer to visit her along with the rest of my Dad’s family who lived simply on farms and in small towns.  I remember the wonderful home cooked meals served by my grandma and aunties.  They also made the best desserts and treats. I have an old church recipe book that my grandma gave me when I graduated from high school.  I love to look through this treasure of small town Minnesota and I always bring it out this time of year when I make snacks for Halloween night.  The caramel corn is so yummy.  It stores well, but we usually never have any left to store.  The Goblin punch was fun to make when my kids were little and was a favorite at the elementary school parties each year.  And of course, who doesn’t love a warm apple crisp on a chilly fall evening.  Enjoy!

 

Old Fashioned Caramel Corn

Ingredients

6  cups popped popcorn

2 cups packed brown sugar

1 cup butter, cubed

1/2 cup Karo light corn syrup

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

Place popcorn in a large bowl and set aside. In a large saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat. Stir in vanilla and baking soda; mix well. Pour over popcorn and stir until well-coated. Pour into two greased 13×9-in. baking pans.

Bake, uncovered, at 250° for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool completely. Store in airtight containers.

Goblin Punch

1 quart chilled orange juice

1 quart orange sherbert

2 quarts chilled ginger ale

Apple Crisp

Ingredients

8 medium apples, peeled and sliced

1 1/2 c. brown sugar

1 c. flour

1 c. oats

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 c. butter

Directions

Grease 9×13 pan. Layer apples in the bottom of the pan.  Mix remaining ingredients well and sprinkle over apples.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes until apples are tender and the topping is golden brown.  

I like to serve this warm over french vanilla ice cream.

The Mountaintop

The Mountaintop

Not all mountaintop experiences happen on mountaintops. Some do – like the one we read about in Matthew 17. “Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led
them up a high mountain”. And there they had a “mountaintop” experience – we know it as the transfiguration. A beautiful moment that Jesus shared with his disciples. You know, the kind of experience that doesn’t happen too often, the kind that changes us forever and results in lasting transformation. Not all mountaintop experiences happen on mountaintops. Some happen in convention centers in the southern state of Kentucky. Some happen each year at MOMcon.

Those of us who attended MOMcon had various mountain top experiences. I am always moved to tears when worshipping with thousands of other women. When leaders are introduced to one another in what I believe are God appointments, showing them their abilities to work together through the MOPS ministry to further God’s kingdom. When I see moms crying and sharing with me their recommitment to the Lord, their deep desire to reach others for Christ.

I experienced many of those moments with many of you and I am thankful. This year, being a part of the baptism service was an incredible moment – a true mountain top experience. I had the honor of working with Pastor Ed Ollie that morning. I stood at the bottom of the steps and held the hand of each of the 42 moms as they entered the water. An ordinary hot tub on the rooftop of a hotel in downtown Louisville was transformed into holy water as each mom proclaimed her commitment to following Jesus in front of her peers and other MOPS family. Tears of joy, I have never been hugged so tightly. During one such baptism, as the mom was coming out of the water, I looked over to see her friends crying and above them was the steeple from the church across the street and it was illuminated by the street light. The cross shone brightly that morning. I felt God’s love and will forever remember that as a holy moment, a mountain top experience.

Back to the real world with laundry and real life issues and some minor complaints. How do we take those experiences at MOMcon and hold them tight so that we remember why we do what we do? It really is about perspective and the transforming love of Jesus Christ.

I am reminded of a hike I did this past summer and reaching the top of the mountain. It struck me how nothing really grows at the top – the trees and foliage are gone and are replaced by large rocks and gravel. The view however of the valley was breathtaking. The air was clean and crisp. It gave me an appreciation of what my everyday life looked like as I viewed it from afar. The beautiful trees and city. That is what I take from my mountain top moments at MOMcon. The view of our daily lives, the moments of clarity. Still doesn’t make re- entry easy but it makes it more special when we take those moments and bring them back with us excited and recommitted to serving faithfully together.

That is my prayer for each of us as we lead moms around the world. Think of the call of God leading you and me. Our mountaintop experiences of experiencing God in an intense way also calls us to return to the very real issues and problems of our MOPS groups, our cites and state, nation and world. And we are called back to proclaim that Jesus has called us to work together – as people of faith – to improve the lives of all moms – bringing healing and hope and abundant life into their realities.

May God lead us off the high mountain and into even the deepest and darkest valleys to
share God’s love in transforming ways.

Much love – Sherri

Contentment

Contentment

God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Why is contentment so hard to achieve?  A great question brought to my mind this morning as I was walking through my garden enjoying the beautiful roses that are still blooming.  It is mid September here in Colorado and each year about this time, I get a second blooming season from my rose garden.  Heavenly.

The temperature for the next week will be in the upper 80’s yet when I walk into the area stores it is all about the fall decor, pumpkin spice galore!  I even heard a lady this morning say to the grocery store clerk, “ I wish this nice weather would hurry up and get out of here so I can put on a sweater and drink a pumpkin spice latte.”  She wasn’t teasing. In Colorado the fall season is typically shortened by a snow storm so I plan on enjoying the sunshine and roses until then. Not wanting to wish away the last days of summer.

Why do we wish things away?  When we are young we want to hurry up and be adults and then when we are adults we wish we could have some carefree days like when we were young.  When our kids are toddlers we wish they would be potty trained and not so needy and then when we drop those kids off at college we long for the days when we could ready stories to them and snuggle on the couch.

My outlook on contentment certainly has been skewed by my experience of having breast cancer.  It really gave me the gift of enjoying each day, each season of life – not only in nature but with my family and my work.  Seasons are just that, temporary moments in time.  Sometimes sunny and bright and other times dark and cold.  Whatever season you find yourself in, my prayer for you today is that you will enjoy it, learn from it, embrace it , don’t wish it away.

Pumpkin spice lattes will be enjoyed soon enough, today is an iced tea, rose filled kind of day.  I plan on enjoying it.

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