Hot Cocoa Oatmeal

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Last year during “spring” break (which is a complete misnomer since it falls the first week of March), an ice storm knocked the power out on our street for a few days.  By heating water on my dad’s camp stove, my family survived on soup-in-a-cup and instant hot chocolate.  Although hot cocoa can be enjoyed during “spring” break, it fits Christmas break much better–especially when paired with candy canes!

Hot Cocoa Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp hot cocoa mix
  • 1 peppermint candy, crushed (optional)

Directions:

  • Bring water to a boil
  • Stir in oats and return to boil
  • Stir in cocoa mix
  • Reduce heat and cook five minutes
  • Transfer to bowl and top with peppermint candy

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Top Ten Tuesday: Christmas Songs

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Christmas songs seem to be a point of dissension among friends.  Some merry carolers listen to Christmas music all year long.  Opposing Scrooges save their Christmas records solely for Christmas day.  Still others’ radios begin jingling bells around Thanksgiving.  Many people fall somewhere in between.

Personally, I listen to Christmas music sporadically throughout the year.  Around July, I usually pull out my favorite: Let it Snow Baby, Let it Reindeer by Relient K.  After listening to it a few times, I am content again until Thanksgiving.

Below, I have created a montage of my ten favorite Christmas songs.  I have arranged them into one long poem, so read straight through the all the lyrics.

Christmas Song Montage

(1) As fall rides off in the sunset, I sweep the snow from my doorstep.

I just can’t help but stop and grin; it’s like I’m ten years old again.

(2) I left the lights up all year round, I just couldn’t bear the thought of taking them down.

I’ve been singing Jingle Bell Rock since July. The neighbors look at me like I’m crazy, but I

Got a feeling that I just can’t shake, and it’s lasted 364 days.

Now I’m too excited; I can’t sleep a wink. I stare at the snow outside my window just thinking.

(3) I would love for Christmas to stay 365 days. No one dear would be far away…

Love would be the gift we gave 365 days

(4) Close your eyes and share the dream. Let everyone on earth believe.

The child was born, the stars shone bright, and love came down at Christmas time.

(5) “You see the world is dark and it needs a light. I’m gonna’ hang a star in the eastern sky.

So everybody’s gonna’ know where I touch down. I’m leaving Heaven right now.

I’m gonna’ walk around that broken Earth, trading in these streets of gold.

So if you ever wonder how much you’re worth,

You should know that you’re the reason why I’m leaving Heaven.

Ain’t gonna’ be no kingdom, ain’t gonna’ be no crown—just a little old manger, in a little old town.

But it’ll do just fine for this humble King. I’m leaving Heaven let all the angels sing.”

(6) How many kings, stepped down from their thrones? How many lords have abandoned their homes?

How many greats have become the least for me?

How many Gods have poured out their hearts to romance a world that has torn all apart?

How many fathers gave up their sons for me? Only one did that for me

(7) One king held the frankincense. One king held the myrrh.

One king held the purest gold. One king held the hope of the world.

(8) And in despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth,” I said,

“For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.”

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, their old familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good will to men.

(9) Ring Christmas bells, ring them loud with the message bringing

Peace on the earth tidings of good cheer.

Come carolers come and join with the angels singing joy to the world Christmas time is here

(10) So deck the halls with mistletoe. May all your heavy burdens go

Up the chimney in a cloud of smoke–the fire’s burning bright.

Strike up the band and play the tune ‘cause Christmas will be hear and soon.

You’ll hear our song in every room this merry Christmas night.

Singing merry Christmas, here’s to many more.

1. Christmas this Year, TobyMac

2. Come on, Christmas, Matthew West

3. 365, Nicole C. Mullen

4. When Love Came Down, Point of Grace

5. Leaving Heaven, Matthew West

6. How Many Kings, Downhere

7. One King, Point of Grace

8. I heard the Bells on Christmas Day, Steven Curtis Chapman

9. Christmastime, Michael W. Smith

10.  Merry Christmas, Here’s to Many More, Relient K

What is your opinion on Christmas music?  What are your favorite Christmas songs?

My Friend Orion

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When I was just a child, my dad introduced me to Orion, the warrior who made nightly visits to protect earth. Orion has been a faithful friend ever since. I always know where to find him; he appears and leaves approximately the same times every day. He stands unmoving, but his sword is always drawn, ready for battle.

Men have befriended Orion since the ancient times, and without saying a word, Orion delivers musings. How many eyes have counted the jewels in his belt? Who else is sharing an awe-full moment with me right now?

Some of the oldest extant writings refer to this faithful fighter. From a whirlwind, God questions Job, “Can you…loose the bands of Orion?” Of course not! In human terms, Orion is untouchable; no man can influence him in the least. Yet, this mighty man is just as humble as you and I.  God, who “maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the clambers of the south,” can manipulate Orion however He pleases.

When I see Orion, I am once again filled with childlike wonder. Billions of miles separate me from this giant in the sky. Imagine God’s magnificence. He “spread out the sky” as simply as I pour Scrabble tiles out of a bag. “When I consider the heavens, the work of [God’s] fingers,” I remember who I am–a finite creation made to serve an omnipotent God.

Cold Morning; Warm Breakfast

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I am told that hot coffee is wonderful on a cold morning, but I cannot personally attest to that fact.  Although my mom drinks straight black coffee on a daily basis, I have no affection for the bitter drink.  However, I am always seeking for unique ways to cook oatmeal, and using coffee as the base sounded like an interesting approach.

To my surprise, I loved this oatmeal!  The dark taste of coffee was indeed warming, and the gingerbread flavor was perfect for a wintry morning.

Gingerbread Latte Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup strong black coffee
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Directions

  • Bring water and coffee to a boil
  • Reduce heat to medium and stir in oatmeal
  • Add cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and vanilla
  • Stir in honey before servinggingerbreadcoffee

Adapted from theoatmealartist.com

Return

Return

Once upon a time, there was a young believer.  With faith like a child, she accepted every truth of Scripture.  She grasped and treasured ever moment with her Lord, and she trusted that God directed the world with sovereignty.  Her faith could have moved mountains. 

As time wore on, she saw the glitter of the world.  Some acquaintances, who claimed God was dead, were prospering.  She, on the other hand, was struggling to make ends meet.  Didn’t God want her to be happy?  The rich cohorts ridiculed her faith, claiming it was a man-made invention.  “If your mystical God really cared about you,” they claimed, “He would give you what you want.” 

Her faith slipped.  One misstep at a time, she walked away from God for the glamor of the world.  In hopes of being like her affluent companions, she began spending time with them.  She worked extra shifts to fund the affluent lifestyle she sought.  After late Saturday nights out with the bounteous group, she chose sleep over church.  Her unopened Bible remained on the shelf. As she frolicked in her new life, she accepted her friends’ beliefs:  God was a man-made invention.

Before long, she was burnt out.  Despite the exhausting extra hours at work, she had gone into deep debt to match her friends.  Her heart, once so trusting and carefree, had become numb and hard.  Recalling the joy of her youthful faith, she felt drained.  Those paltry days had been peaceful, but she now had no where to find solace.  She had left God.  Surely He would not welcome her back. 

Is this you?  Have you forgotten your first love?  He hasn’t forgotten you.  Have you been unfaithful?  “He remains faithful” (II Timothy 2:13).  Have you failed to believe?  God’s faith is still effective (Romans 3:3).  “God is not man” (Numbers 23:19).  He does not change (Malachi 3:6).  He is the same God that loved you in the past, and He is compassionately waiting for you to love Him again (Luke 15:20).

Come back to Him.

Top Ten Tuesday: Beauty

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“Turn around,”  the classmate approaching us commanded.

When my trio of friends turned to face the church we had just left, we saw the why.  The moon shone brilliantly above the roof.  It appeared so close that I felt I could touch it.

“Wait,” one of the girls with me called, “I want to get a picture.”  As she lifted her iPad, I shook my head.  The best camera in the world could not have done justice to the beauty God had painted that night.

It is no secret that I love to take pictures.  However, there are some beautiful things my camera will never capture.

Ten Things Too Beautiful for a Camera

1. The moon I saw Sunday night

2. Peace that passes understanding

3. The knowledge that someone is praying for you

4. The sound of international voices raised in praise to God

5. Friends conversing around a bonfire

6. A field of stars on a warm summer night

7. The tender love of an aged couple

8. Pure joy

9. The protection of a warm embrace

10.  The tinkling of children’s laughter

You’ll Never Flip Me; I’m a Gingerbread Pancake

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  The college halls have been “decked”, the church across the street is building a nativity, and ugly sweaters are making an appearance in the cafeteria.  It’s time to celebrate!

The idea came to me as I lay in bed one cold morning.  Gingerbread man pancakes!  After pulling myself from the warm covers, I gathered my supplies to create a delicious, wintry breakfast.  Eggs, flour, applesauce, spices, I had everything I needed.  Except a man-shaped cookie cutter.  Whatever, I thought, I will make this work without a cookie cutter.gingerbread2

First, I mixed together all of the ingredients (see below).  It smelled delicious!

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Then, I poured my batter onto the pan in the shape of a gingerbread man.

This is where I ran into a little trouble.  I couldn’t get my man to flip.  At all.

After a little reconstructive surgery, I formed what you see below…

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One mishap was not going to stop me, though.  I still had over half of my batter left.  I poured it all into the pan to make one large pancake.  My plan was to use cookie cutters to cut the large pancake into shapes.

I can’t flip a pancake. gingerbread5
So I did what any self-respecting blogger would do.  I smashed my pancake scraps together in a  cookie cutter, took some pictures, and told all my loyal readers about the ordeal.

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Hey, looks aren’t everything.  It’s the delicious taste of these babies that counts!

Gingerbread Man Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 tbs. wheat flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. all spice
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 scant pinch cloves

Directions

  • Thoroughly combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  • Coat a pan with non-stick spray and warm over medium heat.
  • Pour batter by spoonful onto pan.
  • Once bubbles are forming on top of the batter, flip the pancake.
  • Cook several more minutes.
  • Transfer to plate.
  • Eat and enjoy!