Hope · Spiritual Refreshment

Blow Off the Dust

See the dust coming from the top of the page?

It was early Sunday morning and I had gotten my coffee and journal and cozied myself on the sofa where I could read my devotions and enjoy the warmth of the sun on a cold November dawn. Looking around, I realized I had left my Bible in the other room. I glanced over to the bookcase beside the sofa, and I spotted one of my old Bibles that I had “retired” quite a few years ago. I pulled it off the shelf and seated myself once again. This Bible was like an old friend. It’s pages are worn, curled and marked, but oh, so loved.

I flipped the pages to go to where my Bible plan had brought me. It was II Peter 1. As the page opened, I saw flecks of dust dancing in the sunlight! It was proof that this Bible had been unused for some time, but when I read its pages, it said,

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue

My heart swelled as I read those words. How precious that the Lord has given us everything we need for this life in Christ, and where do we find it? In His word.

  • When my heart is overwhelmed, I can get strength from His Word.
  • When I am filled with fear, I can get faith from His Word.
  • When I am sad or worried, I can get peace from His Word.
  • When I feel alone, I am reminded of His presence in His Word.

To neglect the Word of God is to reject all that we need to do more than merely survive the day. I’m pretty sure we’re all interested in more than “just making it.”

It’s easy to get too busy, too involved in other activities, or too tired that we neglect God’s Word, and when we finally come to ourselves, we find our souls more dusty than the Bible’s pages.

If you’ve “fallen off the wagon,” in your reading plan, go get your Bible and open its pages to find just what the Lord wants to teach you about Himself today. It’s truth is deeper than the dust. It will show you
the Way to go,
the Truth you need to hear and
the Life to guide you on your way…
and all that is found in our Savior,

If you’ve neglected God’s Word, blow off the dust and dive in. You’ll be refreshed and strengthened for your path today.

Kitchen Tips

Meal Prep Tips I Want to Remember

I pray that your Thanksgiving was a blessing! We had a wonderful time together as a family. The food everyone prepared was delicious. The fellowship was sweet. The memories made were priceless. Oh, and dessert was amazing!

It was a huge blessing to have help with the meal. My girls are both great cooks, and they made incredible contributions to our meal! That took off a lot of prep on my part as the hostess.

I did a couple of new things for this meal that I want to mark and remember for future gatherings centered on food. I hope they’ll be tips you can utilize as well!

Look at that full gravy boat!!
  • Gravy ~ Gravy is often difficult! I find it getting lumpy or being too thick! If you ever struggle with making gravy, you’re going to love this first tip! Is it just the south, or is it everywhere that gravy is really important? Without gravy, turkey can be a bit bland and sometimes dry. Mashed potatoes need gravy like peanut butter needs jelly! Even biscuits are better dipped in a little puddle of gravy! Maybe I didn’t need to convince you how important gravy is, but now that we have that settled, let me share my little hack I learned.
Gravy base

It’s all about making a gravy base ahead of time. I saw a video on Instagram by a chef from King Arthur Flour that suggested this method to make your holiday meal come together so much easier. Usually the gravy is made at the very last minute of the meal prep, and it can be stressful! Using their method, I made the gravy base on Tuesday! All I needed to do on Thanksgiving Day was add the turkey drippings to the base and whisk it together to produce a quart of gravy . Here’s how I made it.

Gravy Base

  • 4 Tbl butter
  • 1/2 Cup flour
  • 2 cups Chicken Stock

Melt the butter in a medium-sized sauce pan. Whisk in the 1/2 cup flour slowly and incorporate it into the butter. It will be very thick. Slowly add the chicken stock and whisk constantly until all stock is added and the base is smooth. Turn to low and cook 25 minutes. Do not season. Stir occasionally.
Store in fridge. I froze mine, then thawed it out the morning I needed it.
To make the gravy – Add the base to pan drippings. Whisk to keep it smooth. Skim off fat. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

When I added the base, I was worried that it was going to clump, maybe because I froze it, but it did not! It was so easy! I will definitely do this from now on!! You could also use this method for roast by using beef stock!

  • Half-sized desserts – The other hack I tried was with making smaller desserts. Maybe you’re rolling your eyes, asking why you’d want to make less dessert! Read on…

    I love to make what everyone enjoys, but I also don’t want to have an abundance left over. One son-in-law loves the Pumpkin Crunch Cake and the other loves Pumpkin Pie, but we were also having Pumpkin Cheesecake and Kentucky Derby Pie!

Pumpkin Crunch Cake is basically a pumpkin pie filling on the bottom, with a cake mixture on top. But since the cake makes a 9 x 13 pan – and the pie would fill a 10 inch pie plate, I knew it would be more than we would eat. The solution? Divide the pumpkin filling and make two small desserts. Here’s how I did it.

I made up the base (pumpkin filling) for the cake and used half of it for a small pie. This is a 7-8 inch pan…

I poured the other half of the pumpkin mixture into a square pan for the cake, then I used half of a cake mix for the top of the Crunch Cake.

Both of those pumpkin desserts were gone by the time the weekend was over! That worked out beautifully!

It can be scary to change a recipe and try something that you think will work. I made one other change and that was to reduce the amount of sugar in the Crunch cake. It calls for 1 1/2 cups, but I noticed that a pumpkin pie recipe only requires 3/4 cup, so I decided to go with the lesser amount and it wasn’t even detectable! It was perfectly sweet! I’m sure the sweetened whipped cream might have also helped!

Whenever I find little hacks that helped, I try to write them at the front of a frequently used cookbook or in a binder that I use all the time in the kitchen. When I make any alterations to a recipe, I write it on the recipe card or in the book I’m using.

Did you implement any hacks while preparing Thanksgiving dinner?
I would also love to know if anyone struggles with making gravy?

  • If you need small desserts, you could also make these!
  • If you need a pie crust recipe that’s delicious, you can find mine here. You can also go to my Instagram profile and find a video demonstrating pie crust making!
entertaining · Thanksgiving · Time management

My Thanksgiving Dinner Timeline

Since I am hosting Thanksgiving this year, I have made a timeline for myself that began a few weeks ago. It’s been so helpful to get projects done and pre-baking in the freezer.

Someone asked if I would share my agenda for Thanksgiving day preparation, and I am happy to post my schedule. Keep in mind, however, that I am having help from my girls with a charcuterie board, sides and dessert, so those items will not be part of my plans.

I will also add the specific times for my Thursday agenda. That way I will know that the turkey has 45 minutes to one hour to rest before carving (it will be covered with foil and dish towels to keep warm). While the turkey is resting, the gravy will be finished up and the biscuits will be baked. Any other items that need to be warmed will also be put in the oven.

Lord willing and the biscuits rise, dinner will be served at 1 o’clock!

Are you following a minute by minute schedule that will keep you on time? What else do you add to your prep?

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I will post again next week!

gratitude · hospitality · Hostess Goals · Thanksgiving

Don’t Miss Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving!

Have you ever gotten past a “big” holiday only to realize that you missed it? Oh, you celebrated with the food, the decorations and the flare, but you got so caught up in all the trappings that you didn’t really celebrate the true holiday. I think we’ve all been there a time or two (or twenty)!

In order to help us not regret “missing Thanksgiving,” I think it’s important to do some thinking and planning NOW to ensure that the holiday will be celebrated in a way that is a blessing to all who gather because we focused on what was really, truly important. That would not mean the lumpy gravy, the squashed rolls or the dry turkey, but on giving thanks. It’s just so easy to sit down to a bountiful table, everyone starving and ready to dive in, have the blessing for the meal, finish with dessert and football and totally overlook stopping for worship and givng of thanks to our great God for ALL His blessings.

Let me make a couple suggestions to help you plan for this time – no matter the size of the group that gathers.

  • If you’re married, talk to your husband about how you could incorporate a time of giving thanks into your day. Ask for his input and depend on him to help implement this (if possible).
  • Consider the food. If the meal is hot and on the table, the time of the blessing might not be the best time to also go around and have everyone share the things for which they’re thankful. That’s spoken from the hostess side who wants the food to be hot! Perhaps during the meal or afterwards would be better.
  • Let everyone that’s coming know that they need to be thinking about the blessings they could share. Being prepared is helpful for everyone.
  • Reading a portion of Scripture after dinner would be a great tradition. Psalm 34, 44:4-8, 92, 95, 100, 111, or 138 would all be good choices.
  • Sing a hymn together. If your family isn’t musical, use Alexa to play it and join in singing!
  • Spend time praying for one another.

My family has had what we call “Puff Moments” for many years on Thanksgiving Day. We gather in the living room after supper and share our blessings from the past year. There are inevitably many tears shed as we rehearse the ways God has answered prayer or helped in trials. The Puffs get passed around the room! What a sweet time it always is.

Plan ahead and prepare your own heart and that of your guests so you won’t miss out on giving thanks this Thanksgiving.

Share one blessing from this past year. I have my Puff ready!

Bible study · Christian growth · Spiritual Refreshment

Hang Onto Every Word

Enraptured. Listening to every word spoken from His lips.

That’s the way the crowd at the temple listened to Jesus speak. He had just cleared out the money changers. They were the ones who had turned the temple of prayer into a place where robbers lurked. The Scribes and Pharisees hated him and only desired to kill Him, and what do we find Jesus doing? Teaching there in that temple. He spoke with such authority in simple words they could understand with Truth they had never heard before.

Luke 19:48 says…

All the people were very attentive to hear him.

In the Greek it says that they were “hanging on to His lips.” We have a saying that is similar. We would say, “they were hanging onto every word.”

What a contrast His words were to the formal, boring, dry, powerless and over-their-heads teaching from the scribes! Jesus’ words were life-giving and life-changing!

They still are.

Is your ear bent down close to your Bible so you can hear Him speak to you each day? Oh that we would say with the psalmist in Psalm 119 ~

 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.

15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.

16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

17 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.

18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

When you get in your car and “tune in” to a radio station, you can only listen to one station at a time. When you open your Bible to read, or when you are sitting in church listening to God’s Word being taught, are you “tuned in” to only one station – that of hearing from God? Or are you trying to tune in to several stations at one time – your text messages, your email alerts, your Facebook notifications or other distractions?

Oh that we would love God’s Words so much that we would “hang on to every word” so we won’t miss a single thing He wants to say to us!

Refresh the way you listen to the Word today. Stay tuned in to only One voice. What precious words did He speak to you today?