11.27.2013

May I Be Excused?

Every year there has been a Christmas season series of some sort on the blog(s). When it was A Mother's Rewards and Living Large on Less, there were games, daily questions, ideas, recipes, and more. This year, well, there's nothing. Oh, I'm sure there will be assorted random posts that might be applicable for Christmas, but a major party with games and prizes? Sorry, no, at least not that I am aware of at this moment.

This year I am asking to be excused from the traditional Christmas craziness. I don't have the time, energy, or desire for hooplah. All I want is Jesus. That's it. Just Him. My heart is hungering to linger at the manger soaking in God's gift of Love, Him gifting Himself, more than rocking around the Christmas tree. The question of what I can give Jesus is foremost in the thoughts. What kind of Christmas does God want us to have? What decorations will He delight in? How can our celebratory traditions bring Him glory and honor?

Want to know something a bit unexpected? The more I focus on Jesus, the sweeter and more delightful Christmas becomes to me. The more I want to celebrate. Decoration ideas increase. Everything about the season amps up. Whenever people become intentional and purposeful about their worship of God, they begin living as they were created to live. When life is lived as it is meant to be, everything amps up. Intensity, sweetness, focus, purpose, enjoyment, delight, strength, joy, peace, it all grows. Trials bring their revealing giants too, but the Truth of Jesus changes every nasty "fact" the giant(s) hurl at us. 

Want to know something else God showed me? When I am in the position of worship, whether that be at the feet of Jesus or the manger, trials and giants aren't nearly so threatening. Positioning myself in the posture of worship puts the rest of my life in perspective. Truth changes fact. "If God be for me, who can be against me?" "With God, all things are possible." "If God be on my side, what can man do to me.?" Truth after glorious truth from the Word of God rises up within me conquering the fears, doubts, and struggles that threaten as I sit in the presence of the King of Kings.

As Thanksgiving arrives tomorrow with Christmas soon to follow, Abundance House is raising it's hand and asking to be excused from the hustle and bustle, the stress and struggles of a holiday gone wild. We are excusing ourselves from the madness this year. Any who wish to join us in our intentional pursuit of Truth, our sojourn at the manger which will find us at both the cross and empty tomb, may. All are welcome to worship the One who came as a babe, left a man, and lives eternal. The heart of this blog and its author is crying out for holidays to be returned to their meaning "holy days". All who want may come.

From the heart of Abundance House,
Abundantly Blessed

11.26.2013

Making Your Own...Playdough

Homemade playdough. Can you feel the grainy frit on your hands just thinking about it? Me too. If you recall bygone days of childhood where the smell and grit of homemade playdough stayed with you for hours, then you will be as pleased as I was to find the following recipe for a no-cook, smooth-textured playdough. If there will be children at your holiday celebrations, this may be just what they need for playtime fun. Do keep in mind that playdough can be messy so may not be ideal for extremely small children or those who are a bit on the excited side of life.

PLAYDOUGH

2 c. flour
1/2 c. salt
2 T. cream of tartar
2 T. oil
1 1/2 c. boiling water
desired add-ins - glitter, coloring, scents

Mix dry ingredients and oil together. Stir in boiling water and food coloring. Add needed flour or water in small increments as needed to reach desired consistency. Knead in add-ins. Dough can be played with for long periods of time without getting dry. Store in airtight container. Would make nice gift.

Side notes: Dough can be mixed by hand. I used stand mixer for ease. Some have used food processor successfully too. One person dissolved salt in boiling water first. I didn't and dough was smooth. I did add food coloring to boiling water before mixing in. This was a good plan. Glitter and other items can be added as desired. I also made two batches then created third color by combining small amounts of the other two colors and blending together. My kiddos want to make more playdough in other colors now. I didn't tell Giggle that adding glitter was an option. That's something I'm saving for possible stocking stuffer ideas.

Holiday Relationships

The holidays. Oh what bliss. Yeah, right. Sometimes that may be a somewhat accurate description, but not for everyone, every year. Blog author Gary Morland describes coming together with relatives as possibly being  compared to driving a gas truck over a campfire. If completely honest, there are situations in all of our lives that fit Mr. Morland's description.

If your holiday gatherings have explosive potential, and not in a good way, then the 7 tips in the article linked above will provide assistance. Please enjoy them and don't forget to leave a comment expressing your appreciation while there.

While pondering on the seven tips Mr. Morland shared in his blog article, the thought came to me that the way a person relates to another is greatly influenced by their perspective, focus, and outlook, both of others and  themselves. One consistency noticed when thinking on these suggestions is that each suggestion is from the perspective of how to make the other person feel comfortable, welcome, and at ease. None of the suggestions are on how to make one's self feel better.

Serving. Considering others first. This can only be done when a person is secure in their own position. AND can anyone be completely secure in a position other than that of being in Christ? As the mental ponderings continue, I feel the quiet excitement that accompanies transforming revelation begin to penetrate. Serving others. There it is! That's the answer. The scripture confirms it. The one who wants to be great in God's kingdom must be a servant. (Matthew 20:26) One version says a servant "of all". Oh, of all. All is a very big word. God is a very big God.

No matter the situation we find ourselves in this holiday season, God's Word contains every answer. Join me in thanking Him for His goodness and grace?

Abundantly Blessed





11.22.2013

Thanksgiving, Am I Thankful?

Thanksgiving is one week from tomorrow. One week until Thanksgiving means a mere five weeks until Christmas. Before Christmas, however, there is Thanksgiving. Those words soak into my consciousness with a soothing warmth "Before Christmas, there is Thanksgiving."

Yes, every thing must be led by a "before". Something always comes before. More accurately, Someone always come before. God. God always comes before. Before everything, there was God. "In the beginning God created..." (Genesis 1:1) "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God." (John 1:1,2) Sometimes I forget this. Sometimes I forget who He is, who I am. Sometimes I forget it all.

I forget. Wait. Do I? Do I really, truly forget or do I choose not to remember? Not sure I want to go here, but pressing on still. Oh sure, I'm busy. Husband, seven children, homeschooling, it's a given my days are full. Yet busy doesn't excuse me. Every day is filled with decisions. Every word, each action and attitude, all of them are choices. Whether they are chosen intentionally or by default, all are decisions, decisions I have made. Sobering thought that it is, I alone am responsible for every single one of them.

Thanksgiving. This is about Thanksgiving. Intentionally thankful decisions of word, thought, and deed are a refreshing consideration to be sure. Especially this year when the house is ringing with the loud and full sounds of a large family. A tired, hungry baby vents frustration at being left behind as brother and sister run out to play while hormonally influenced sisters unknowingly lash sharp. Yes, Before Christmas, Thanksgiving must come.

Thankful for Much,
Abundantly Blessed

11.21.2013

What to Do What to Do

Ever wanted to encourage someone who was struggling and after doing so realized they weren't in the least bit encouraged? That not only were they not encouraged, they were inwardly making themselves a promise to not ever share with you again? Yeah, me too.

How does this happen? I silently wonder. I did what I would want someone to do for me. That's what God says to do. Isn't it? It is. So why wasn't it encouraging? I would love it if someone would do that for me.

Perhaps that is why God tells me in His Word to walk in the Spirit.(Galatians 5:16) Without being led by the Holy Spirit, I can only operate in my human understanding. My human understanding is incapable of knowing what is needed in every single situation. Only God the Holy Spirit can perfectly lead and guide me in the perfect way. (John 16:13,14)

True as it may be that God says to do to others as I would have them do to me, (Leviticus 9:18, Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31) I don't really want others to encourage me in the way they would like to be encouraged. What I honestly want others to do is listen to and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and then encourage me as He instructs them to. Only then will they be able to successfully minister encouragement specifically to me.

So that's where the breakdown happened. Instead of asking, listening, and then obeying God's leading, I did what I would want done for me. That would have been perfect, if they were me, but they aren't. Therefore, mission encouragement was unsuccessful. Despite my honest, sincere, love-filled intentions, no encouragement was received, none at all.

Now what? The question comes from a heart humbly quiet. Quiet that rises from the ashes of failure is heavy inside. Heavenly Father has lovingly shown truth. Ah, now I see. Like a penitent child, I am thankful for and amazed by His undeserved love and acceptance. Once more He has extended grace towards this girl woman of His when she rushed on with more zeal than knowledge, more eagerness to help than wisdom for how to do so.

Amazing Love from an amazing God, who is Love. (1 John 4:7,8) Thankful for God, Love and bowing my heart in worship this day and the ones to come.

Abundantly Blessed @ Abundance House


11.19.2013

Whatever You Call Them

It seems as if every people group has a variety of buns filled with meat and cheese. I grew up with the ground beef, cabbage variety called Bierocks. Whatever you call them, pockets of dough filled with meat and cheese are delicious to eat and easy to make. Possible combinations of meat, cheese, and other ingredients are almost endless. Our family has made them with pizza flavors, taco, ham and cheese, as well as traditional beef and cabbage. The recipe for a cheeseburger version is below.

CHEESEBURGER RUNZAS

Filling:
2 lb. ground beef, browned with onion, seasoned to taste
thickening mixture, as if making gravy
cheese, desired amount and kind

Dough:
4 C. flour - can do 2 C. white & 2 C. wheat
2 1/4 t. yeast
1/4 C. oil
1 t. salt
1 1/2 to 2 C. hot water (110-120 degrees)

While ground beef is browning, mix together dough ingredients in mixer with dough hook attachment, cover and rest.

While dough is resting, finish browning ground beef. After beef has browned, stir in thickener and add any necessary liquid until mixture is just moistened. Don't want mixture to be too runny as it is being placed in dough. After mixture is thickened and any flavor from thickener has cooked out, add cheese and stir until melted through. Add any desired seasonings at this time and stir in.

Divide dough into 8 sections. If smaller buns are desired for children, divide into 16 sections instead of 8. Make each section into ball and roll out flat. Place desired amount of filling on dough, bring up edges and pinch shut to seal.

Place on baking sheet, and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Can brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with seasonings, if desired. May want to use a baking sheet with sides as filling juices sometimes leak out a bit.

The only thing left is to enjoy! Oh yes, always plan on making more than you think you will need, and don't be concerned with having any leftover. If there are any left, they freeze and reheat beautifully. Doubtful there will be any though. There seldom are at Abundance House. Just a little sidenote: these meat pockets lend themselves perfectly to picnics and other on-the-go situations. They also stay warm long enough to accomodate traveling. To avoid condensation which causes soggy bread, wrap in clean tea towel before placing in traveling container. The buns can also be made ahead, frozen, and baked later.

Now I'm hungry. Until next time!
Abundantly Blessed @ Abundance House

11.12.2013

Popcorn Balls - The Gooey Variety

The other day I was pondering what meal to make for a family who is celebrating the recent arrival of a new baby. The meal was for a Friday night supper. It didn't take long for my train of thought to hop on the Friday night track which led to ideas for a fun, fall Friday supper. At our house, popcorn balls from Grandma are a fall tradition. 

Guess I shouldn't have been too surprised when the thought of making popcorn balls as the dessert for the new baby meal came to mind. Immediately, my thoughts were off! A fun, fall meal for a Friday night! There are small children! Popcorn balls with colorful candy scattered throughout and pizza! Uhm, scratch the pizza. This meal has to travel a bit before arriving at its destination. We want it to be hot when it gets there. Pizza won't make it. Hmmm, runzas! That's it! Pockets of dough filled with meat and cheese. Those would travel well and still be hot enough to eat! Yea!!! A lettuce salad would round out the meal nicely.

As I was making the popcorn balls, I wondered the same thing I wondered the previous weekend while making homemade crispy treats. "These things are so easy. Why don't I make them more often?" Why do I think homemade treats have to take a ton of time and use the oven? Quick and easy tastes just as good and less rush makes for a more relaxed mama, which everyone enjoys. Sometimes, the ease and speed of preparation is worth any extra expense. A quick mental breakdown of costs in my head reveals that these quick and easy goodies don't cost more than others. It just seems as if they do because they are made from ingredients, marshmallows, I don't keep stocked in my pantry.

Because our family prefers gooey popcorn balls over the crunchy version, popcorn balls and crispy treats are made the exact same way. The only differences between the two is that one uses popcorn, the other crispy cereal, and the crispy treats are smooshed into a pan while the popcorn balls are shaped into round, ball-like shapes. Well, least they are supposed to end up round. Here's how it went down yesterday. No one wanted to help make them, but it was still lots of fun. OK, correction. Two small somebodies wanted to help make them until they saw how sticky the mixture was. That's when it became a solo event:)

POPCORN BALLS:
6 C. popped popcorn, preferably free of unpopped kernels
40 large marshmallows
3 T. butter

Melt marshmallows and butter together. Pour over popcorn. Stir together. Butter hands and shape mixture into balls. Wrap individual balls in plastic wrap or place each ball in sandwich-sized plastic bag.

Possible additions: Candy, nuts, food coloring(add this to marshmallow, butter mixture before stirring into popcorn), vanilla or other flavorings.

I think that making popcorn balls might become addictive, if a person let it. If getting your hands all buttery and gooey isn't your idea of fun, the mixture can be pressed into a pan, just like crispy treats. If you really want to bump it up a notch, press the mixture into a bundt pan to create a popcorn cake. This is really, really easy and lots of fun! The addition of colorful candy and nuts really gives the cake a fun, party appearance. Chocolate and/or caramel can be drizzled over the top of the popcorn cake too, if desired. Yum, right now I'm thinking of how tasty a chocolate drizzle sprinkled with hazelnuts might be. Ooh, what if it were a caramel popcorn cake with chocolate drizzle and chopped pecans or walnuts? Yum, yum.

Popcorn balls, popcorn treat bars, and popcorn cake all make yummy treats that are super easy to make. They are ideal for last minute desserts and are good sellers at bake sales too. Popcorn balls or treat bars can be sweet tucked into a Christmas stocking. Balls that have been colored with green food coloring can be stacked on a platter to form a Christmas tree. Colored candies can be the ornaments. My mom adds orange coloring for fall treats. All of this can be done with crispy treat mixture as well. Whatever's on hand works. Imagination and creativity make it fun.

Remember those pockets of dough stuffed with meat and cheese? Those ended up being cheeseburger flavor. They smelled delicious cooking, and the filling that leaked out onto the baking pan was so good. That's another easy recipe, one for later.

Off to play with playdough - another recipe for later,
Abundantly Blessed @ Abundance House

11.09.2013

Words of Life And Truth

"Do not think that you know everything! Do not think that you know everything because of the present."

These are words a modern day prophet shared from God. These words the prophet shared captured my attention because they are the same words God has been impressing upon me for many months, maybe a year or more? "Do not think that you know everything! Do not think that you know everything because of the present."

Over and over and over I have been hearing the words "There's too much you don't know." Situation after situation has threatened my peace only to be met with the words "There's too much you don't know". Time and time again this one sentence has been quietly dispelling threatening emotional disturbances with a gentleness that can only come from God. The inaudible reminder receives voice as opportunities to share it with others come with greater frequency.

These words from God are living. They breathe life to situations that are dying and in decay. They also put to death worry, anxiety, and fear, those contaminators of faith that attempt to steal trust and peace with their threats. When joined together with the reminder that what I DO know is greater than what I don't, the desposit of faith inside is set free to soar. Impossible with man is no longer noticed in the shining greatness of the omnipotent God's omniscience.

Voices crying out death, destruction, and hate are rendered silent in the light of God's love and supernatural protection and care. (Psalm 23, 91, and many more) Nasty may be a fact, but truth changes fact. Truth, God's Word, is what I need to be feasting on. I must be intimate with Truth if the deceitful voices working against God and His kingdom are to be recognized and overcome. Gentle reminders continue to softly speak God's Words of truth inside. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Be excellent at what is good. Be innocent of evil." (Romans 12:21 and Romans 16:19)

Abiding and listening close to Love,
Abundantly Blessed @ Abundance House

11.08.2013

Wood Pulp in my Cheese?

Lumber-yard


While reading a healthy food publication recently, a fact reached out and caught my attention. The article stated that the anti-caking agent used in shredded cheese has an official name but is in reality wood pulp. What?! For real? Let me tell you, that was just the clincher I needed to make a complete switcharoo from shredded to chunk. The few minutes spent shredding a chunk of cheese are not only really fun because it just seems so "gourmet", they are healthier.

When you quit laughing at the fact that shredding my own cheese seems "gourmet" to me, feel free to do some research of your own about this. Please don't take anything you read as gospel truth unless it is the Gospel, of course. I confess that I haven't taken the time to look into this fact any further. I wanted to make the switch anyway because chunk cheese I shred at home melts so much smoother than already shredded does. Price wise, chunk cheese isn't any more expensive either.

Continuing on to talk some more about cheese...after watching a show on a food channel, My Beloved stretched our cheese wings and purchased some new varieties to try on our pizza. They were yummy. Did they make our pizza taste enough better to justify regularly purchasing of them? The verdict isn't in on that yet. It was, however, really fun trying something new. If we have to be in the kitchen , and we do, we might as well have fun. Hadn't we?

So, what do you use or do in the kitchen that seems extra fun or "gourmet"?

Someone's in the kitchen,
Abundantly Blessed @ Abundance House

11.07.2013

Remembering This


LIVING IN THE SPIRIT
Part 1

" Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord of hosts"
(Zechariah 4:6).

Every once in a while, okay, frequently, regularly, reminders are needed so that focus can be maintained. Above Rubies devotion for ladies was just such a reminder for me on this first day of November. As we continue on into Autumn splendor, perhaps this devotional is good for us all. You can read it at http://aboverubies.org/ It's in the devotional section.

11.06.2013

Christmas Time's A Comin'

Christmas time is indeed coming. Abundance House is putting forth serious effort towards being ready, early. Being ready might not mean every gift purchased or made. It might look a lot more like all of the lists and plans written out and plotted to perfection. Then again, being ready this Christmas season might look more like intentionally planning on doing less thereby freeing time to enjoy more.

This brings us to another pondering question.

"If you could only do one thing to celebrate Christmas, what would you do?"

Oh my. This may be the most difficult ponder yet. Only one thing? Seriously? OK. I'm in. I'll do it. I'll answer the question. Who knows? I might surprise myself at the answer.

Letting you ponder too,
Abundantly Blessed @ Abundance House blog

11.04.2013

Yes Do - Recommendations from Abundance

I know I recommend A Holy Experience blog. a lot. But please, take some time to read the 31 Days of posts Ann Voskamp has written for the month of October. Please do. So many of these posts have words to ponder and chew on. You won't regret the time spent there. Ann Voskamp, author of A Thousand Gifts also has a new book out, a book that is on my Christmas list.

Also, Emily P. Freeman from Chatting At the Sky blog and author of God's Grace for the Good Girl has written another book: A Million Little Ways. This one is on my Christmas list too. You might want to check it out and add it to yours as well.

One more recommendation then I am finished, I promise. Well, finished for today:) Sarah Hart Pearsons has a new worship CD out. If you haven't heard her, I can only say one thing about this woman. Anointed by God. CDs can be found through Kenneth Copeland Ministries at kcm.org. There may be other sources. This is the one I know of.

Alright, I'm out of here. Baby has moved from crawling to standing up at tables etc. Magazines, books, papers on coffee and end tables are extremely exposed and vulnerable right now. Babies love the sound of paper crinkling and tearing. They also adore watching and listening to older bros & sis go into high gear hollering and running to rescue their favorite books, mags, etc. Nobody can wail "Oh, ba-a-by!" like an older sister. And no one's eyes can twinkle so delightedly as a baby brother's when making an older sister wail either.

Rescuing the magazines @ Abundance House,
Abundantly Blessed

11.01.2013

Antlers

Antlers show up frequently in rustic and/or country decorating styles. While reading a post on another blog recently I realized that there are quite a few people who are uncomfortable decorating with real deer antlers because they think that an animal has been killed to obtain them. Seeing all of the comments left on the aforementioned post left me feeling sorry for all of these people who recognize the beauty but are unable to fully enjoy it due to a lack of knowledge. Wanting all to freely appreciate God's beautiful handiwork evidenced in an antler's coloring and shape, this post is my feeble attempt to be helpful. Maybe it will be of assistance to someone.

Here's the scoop: deer shed their antlers and regrow new ones annually. Antlers that have fallen off are referred to as sheds. These sheds can be found lying on the ground wherever they fell off of the deer. It is not uncommon to stumble upon several sheds in a single location. If one has permission from the landowner, sheds can be freely obtained. Most landowners are happy to have them gone as they can be damaging to vehicles and equipment. Unless they want them for themselves that is. Hence the recommendation to obtain permission. Also, not every animal's death is the result of a killing. A full or partial skull mount does require the death of an animal. Animals do, however, die of natural causes. Finding an entire skull with antlers attached is not as common, but it does happen on occasion. There. That's the fact. Antlers can be freely obtained without a deer being harmed in any way.

Now, before signing off, I do want to add that just because I want people to know the truth regarding shed antlers doesn't mean I am anti-hunting. I respectfully support hunting and the right to bear arms as granted by the United States Constitution. They are both essential freedoms that ought never to be infringed upon. I simply can't see people being denied the privilege of appreciating an antler's beauty because of an unknown fact regarding the annual antler shedding.

Digging out my stash of sheds,
Abundantly Blessed @ Abundance House