Monthly Archives: December 2011

A Happy & Blessed New Year!

Giving Thanks

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

    A Psalm for giving thanks.

 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

 Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

 For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

—Psalm 100:1-5

Wonderful…not

WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY?

Today is supposed to be Wonderful Wednesday and I am feeling anything but that. All of last week’s activities and  preparations for Christmas have finally caught up with me. Somehow a mountain of laundry has piled up so I’m pushing through that today but my plans to take down the Christmas decorations will have to wait.

Those of you who deal with chronic pain illnesses will be able to relate to what I’m going through this week. We force ourselves to do what has to be done (and more), knowing full well that there will be payback. That’s what this week is all about for me.

Read the rest here.

 

Waiting for the Savior

I know this is the day after Christmas but I wrote this a couple of weeks ago and yesterday my wonderful friend Johnny Harkins at GEM Ministries published this in his newsletter. I hope you’ll enjoy it a day late!

“But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD;

I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.”

—Micah 7:7

What a wonderful example the prophet Micah is to us! As one of the minor prophets, the first few chapters of his short Old Testament book are basically messages of God’s judgment on Samaria and Jerusalem. But toward the end of this book, we see clear evidence of Micah’s faith and confidence that God would send a Savior.

As humans, we think we’ve got all the answers. And even when we don’t, we have the technology to find those answers in an instant by searching the internet for whatever may be baffling or confusing to us.

Just the other night a friend and I were struggling to remember the name for an Italian dessert. Both of our mothers (did I mention we are both Italian?) had made this as we were growing up, and she and I had actually made it together several years ago. But could we recall the name? No way!

Our friends at the dinner table waited for us to remember, but it didn’t happen. That’s when I caught myself saying, “I’ll just google it tomorrow and let you know.”

And I did! I googled it and then shared it with them in a private Facebook message!

But because of the huge advancements in technology over the past few years, many people today believe that the Old Testament is irrelevant in this modern world. However, the Old Testament is filled with verses which talk about a Savior or foretell His coming. Here are only a few:

  • “You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas.” —Psalm 65:5
  • “It will become a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them.” —Isaiah 19:20
  • “Yet I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; and you were not to know any god except Me, for there is no savior besides Me.” —Hosea 13:4

 Read the longing in these and many other verses. They yearned for the Savior of the world to come soon and exhibited great faith that it would happen. They obviously loved God without restraint and absolutely believed that God would send a Savior, someone who would rescue them from themselves and their sins and provide a way for them to live with and worship God forever.

So many people say they believe in God but when it comes to eternal issues, they are floundering in a huge sea of doubt and frustration. It is understandably difficult to believe in a being we cannot see. On top of that uncertainty, we are asked to trust that believing in Jesus Christ as our Savior is the only way to heaven.

Wow. That. Is. Huge.

I love what J. Vernon McGee has to say about this: “You may think you have your way of salvation, but God is the only Savior, and He is the only one who can offer you a plan of salvation.”

Absolutely! God’s plan for our salvation was always in the works but truly began with the birth of Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus was born a human man and lived an earthly life so that He could experience and relate to every single thing we humans go through.

The birth of Jesus Christ paved the way for His death on the cross, where He took our sins upon Himself and died on our behalf. That death paved the way for Him to be resurrected from the dead on the third day, proving that death and sin have no more eternal hold on us. All this to show how much God loves us and longs for us to live in heaven with Him forever.

But this is where faith and trust come into the picture. We must believe that our only chance for eternal redemption comes from Jesus Christ and has nothing to do with ourselves or what we do or don’t do:

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life;

no one comes to the Father but through Me.” 

John 14:6

Sadly, though, too many of us seem unable to take that giant leap of faith and trust:

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” —John 1:10-13

Beloved, Christmas is definitely a time of celebration. If you take away all the glitter, packages, decorations, baked goodies and music, we still have the greatest thing for which to be thankful. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the one God sent to free us from the bondage of sin.

So if all you have to celebrate Christmas is that certain knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ, then you have it all and more!

Let’s try to remember that Christmas is more about the Reason and less about the Season.

A very Merry and Blessed Christmas to all of you!

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” —John 1:14-16

 “… for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” —Luke 2:11

“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” —Acts 5:30-31

 

Emmanuel!

Merry Christmas!

From our house to yours,

a very merry and blessed Christmas!


Blessings & Love from Rick & Anna!



Diet Soda Cake

FRUGAL FRIDAY

Today’s Frugal Friday offering is probably the easiest recipe I have ever used to make the most delicious and moist cake ever. My daughter told me about it a few years back and I admit I was skeptical. But you absolutely need to make this to see what I mean by moist.

It takes two—yes, only two—ingredients. And without anything more said, here it is!

DIET SODA CAKE

1 package of cake mix, any flavor

1 12-ounce can of diet soda, any flavor

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together the dry cake mix with the can of diet soda. You can use a mixer but I simply use a wire whisk.
  3. Pour batter into a 9″ x 13″ pan.
  4. Bake at 350° according to the cake mix package directions.
  5. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Frosting options:

  • If serving right after it is completely cooled, frost entire cake with whipped topping.
  • Frost each individual slice with a large dollop of whipped topping.
  • Dust the entire cake with confectioners’ sugar.
  • Frost this cake with canned frosting or homemade frosting of your choice.

Notes:

  1. Do NOT include the eggs, oil and water indicated on the cake mix box. Only add the diet soda to the dry mix. Period.
  2. There are so many flavor combinations you can make. When I make a light cake such as white, yellow or spice, I add a can of Diet Sprite or Diet 7-Up. I’ve made a chocolate-cherry version of this by adding a can of Diet Cherry Coke to chocolate cake
  3. This cake freezes very well. Since I make it sometimes just for Rick and me, I’ll serve it for dessert the same night I’ve made it. Then the next morning I cut the remainder into slices and place the individual slices into plastic storage containers with tightly sealing lids. Whenever the mood strikes, I pull out two slices just before dinner and place them on individual dessert plates to thaw while we’re eating our dinner. I reseal the storage container and it goes back into the freezer for next time

For a clean printable copy, click here.

Enjoy!

Thank You challenge

Would you believe that I haven’t always been the most thankful person? Oh, I did thank people out of politeness every so often. But God worked on my heart for many years before I realized the need to express thanks more often.

When I first met Rick, he took me to dinner and I thanked him for that afterwards. The next day we had lunch together and I thanked him for that too. I recall him being very surprised and pleased that I would thank him for such simple gestures and that spoke to my heart as I realized I needed to do this more often.

Thus began my “campaign” to thank Rick for the smallest things, from his carrying out the trash to his offer to help with the dishes—even though I always turn him down :-) This in turn seemed to lead him to thank me for so many little things.

The point is that truly thanking someone for something they did or provided really makes that person feel as if what they did counts for something. Not only that, being thankful breeds more thankfulness and results in a mutually loving attitude that colors your whole relationship. And your life!

So, here’s the challenge: make the effort to thank those around you regularly and wholeheartedly for even the smallest, most seemingly insignificant things. It may take time, but you’ll see a difference in the people in your life because a thankful attitude rubs off on others. And blessing other people this way ultimately blesses you!

Take my word for this. It really works!

We love…

Today is another Wonderful Wednesday and I can’t help thinking that Christmas is right around the corner. This led me to reflect on the great love God has for us. I mean, think of it: He sent His Son to live as a human man who experienced everything we do so that He can truly understand us and our fears and anxieties.

This is amazing if you really stop and ponder it:

  • Jesus the baby, crying when He was hungry
  • Jesus the young boy, playing with simple, handmade wooden toys
  • Jesus the teenager, helping with his family to help Mary and Joseph
  • Jesus the  young man, working to help support the family
  • Jesus the grown man, preaching and teaching how to be saved
and finally,
  • Jesus the Savior, who performed the most selfless act in history when He died for our sins and rose again on the third day—all because of His great love for us.

“We love because

he first loved us.” 

—1 John 4:19

Our Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas 2011!

A Child is BornJesus:   Santa.
Santa:   Yes?
Jesus:   I’m sad.
Santa:   Why are you sad? It’s Christmas, right? It’s your birthday!
Jesus:   Yeah. That’s the point.
Santa:   Why?
Jesus:   Because whenever it’s Christmas the kids only wait for you and not me! They only celebrate Christmas because of you! Why Santa, why not Jesus?
 

We cannot believe how quickly 2011 has come and almost gone. It started out on shaky ground but we know how faithful the Lord is, so as usual we have many causes for thankfulness and joy:

  • We just celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary and are so thankful that as we have continued to look to God first in our marriage relationship, He has filled each of us with more love for each other every day.
  • Rick is still enjoying his Harley trike although the weather lately is less than good for riding. He jokingly refers to himself as a “fair weather rider” but loves riding when the weather is great. What’s not to like about that?
  • In January we had to put down our beloved Sheltie, Bleu Boy. It took us several months before we stopped “hearing” him around here. We still miss him a lot!
  • Because of a quirky side effect from a medication Anna took last year she developed diabetes for several months. But once that medication was completely out of her system, the diabetes went away!
  • Anna’s children, Kathy and Alan, are doing well and still living in the Phoenix area so we get to see them often. In one of the most exciting and blessed moments of Anna’s year, she had the privilege of witnessing Alan get baptized and then almost immediately leave on a medical mission trip to Albania.
  • Our local family of close friends continues to bless us. What would we do without these friends who are always there for us and will come help at a moment’s notice?
  • Rick’s leukemia update: he is doing very well as his white blood cell count continues to stay low. We’re very thankful for that and that one of us has an illness that has so far not impacted our lives.
  • Anna still enjoys crocheting. Her ongoing projects include lapghans for local rehab centers and caps for U.S. service personnel who are air evac’d in chilly helicopters after sustaining injuries. The caps help keep their heads warm.
  • And last, but certainly not least, we both thank God for His daily provision and blessings:

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, 

for his compassions never fail. 

They are new every morning; 

great is your faithfulness. 

I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;

 therefore I will wait for him.”

–Lamentations 3:22-24

Much love and blessings from Rick & Anna

 
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