A memorable Christmas tradition in our family is to bring goodies to the homes of hurting people on Christmas Eve. Notice I didn’t say our favorite Christmas tradition but a memorable one. The kids didn’t actually like this tradition when they were little. Just this week I got a call from one of our grown daughters, Hannah and she said even though it wasn’t one of her favorite traditions as a child, it is as an adult. She wants to carry the tradition on in her family. Throughout the year we would make a mental note of those who had lost loved ones, endured cancer, lost their jobs or husbands. Then on Christmas Eve we would deliver goodies to their homes and pray for them.
I’ll never forget one year in particular. We went into the home of a family who had lost their only teenage son. We didn’t call before we came. it was a surprise visit. The dad was drunk and he wasn’t a drinker. The mom was crying. The kids were sitting by the Christmas tree with no gifts. Sadness consumed the house. We gathered them into a circle, held hands and prayed. They didn’t want us to leave, we brought not just food- but the joy of the Lord. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Bringing good tidings of great joy to the poor and brokenhearted; Jesus came to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and open prison to those who are bound…To comfort all who mourn, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. We are His ambassadors carrying His anointing to the lost and hurting ones, He loves. Let’s be His hands and feet and bring joy where there is none.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes to make for your goodie deliveries.
Prepare your goodie containers. Save oatmeal, cocoa and coffee canisters throughout year. Wrap cans with paper you’ve saved and have fun decorating with supplies on hand. The point is to spend the least amount of money and make it look better than anything you could buy.
Soft Baked Oreo Cookies-GF
1 box of chocolate cake mix (we used a gluten free mix, any cake mix works)
1/3 cup water (depending on how many ounces the mix -you may need as much as ¾ cup)
3 tablespoons shortening or butter, softened
Mix all ingredients. It will be a little dry. If you can’t form it into a ball, you need more water. Add extra slowly. Dust the counter with a little cocoa powder, roll out dough and use cookie cutter to form circles. If your dough is too sticky, form into silver dollar size patties by hand and flatten.
Bake on greased baking sheet for 6 minutes on 325 degrees.
3 ½ cups powdered sugar (organic)
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup shortening or butter
3 tablespoons hot water
Mix well. After cookies have cooled squish a heaping wallop of frosting between two cookies! YUM
6 thick sliced organic oranges (non-organic orange peel shouldn’t be eaten, chemicals are heavy)
4 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ cups water
Wash oranges. Quarter and peel the skin and pith off. Slice peel into thin strips. Put orange peel into a pot of cold water, bring to boil over high heat. Pour water off and repeat 1-2 more times. This helps take bitterness away. Remove orange peels from water.
Empty pot and now add your sugar and 1 ½ cups of water. Simmer for 10 minutes, bringing the temperature up slowly to 234. Add the peels and simmer for 40 minutes. DON’T stir, it can make sugar crystals in your syrup. Drain the peels and roll in a little sugar if you desire. Let sit for several hours.
I actually used fermented oranges on one batch- OH MY GOODNESS—it was better than anything I’ve ever eaten. The oranges were soft inside and the outside was hardened candy. It was like eating heaven.
Maple Walnut Fudge
2 cups organic brown sugar (all sugar not organic is genetically modified)
5 ounces whole milk (I used raw goat milk for my lactose sensitive family)
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups organic powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (don’t use artificial, it cheats you of perfection)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Butter a 9×9 inch square pan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat sugar, milk, butter and maple syrup. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
Take off heat and stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. Pour into mixing bowl and beat on medium until thick—about 3 minutes. Fold in nuts and pour into greased pan.
Let cool overnight. Slice into 1-inch squares.
Pecan Toffee- GF Not hard but a soft crunch- YUM
½ cup chopped toasted pecans
1 cup butter (don’t use margarine)
1 cup organic sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup or maple syrup (if you can’t find organic corn syrup use maple syrup)
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup crushed toasted pecans
Line a 9 X 13ish baking pan with foil and grease. Sprinkle ½ cup chopped nuts into bottom of pan evenly. In pot add butter, sugar and corn syrup or maple syrup. Cook over medium high heat to boiling.
Clip a candy thermometer onto side of pot. Cook and stir over medium heat. Stop stirring after sugar melts. Cook until candy thermometer reaches 290 degree. Watch carefully, it can burn after 280. If it starts to turn too dark after 280 turn off heat. Pour mixture evenly over chopped nuts in greased pan.
Let stand for a few minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over top. Let melt on top for a couple of minutes. Spread chocolate over whole mixture. Sprinkle crushed nuts on top. Cool, when firm lift out of pan and break into pieces. Store in tightly covered container.
Banana Bread Muffins- GF
1 ¾ cups self-rising flour (I use GF Pamela’s Baking Mix or dairy free Cherry
1 cup mashed bananas
½ cup milk ( you can substitute with yogurt)
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup butter
1 cup organic sugar
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
If you use non-self-rising flour you’ll need 2 tsp baking powder, ¾ tsp baking soda and ¾ tsp salt
Mix all ingredients. Pour into muffin pan or loaf pan. Bake 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
½ cup sugar
½ finely chopping nuts
4 tablespoons melted butter
Mix sugar and nuts together in a bowl. Melted butter in another small bowl.
Dip cooled muffin top into melted butter, then dip into sugar and nut mixture.
Flourless Decadent Brownie- GF
24 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (dairy free if you’re lactose intolerant)
1 ½ sticks butter
5 beaten eggs
½ cup organic sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
1 cup pecans
Mix all ingredients and pour into 9X9 pan. Bake on 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until done.
Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
No Bake Oatmeal Cookies
½ cup butter
2 cups organic sugar
½ cup milk (lactose sensitive people most often can tolerate goat milk)
1/8 tsp salt
3 cups quick cooking oats
½ cup crunch peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
Mix butter, sugar, milk and salt in pot. Stir and bring to rolling boil. Boil for one minute. Stir in oatmeal, peanut butter and vanilla.
Drop by tablespoons onto wax paper or aluminum foil. Work quickly it will start to harden!
Homemade Marshmallows dipped in chocolate are GREAT to giveaway.
Blondie’s frosted in Christmas colors
Caramel Pecan Pie Cake muffins
One of the greatest men I’ve ever known is Dale’s step-father, Bob Mateer. A couple of weeks ago he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he’s in surgery to remove it right now. Would you pray with us? It’s a six-12 hour surgery, it’s pretty invasive. They’re taking out 60% of his pancreas. We’re praying for full recovery from cancer and no side issues because of it!
We love him more than words can describe. He’s priceless. He’s the epitome of the grand and noble family patriarch that you read about in books.
You’ve just got to hear a short story about his conversion to Christ.
He had a high finance position at Chase Manhattan Bank in New York City- then left for an even better position in LA, CA. He had all the money he and his family needed and more—they lacked nothing of material worth.
One day Bob had lunch with a Campus Crusade man at a country club, that man introduced him to Christ. The man asked if he could pray for the food and then asked the whole country club if they would join him! The country club was not accepting of the prayer but Bob was. He was immediately enamored by Jesus. He wanted to know more and more of Him. Quickly he accepted Christ as his personal Savior and Bob’s life was never the same.
Everything in the tangible world lost its importance to him. Money didn’t have a hold on him, Jesus did. He wanted to dedicate his life to further the kingdom of God. He decided to leave his high finance job, the only life he knew and luxurious lifestyle to impart wisdom to the body of Christ.
He left California and moved his family to Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA to become a professor of high finance. He came for a fraction of the money he was accustomed to. But he was doing the will of His Father- and he was happy.
Bob is one of the most self-sacrificing people I’ve ever known. He has spiritual wisdom that surpasses us all by far. He is the definition of a servant. I glean something from him every time I’m with him.
Thank you for praying for him today and in the coming days. The surgery is expected to take 6-12 hours. His recovery is intense.
James 5: 13-15
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. ..Is anyone among you sick? …let them pray over him…and the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.”
When I was a little girl I had this recurring dream, that I was on a huge battlefield amongst thousands of dying and wounded people. I would wake up in the morning feeling like I had worked all night bringing life and healing to those who were perishing.
This dream became my thoughts in the daytime. I would stare out the window and recall my dream from the night before- it consumed me. I knew God was calling me. I would be a nurse and go into the mission field to bring life.
Well, chemistry class proved that I wasn’t called to go into the medical profession. I passed that class by the skin of my teeth, literally. This confused me, because I knew you had to be good in science to be a nurse. I continued to dream about bringing life and healing to thousands on the battlefield in my sleep. My passion and calling actually intensified.
As most of you know, I’m a speaker and writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. Last week they announced our “Join Us on the Front Lines” campaign. When I read those words I recalled the dream that I had dreamt hundreds and hundreds of times in years past– Endless numbers of people sprawled out on an open field waiting for urgent care.
I’ve had the privilege of writing devotions for P31 that go out to nearly a half million people a day. This past fall I traveled almost every weekend as an ambassador carrying the gospel to the sick and dying.
Halleluiah- I don’t need chemistry to be on the battlefield! We’re bringing life and healing to those who are perishing every day! I’m on the front lines administering care with Proverbs 31 Ministries under the leadership of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
I’ve seen more people receive Christ as their personal Savior this year than ever before!
I’ve received hundreds and hundreds of emails from families saying their marriages have been restored, broken lives mended, crushed spirits made whole, parents given hope and more because of our devotions, books, speaking, radio, Bible studies and more! Oh my goodness I wish you could see all of what God is doing in the field.
We’re on the front lines of the battlefield ministering to millions of women around the world. I want you to be a part of it! Pray for us, the battlefield is vast and it cost money to go into all the world and preach the gospel—bringing life and healing to those who are perishing.
The dream I dreamt when I was a little girl has come true. I’m overcome by the awesome opportunity to minister to millions with Proverbs 31 ministries. Will you join us on the front lines? Have you had dreams of helping those whom you’ve never met? Would you like to help support P31?
Cooking a perfect turkey is simple if you follow all the steps below. Every step from thawing, brining, long slow roast to letting it rest is critical for perfection! The turkey will fall off the bones when you take it out of the oven! We had to prop the legs up for the photo because it fell apart.
1. What size turkey should you buy: How many people are you feeding? The general rule is one pound per person. This gives enough for leftovers.
2. How to thaw a turkey– Keep in the original packaging. The guidelines for refrigerator thawing are as follows;
DON’T thaw on the counter, in water or in the microwave- you don’t want food poisoning.
3. If you want the turkey succulent follow my directions on how to Brine a Turkey. Brining a turkey makes a huge taste difference and tenderizes it. Take the turkey out of the original packaging for the last day and a half of thawing time and put into the brine. The brine actually helps to thaw it.
4. Rinse brine off turkey, pat dry and put into your roasting pan. Add three peeled carrots and 2 medium quartered onions to the bottom of the pan for added flavor. Cover well with aluminum foil. Tuck the foil around rim tightly, this locks in moisture. Do all of this the night before your turkey meal. When I go to bed I set my oven for 325 degrees so that it will be ready when I get up in middle of the night (3:AM).
5. Turkey baking time: Take upper racks out of oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
6. At 7:AM I turned the temperature down to 300 degrees. Take foil off turkey when you get up and baste with butter. Put foil back on and every hour after take off and baste with more with butter. Make sure you have a meat thermometer, insert it into the thigh not touching bone. When the internal temperature of the turkey is 165 degrees take foil off and turn the temperature up to brown the skin. This only took 15 min’s- I turned it up to 450 for speed. Don’t go do something else, keep your eye on the bird. You’ve spent too much time on it to dry it out! After it is beautifully brown turn the oven temperature down to 250 degrees and let it rest in the oven to reabsorb any moisture it lost by puncturing it with the thermometer. 30 min’s to 1 hour before serving turn heat completely off. Continue basting turkey for moisture.
7. The turkey will fall apart. You won’t get beautiful photo’s because it’s falling apart.
8. To make gravy -pour turkey drippings into a skillet and turn up heat. Whisk flour of your choice in and add water as needed. If you brined the turkey you WONT need salt. It is perfectly salted already. Enjoy!!
Innumerable blessings have been bestowed upon the United States of America. Concerning these blessings President Lincoln wrote: “No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.” President Lincoln went on to set apart the last Thursday of November as “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
While President Lincoln established America’s official Thanksgiving holiday in 1863, it was the Pilgrims who first celebrated a day of Thanksgiving in this land in 1621 and who set an example that many followed in the succeeding years.
As the Pilgrims gathered their harvest in the autumn of 1621 and looked back over the preceding year, they had so much for which to be thankful that they decided to set aside a day of Thanksgiving unto God, Whom they acknowledged as the Giver of all blessings and the only reason for their survival. It was indeed a miracle that they did survive their first year in the wilderness of New England and had a good harvest. Desire for a home where they could freely worship God, and the desire to “propagate… the Gospel of the kingdom of Christ” and be stepping stones for others to do the same, motivated a band of Christians later called Pilgrims) to set out on a hazardous voyage to plant a colony in the new world of America.
After sixty-six perilous days at sea, where the storms were so great that they were blown unknowingly hundreds of miles north of their intended destination, they reached Cape Cod. The captain attempted to sail south to Virginia, but the weather forced them to settle in New England. They later learned that the site they chose for a settlement – Plymouth – had been the home of the Patuxet Indians. Had they arrived a few years earlier, there would have been no place for them to settle, but a plague had mysteriously wiped out the Patuxet tribe in 1617, and no other tribe would settle in the area for fear of the same thing occurring to them.
Winter had already set in as they started to build houses to protect themselves from the unrelenting cold. Scurvy and other diseases began to infect the settlers due to the long voyage, lack of provisions, and unaccommodating conditions People began to die so rapidly that in two or three months’ time only half of the original 102 persons remained. While this was quite a tragedy, they still fared much better than the early settlers at Jamestown, who saw nine out of ten persons die in the first years of colonization.
During this dark winter in America, the Christian character of the Pilgrims shone brightly. At the time of greatest distress, there were only six or seven persons strong enough to move about. With the sick they “spared no pains night nor day, but with abundance of toil and hazard of their health, fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed them meat, made their beds, washed their loathsome clothes clothed and unclothed them; in a word, did all the homely and necessary offices for them which dainty and queasy stomachs cannot endure to hear named; and all this willingly and cheerfully, without any grudging in the least,
showing herein their true love unto their friends and brethren. A rare example and worthy to be remembered.”
Though half of their number survived, the prospects of the coming year looked very bleak – they were surrounded by Indians, some hostile, they were short of food and supplies, and they knew little of how to survive in the American wilderness. But to their astonishment, and gratitude to God, an English-speaking Indian named Squanto came among them, took them under his care, and taught them how to survive in the new land.
He showed them how to plant corn, assuring its growth by setting it with fish; he taught them how to catch fish and the times when they could find the creeks stocked with fish (for the Pilgrims had only caught one cod in the preceding four months); he taught them to stalk deer, plant pumpkins, find berries, and catch beaver, whose pelts proved to be their economic deliverance.
Squanto was also helpful in securing a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and surrounding Indian tribes, which lasted over fifty years. In the words of William Bradford, “Squanto… was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation.”
His life story is amazing in itself.
In 1605, Squanto, a member of the Patuxet Indian tribe, was captured by an English explorer and taken to England. He remained there nine years, during which time he learned to speak English. In 1614, Captain John Smith took him back to New England, but shortly after this he was again taken captive and sold into slavery at a port in Spain. Providentially, some local friars bought and rescued him.
From Spain, he eventually went to England where he remained until 1619, when he obtained passage back to his home in New England. As Squanto went ashore at what was to become Plymouth, he found his entire tribe had been killed by a plague. He was the only survivor of the Patuxet tribe. Joining himself to a nearby tribe, he remained there until the spring of 1621 when he joined himself with the Pilgrims, determining to see them survive at the place where his tribe had not.
Thanks to God, his instrument Squanto, and the character and determination of the Pilgrims, half of them had survived an unimaginably difficult first year. Moreover, they harvested a sufficient food supply for their second winter at Plymouth. Even though there was no surplus food, things looked much better than the preceding winter.
Governor Bradford appointed a day of Thanksgiving and invited the nearby Wampanoag Indians (Squanto’s adopted tribe) to celebrate and give thanks unto God with them. Chief Massasoit and ninety of his men came and feasted with the Pilgrims. They ate deer, turkey, fish, lobster, eels, vegetables, corn bread, herbs, berries, pies, and the Indians even taught the Pilgrims how to make popcorn. The Pilgrims and Indians also competed in running, wrestling, and shooting games. Massasoit enjoyed himself so much that he and his men stayed for three days.
It is easy to see where the American tradition of feasting at Thanksgiving began.
While many people today follow the Pilgrim’s example of feasting at Thanksgiving, they too often ignore the entire reason that the Pilgrims set aside a special day – that was to give thanks to Almighty God and acknowledge their utter dependence upon Him for their existence. While many today take ease in having plenty, never seeing a need to cry out to God, the Pilgrims relied upon God in their lack and thanked Him in their abundance. Their trust was in God and not in their abundant provisions. This was seen even more fully in the two years following their first Thanksgiving.
Shortly after their Thanksgiving celebration, thirty-five new persons unexpectedly arrived who planned to remain and live at Plymouth. These being family and friends brought much rejoicing, but when they found out they had no provisions it also brought a soberness. Yet their reliance was upon God, so they gladly shared their food, clothing, and homes. With the new additions, their food, even at half allowance for each person, would last six months at most.
Their provisions had almost completely run out when they spied a boat in May of 1622. They hoped the English Company who had sponsored their colonizing Plymouth had sent provisions; however, this boat not only did not bring any food (nor the hope of any), but seven more hungry people to stay in Plymouth. In their extreme hunger, as in times of plenty, they put their complete trust in God to provide.
No one starved to death yet, it would be over a year before famine was completely removed from their midst. During that time there were many days where they “had need to pray that God would give them their daily bread above all people in the world.”
That spring and summer of 1622 God miraculously fed them, even as the ravens fed Elijah in the wilderness. He provided because the Pilgrims had determined to walk in the way of their Lord Jesus. This was most evident in early summer when sixty “lusty” men (as Bradford called them) came to them for help. Even though these men showed no gratitude, the Pilgrims still gladly took care of them, for many were sick. They gave them housing and shared their meager provisions. This they did for almost the entire summer until the men left.
Like the year before, the harvest of 1622 proved insufficient to meet the Pilgrims’ needs. Outside help appeared doubtful, so the Pilgrims considered how they could produce a larger harvest. Through God’s wisdom they chose to replace the collective farming they had practiced the two preceding years (being imposed upon them by their sponsoring company) with individual farming, assigning to every family a parcel of land.
Bradford wrote: “This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than other wise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use… and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn, which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and.”
As they were freed from economic communism and entered into individual
enterprise, abundance began to come upon these people.
The Pilgrims learned the hard way that communism doesn’t work, even among a covenant community. Bradford wrote that “the experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Platos
& other ancients, applauded by some of later times; – that the taking away of property, and bringing in community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.”9
The Pilgrims’ hard work, resulting from them being able to directly benefit from the fruit of their labors, caused them to plant about six times more crops than the previous year. While labor certainly increases our prosperity, there are other factors. God wanted the Pilgrims to never forget that it is the Lord that gives men the power to get substance or wealth (Deut. 8:18).
The Pilgrims had great hopes for a large crop, yet as Bradford wrote, “the Lord seemed to blast, & take away the same, and to threaten further
& more sore famine unto them, by a great drought which continued from the 3. week in May, till about the middle of July, without any rain and with great heat (for the most part) insomuch as the corn began to wither away.”
In response to this, “they set a part a solemn day of humiliation to seek the Lord by humble
& fervent prayer, in this great distress. And he was pleased to give them a gracious & speedy answer, both to their own & the Indians admiration, that lived amongst them. For all the morning, and greatest part of the day, it was dear weather & very hot, and not a cloud or any sign of rain to be seen, yet toward evening it began to overcast, and shortly after to rain, with such sweet and gentle showers, as gave them cause of rejoicing, & blessing God. It came, without either wind, or thunder, or any violence, and by degrees in that abundance, as that the earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith. Which did so apparently revive & quicken the decayed corn & other fruits, as was wonderful to see, and made the Indians astonished to behold.”11
An Indian named Hobamak who witnessed this event said to a Pilgrim: “Now I see that the Englishman’s God is a good God, for he hath heard you, and sent you rain, and that without storms and tempests and thunder, which usually we have with our rain, which breaks down our corn, but yours stands whole and good still; surely your God is a good God.”
The harvest of 1623 brought plenty to each person, with the more industrious having excess to sell to others. From the time they started a biblical economic system, no famine or general want ever again existed among them.
That autumn of 1623, the Pilgrims again set apart a day of Thanksgiving unto God. They had much to give thanks for and knew Who to acknowledge.
Each year when we celebrate Thanksgiving, let us remember the heritage of that day and why the Pilgrims, as well as President Lincoln set aside a day of Thanksgiving. In the
words of Lincoln, proclaiming the second National Thanksgiving Day: this is “a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe.”
by Stephen McDowell