Friday, January 21, 2011

God Knows Our Needs Before We Know Them Ourselves

The office is the hub of our home.
It's where the magic happens.
Filled with lots & lots {& lots} of books, it's where James studies, prepares sermons & plans our family worship lessons.
It is where he pays the bills & balances the books.
He must've know he'd be spending a fair amount of time in this room because he had a distinct plan for how he wanted it decorated ... very manly with rich colors & fabric.
It's warm & inviting ... & once settled in, you can easily stay a while.

I work in the office usually one day each week.
I do school-related business, anywhere from filing & organizing materials, to typing tests or printing supplementary online resources.
I visit my online coupon sites & do any necessary printing.

Today as I was sitting at the desk, which is one of my favorite pieces in our home
{it's a family heirloom made by James' great-great grandfather}, I was thinking about what a blessing this home office is to our family!
When we bought this house several years ago, an office was not on the list of 'must haves'.
At that time, our children were in a Christian school ... we had not yet begun our homeschool journey.
James was serving in a different capacity, in both ministry & career.
Yet God knew that we'd eventually need this office.

I begin to think how amazing it is that God knows our needs before we even know we have a need!
He knows them from the beginning ... but in our eyes, we can look back at God's faithfulness  & see how He worked days, months, sometimes even years in advance on our behalf in supplying these needs!

We know to pray such as this:

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.       Matthew 7:7-8

Many times I have petitioned the Father exactly that way.
I have asked {which translates to BEGGED & PLEADED}.
I have knocked {again, translated to POUNDED, ... relentlessly}.
And what an increase in my faith when I see answers to these prayers!

But then there are other times when this scripture applies just perfectly:

...for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. 
Matthew 6:8

That's exactly what this office is!
We didn't necessarily need an office, therefore, we hadn't asked for one!
But, God knew.

I am reminded again of his faithfulness & providential hand.
I know that right now, at this very moment, on things I don't even know about, God is working for me!

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

This is 1 of 2 antique cherry lyre back chairs we found at an antique store.  Since these pictures were taken, we've changed the carpet & added some new decor.  I also haven't taken a picture of our desk.  So, I'll get to snappin' & add the updated pictures soon! 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter

In my last blog post, I shared with you how to bake whole pumpkins in the oven.
{Wasn't that pretty neat?!}

So, for my 1st use with my fresh pureed pumpkin,
I made pumpkin butter in my crock pot!

I've never made pumpkin butter before.
Actually, we've not eaten it too much either.
James & I both grew up eating apple butter & we both love pumpkin, so we knew pumpkin butter would probably be something we'd enjoy.
In the fall of '09 while we were vacationing in Tennessee, we bought our 1st jar
& boy, was it was delicious!
We also brought back a jar for my mom & dad, & my brother.
They all loved it so much they wanted me to look up the shop so they could order some more!

Needless to say, I was pretty excited to try this recipe!

I researched many variations of this recipe on the internet until I found one I liked.
{Actually, this recipe is a combo of a couple.}

Place the following ingredients into a cold crock pot:

10 c. pureed pumpkin
4 c. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
juice of 1 lemon

Turn crock pot on low & cook all day {or all night}.
It will darken in color & become thicker as it cooks.

After completely cooled, spoon pumpkin butter in sterilized pint {or half-pint} jars.

**Pumpkin butter cannot be stored on the shelf,
even if the jars have been sealed in a water bath. 
It must be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks or stored in the freezer.

This is really delicious ... kinda like pumpkin pie right outta the jar ;)
We especially like it on hot biscuits.

I think I'll be taking a couple jars to my mom, dad & brother ...
to see what they think about it!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pumpkins in the Oven

OK...So I am uber excited about this new discovery!!

Back in September, I began going through my recipe books, pulling out all my recipes that called for pumpkin.
Ya know, it's fall & pumpkin seems to be the ingredient of choice.
I baked the usual suspects ... pumpkin roll {my husband's favorite}, pumpkin pie {my husband's other favorite}, iced pumpkin cookies {I shared that recipe on this blog - look it up}, pumpkin bread & pumpkin bars.
I received an email from someone asking for my pumpkin bar recipe, so I shared it.
She was surprised to see Miracle Whip as one of the ingredients, so I decided to google pumpkin bar recipes to see what the usual ingredients were.
And it was on that search that I discovered that ... pumpkins can be baked in the oven ... WHOLE!

I decided then & there that the pumpkins gracing my porch as fall decor would be in my oven come December ... January.
So, I brought the pumpkins into the garage & there they stayed until last week.

After bringing them in the house, I wiped them off w/a damp towel
& popped them in the oven ... & it worked!!!!
You have sooo got to try this!

Here's the process:
Pop the small-medium pumpkins in the oven on 400 degrees for 1 hour.
{If they are larger like mine were, bake an extra half hour.}

After cool enough to touch, remove skin .... it just peels right away!

Slice pumpkin in half, remove seeds, chop into manageable pieces & puree in your blender/processor.
Remove any 'stringy' pieces that not have processed thoroughly.

Can't get any easier than that!
Store in the freezer in bags or plastic containers until ready for use.

This makes me incredibly happy!
I always felt wasteful throwing away my pumpkins!
Back when I was newly married, I tried to make a pumpkin pie from scratch ... using a 'pie' pumpkin.
After peeling, cubing, & cooking, I discovered it tasted awful & I threw it out!
More than likely, I just had a bad pumpkin, but it was enough to cause me to stick w/ canned pumpkin from then on.
Well, canned pumpkin no more!
'They' say the difference between canned & fresh is incredible ... can't wait to find out!

Stay tuned for PUMPKIN BUTTER ... made from these very pumpkins!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Getting the most out of a 20 lb. HAM

OK, so I bought this reallly big, smoked ham!
It's a 20 pounder & it was on sale, half price {orig. $38 ... I paid $19}.
I wanted to share how many meals we got out of this one ham!

I love the concept 'cook once, eat twice,' & I do that as often as I can.
This week, however, it was more like cook once, eat 5 or 6 times!

On Sunday, I baked the ham.
Along with it, we had from-scratch scalloped potatoes, deviled eggs, green beans,
bread & butter, & brownies.
That was lunch.

By suppertime, it was time for round 2.
Everything was reheated ... & it tasted even better the second time!

James carved up all the remaining ham & we portioned it out for the upcoming meals for the week.
He separated the bone at the joint, putting half of it in the freezer, along with 2 quart bags full of chopped ham.
{This will make a yummy pot of ham & beans later}.

On Monday, we had delicious ham sandwiches for lunch.

On Tuesday evening, we had a big pot of ham & beans ...
along with cornbread, fried potatoes & wilted lettuce salad.
By simmering it with the ham bone, it had lots of extra flavor.

On Wednesday night, I finished off the ham by making a big pot of Corn Chowder with Potatoes & Ham.
I made a cheeseball & baked some sweet cornbread to serve with it.

And, to top it off, there was left-overs of the ham & beans
AND the corn chowder which we enjoyed for lunches the following days.

And that is how you stretch a buck ... & get the most out of a 20 lb ham!

Here's my recipe for
Corn Chowder with Potatoes & Ham

1 med. onion, chopped
6-8 med. potatoes, peeled & diced
1 carrot, peeled & diced
2 cups ham, cubed
2 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. garlic, chopped
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can chicken broth
4 c. milk
salt & pepper

In large kettle, saute onion in 2 Tbsp. of butter over med. heat.
When onions are softened, add in potatoes & carrots, tossing to coat.
Sprinkle in salt & pepper {to taste}.
Saute for 5-8 minutes, just for potatoes to begin to brown a bit.
Add garlic, ham, corn & chicken broth.
Simmer for approx. 20 minutes.
Pour in milk & reduce heat to low for an addtl 20 minutes or until ready to serve.

Garnish w/shredded cheese & diced green onions.
Serve w/cornbread, crackers, or croutons.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Key to Contentment


I woke up on New Year's morning thinking about my life.
I began to think of the past year ... things that 'worked' & things that didn't ...
goals that were reached & those that fell short ...
happinesses & disappointments.

But, most of all, I kept thinking of my Christian walk.
As I began to survey the past year, an overwhelming feeling of gratefulness came over me.

I have seen my prayers answered time & again.
It's been a quiet inner-working within my spirit.
As I have submitted to God, I have reaped the promises found throughout the scriptures.

I have searched to find myself in His Word.
I have prayed earnestly for my will to become His ...
for my desires to become what He desires for me.

And I have found this to be the key to true peace & contentment.

It's not in things, possessions, places or relationships.
It's not in a job, a status, or a bank account ...
for all those things are unstable ...
momentary pleasures, at best.
It's in knowing that no matter what ups & downs may come in life {& they are sure to come}, it is He who keeps me sure & steady.

I begin to feel so compelled to share my testimony!
God has brought about such a change in my life in the past 5+ years!

I've asked Him to show me HIS ways.
I've examined every part of my life in light of HIS Word.
And He has been faithful.
I'm ever reminded of the scripture, "Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, & HIS righteousness, & all these things shall be added unto you." {Matt. 6:33}.

And He is ever reminding me that I am not the potter.
I am the clay.
It's through my submission to Him that He's able to make me a vessel of honor.

What a loving Father is He!