Thursday, August 30, 2012

From This Evening's Reading

An interesting passage; especially in light of today's "progressive" church and "progressive" politics --

"We all want progress.  But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be.  And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer.  If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road;  and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.  We have all seen this when doing arithmetic.  When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start over again, the faster I shall get on.  There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake.  And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistake.  We are on the wrong road.  And if that is so, we must go back.  Going back is the quickest way on."  
                                           -C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Three Women

I have a dear friend who is fighting cancer, but truly is at peace as she trusts in the Lord.  The peace of God radiates from her and her countenance shines with a grace that can only come from Him.

Another dear lady, who was a huge part of my life years ago, is about ready to leave this world to meet Jesus within the next day or two.  This is a woman whom I cannot think about without hearing her laughter.  I know it's not possible, but if heaven could ever be a happier place, it will be when she enters those gates.

Yet another dear friend of mine, who has had 4 hours of sleep in the last two days, sits at this dying woman's bedside tonight.  She's been with her during the last two years of her battle with cancer.  She intends to be there and hold her hand until it is done.

Tonight, I contemplate the lives of these women - their influence on me, their encouragement to me,  - and I pray for them. I pray for continued peace, strength, and grace. 

I praise God for such lives that have entered mine.  I thank Him for the lessons they have taught me and continue to teach me. 

I pray I can be like they are like Christ.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

As I Read, I Ponder

We've begun our homeschool year - my first year with all seven children in school.  So far, it's proved to be a good year, but we are only 5 days into it!

My 3 oldest children have several books to read throughout the year.  It is my aim to read most of these along with them.  As I am reading the first two books, I am finding things to ponder.  This is one of the greatest joys of reading.

The first thought comes from a biography of William Carey - the Father of Modern Missions.  The following exchange occurred between William and the members of his missions society immediately after he surrendered himself to go to India to reach the people for Christ:
         "Yes. Go!  There is a gold mine of souls to be dug for in India," stated one of the members.
           Carey's reply:  "I will go down the mine if you will all hold the ropes for me."

A mine is a scary place to go.  One needs to be strongly supported or he will die.  If one lets go of the ropes, the burden is increased among the others and they may not endure.  If they let go of the ropes, the man will fall and, most likely, die.

Am I holding the ropes for those who've left their loved ones and homes to reach strangers across the world for Christ?  Am I praying?  Am I giving?  Am I telling the neighbors they've left behind about the God we serve?  Am I caring for their parents who are longing to see their children & grand-babies?  Am I encouraging their siblings who miss the one with whom they shared childhood secrets?  Am I, indeed, holding the ropes?

The other book I am reading is C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity.  Wow.  That's a tough one to wrap your brain around.  I find myself reading several sentences two or three times.  This author has a grasp on the English language that is unmatched...and I am struggling to match it!  However, once I understand what he's saying, his thoughts are profound.  One of my favorites this evening is this:

" is perfectly true that safety and happiness can only come from individuals, classes, and nations being honest and fair and kind to each other.  It is one of the most important truths in the world."

Safety and happiness only comes from honesty, fairness, and kindness.  In a word, unselfishness.  Think about it.  When our children are squabbling and unhappy, it is because they feel lied to, cheated, or someone has just been unkind.  Wives begin to question their safety when their husbands are dishonest and mean.  These principles are manifested in the home as well as in international relations.  I am challenging my children to be honest, fair, and kind on a regular basis.  Why?  Because it's the only way they can be truly happy and feel truly safe.

I love to read.  Sometimes, I love to read just so I don't have to think.  But, often, I love things that make me really meditate.  I'm praying my children are pondering these things, as well, and that good books will help mold their lives for the honor of God. 

So, go hold the ropes for a missionary and be honest, fair, and kind to those around you.  And read a good book.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Eggplant Parmigiana

Don't let the title scare you away!!  I used to think I hated eggplant...and I think I still do.  But, when you hide it in this parmigiana recipe, it is absolutely delicious.  I say "hide" because after frying in oil, adding a ton of sauce and a full 16 oz bag of cheese, it's hard to believe anything healthy is actually in there!

Some of you may not even know what an eggplant looks like.  I'm pretty sure I was married before I knew what it was.  It wasn't until the last week that I knew it came in white.  Color selections!

First, you need to peel 2 or 3 of these - the best way is just cut off the ends and run a knife down the sides.  Cut up into thin slices.

Next, put a tablespoon of oil in a pot & sauté some chopped onion and 2 cloves of garlic.  Add 3 cans of diced tomatoes (or cut up some garden fresh ones, like I did) and add them to the pot along with some sugar, oregano, basil, and salt.  Simmer for half and hour.  Don't worry, you'll be keeping busy during that time.

While the sauce is cooking, you'll be frying...the eggplant.  Beat 2 eggs with 2 Tbsp of water.  On a dinner plate, dump a bunch of breadcrumbs - seasoned or unseasoned, it doesn't matter.

Dip your eggplant slices into the egg & let excess drip off.  Put into breadcrumbs to coat one side, then turn over and coat the other.  While you're doing this, you should be heating some oil in a large skillet.  Add the slices to the hot oil, let sizzle for a minute or two (I always keep it on high to cut down on time), then turn and fry the other side.  I add oil, as needed, to keep things nice and brown.

Place fried slices on bottom of a greased 13x9 pan.  Top with half the sauce, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layers.

I won't lie, the frying process takes some time.  Your sauce will be ready when you need to pour it...don't worry if it hasn't been 30 min., as long as it's hot.

You could use canned spaghetti sauce, but I really don't think it would be near as good.  Plus, aren't chunks of tomato much prettier?  I will admit, because of our large family, I do 3 layers of eggplant and I only make enough sauce for two.  Therefore, I top the final layer with half a jar of sauce.  It really is quite good that way.

Top the whole thing with cheese.  If you haven't added a whole 16 oz bag of it, you haven't put on enough.  Put in the oven at 350-degrees and wait about 25 min.  Just thinking about eating it makes me smile!

Take it out, let it sit for about 5 minutes, then slice into squares.  My family of 9 goes through the whole pan in one sitting, so I'd say it serves about 10-12 people.  Not necessarily pretty, but pretty delicious!

In Summary:
olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
3 16-oz cans tomatoes
3 tsp. sugar
1 tsp oregano leaves
1 tsp basil leaves
1 tsp salt
1 Cup dried bread crumbs
2 eggs
2 Tbsp water
2 eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch slices
Parmesan cheese
Mozzarella cheese

In skillet or pot, in 2 Tbsp hot oil, cook garlic and onion until tender, then add next 5 inggredients.  Reduce heat & cook for 30 min.  
Place bread crumbs on dish or waxed paper.  In small bowl, beat eggs and water.  Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in breadcrumbs.
Grease 13x9 baking dish.  In large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp (or so) of oil.  Cook a few eggplant slices at a time until golden brown.  Add more oil as needed.
Preheat oven to 350.  Arrange half the eggplant slices in baking dish.  Cover with 1/2 the tomato mixture.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and top with mozzarella.  Repeat layers two more times, only top with half a jar of sauce the final time (if you run out of tomato mixture).  Finish w/ Parm cheese and the rest of the mozzarella.  
Place in oven (uncovered) and bake for 25 minutes.  Let sit for 5 minutes, cut, and enjoy!

You may find a printable version of this recipe here.

Now, go!  Enjoy some eggplant!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Friends, Old and New

This week has been a busy one.  Four of our children have been attending VBS each morning at my brother's church, while I have been preparing for our upcoming 50th anniversary celebration for my in-laws.  We also squeezed in a birthday celebration for sweet Gloria.

Sadly, I just realized I completely erased all the photos from Gloria's 7th birthday.  Truly a sad moment for me, as I have all of my children's birthdays recorded photographically.  *sigh*

On Monday, a dear friend came for dinner.  It has been 8 months since we've seen her and this week, we got to meet her sweet new baby girl.

We were sad that hubby/daddy couldn't come up this time, but we had a wonderful visit with Mommy & baby...who are both beautiful!  It's hard when friends move away, but our visits together become even more treasured.

I was pretty happy with this little dessert I found on Pinterest.  Easiest cheesecake recipe I've ever tried!

Today, we had my in-laws and my husband's nieces over for dinner.  One niece has been here all summer, while the other arrived late last night.  It was so good to meet her.  Both are so sweet and we will be so sad when they leave this coming week.

However, tonight we welcomed another "member" of the family.  Our daughter Cassia has dreamed of having a horse she can ride for a few years.  Our old (and I mean that literally) horse, Joy, is sweet as can be, but REFUSES to be  ridden.

So, while Cassia has had fun grooming her and leading her, it's been her desire to be able to just ride.  So, after a few months of searching, her new friend arrived.

Rosebud (aka Rosie) is a Morgan horse with a blood-line to be envied, apparently.  She's smart as can be and just as gentle.  Joy wasn't sure what to think of her, at first, but we are sure they will be great companions very soon.

Cassia is in love with her new horse and a more truly-grateful child, I do not know.  We don't make a great habit of giving such large gifts, etc., but she has earned Rosebud in so many ways.

 "All horses deserve, at least once in their life, to be loved by a little girl."