Tuesday, November 30, 2010

De-LIGHT-ful Night

We made it to Temple Square this year...something that we haven't made the time for in several years. Well,we weren't going to let that happen this year...we were there on the night they actually turned the lights on. Unfortunately the lights turned on as we were in the underground parking but it was still spectacular and beautiful! It was a great way to start off the Christmas season.

We warmed up our frozen toes, fingers, and noses with some hot chocolate. It was a fun evening together.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Decking the Halls

We have decked the halls with wreaths, trees, ornaments, garlands, lights, nativity scenes, and holy...fa la la la la, la la la BLAH! It takes so much time to decorate. I don't know if I have accumulated too many decorations or too many kids...but it sure took a lot longer this year.

The stockings have been hung by Kaylee and I with care,
In hopes that little toddler hands won't destroy what is there.
The boxes have been carried in, unloaded, and put away.
The decorations are in their proper places to stay.
But I know that it won't last. That's too good to be true.
The nativity scene will soon be missing a wise man and Mary too.
The bottom of the tree will be void of any ornaments and light strands.
To keep them out of reach of Nathan and Izy's little hands.
It looks great for now. I will enjoy it while it lasts.
Because I know that Christmas will go by way too fast!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Remembering Christ

Christmas is the time to think of Christ, learn of Christ, and try to be more Christlike. One way that we try to focus on Christ during Christmas is I hang a piece of paper with this on an empty wall:
Holy One
Son of God
Then each night we read a story about Christ's life and hang a picture of that story on the wall. By Christmas, the wall is full of pictures of Christ to help us remember Him and to try to be more like Him.
Howard W. Hunter: "We must know Christ better than we know Him; we must remember Him more often than we remember Him; we must serve Him more valiantly than we serve Him...What manner of men and women aught we to be? Even as He is." (3 Nephi 27:27)

One of my favorite Primary songs is "I'm Trying To Be Like Jesus"
I'm trying to be like Jesus; I'm following in His ways.
I'm trying to love as he did in all that I do and say.
At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice,
But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers,
"Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught."

I'm trying to love my neighbor;
I'm learning to serve my friends.
I watch for the day of gladness when Jesus will come again.
I try to remember the lessons he taught.
Then the Holy Spirit enters into my thoughts, saying,
"Love one another as Jusus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
for these are the things Jesus taught."

I hope that we can all remember Christ this Christmas season!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christmas Jars

Christmas Jars by Jason Wright is an inspirational novel about the true spirit of Christmas...giving. It is about saving loose change throughout the year in a pickle, mason, peanut butter, or whatever jar you may have and then finding someone during Christmas to give it to. It is so neat the read about the contagious nature of the jars and how kindness is spread and eventually returned. It is a great book to read before Christmas!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Lion House Dinner Roles

Mmmmm...Thanksgiving was delicious. I am still full! My assignment was the rolls and these babies are the only rolls that I will make. They turn out great every time! Don't be intimidated...they are really easy to make.

Lion House Dinner Roles
By: Lion House
  • 2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
  • 2/3 cup powdered milk
  • 2 Tbsp yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 5 to 5 1/2 cups flour
In a large bowl, combine water and powdered milk; stir until milk dissolves. Add yeast, then sugar, salt, butter, egg, and 2 cups flour. Mix on low speed until ingredients are wet, then for 2 minutes at medium speed. Add 2 more cups of flour; mix on low speed until ingredients are wet, then for 2 minutes at medium speed. (Dough will be getting stiff and remaining flour may need to be mixed in by hand). Add about 1/2 cup flour at a time and mix again until dough is the right texture. Dough should be soft, not overly sticky, and not stiff (it is not necessary to use the entire amount of flour).

Scrape dough off sides of bowl and pour about one Tbsp of vegetable oil all around sides of bowl. Turn dough over in bowl so it is covered with oil. (This helps prevent dough from drying out). Cover with plastic and allow to rise in warm place until double in size, about 45 minutes.

Scrape dough out onto floured surface. Turn dough over so it is floured on both sides. With rolling pin, roll out to a rectangle about 18 inches long, 8 inches wide, and 1/4 inch thick. Brush with melted butter. With pizza cutter or very sharp knife, cut dough in half to make two strips about 4 inches wide. Make cuts through strips of dough every 2 inches, making about 18 pieces of dough. (I am usually able to get about 30 pieces.)

Starting with the short end, roll up one piece of dough, with butter on the inside.

Place roll on parchment-lined or sprayed pan with other short end down on the pan. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough. Be sure all rolls face the same direction on baking pan. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise until double in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, or until light to medium golden brown. Brush tops of rolls with melted butter.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Blessings Branch

Happy Thanksgiving!
To help my kids express their gratitude, we did a little family activity together. I put a branch through our light fixture in the kitchen. I gave each person five paper leaves with a string tied through them. We then wrote down something that we are thankful for on each of our leaves and hung the leaf on the branch. Our branch was full of all that we have been blessed with. Some of my favorites were lights, my bed, slides, and good friends. We are so blessed!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Open Your Eyes and Look Around You

This last week has been a real eye-opener to me. The threat of Aaron being really sick has made me realize that I have been taking things for granted...my children's smiles, laughter, eyes, stories, and endless questions. I need to cherish each day with them because I never know what may happen tomorrow. Life is so precious and beautiful...we just need to open our eyes and notice it!

I love this little clip about living in thanksgiving daily:

"Our minds have the marvelous capacity to notice the unusual. However, the opposite is true as well. The more often we see the things around us, even the beautiful and wonderful things, the more they become invisible to us. That's why we often take for granted the beauty of this world. Even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less. Those who live in thanksgiving daily, however, have a way of opening their eyes and seeing the wonders and the beauties of this world as they're seeing them for the first time. Look around you. Notice the people you care about. Notice the fragrance of the flowers and the song of the bird. When we open our eyes and give thanks for the bountiful beauty of this life we live in thanksgiving daily."
Have a GREAT Thanksgiving tomorrow as you notice all of the beautiful blessings that surround you!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


The waiting is over. We received the best Thanksgiving gift...answers for Aaron's health problems. After further tests yesterday we found out that Aaron has a swollen kidney due to a blockage in the tube from his kidney to his bladder (UPJ obstruction). We saw an amazing urologist who told us that this is a fairly simple problem to fix and it may even be the answer for his abdominal migraines...it was probably this making him sick all along. From here, he has a few more tests to determine the extent of the UPJ blockage and then we go from there...probably surgery. But at least we have answers and I am SO GRATEFUL for that!

  • I am SO GRATEFUL for good doctors
  • I am SO GRATEFUL for modern technology
  • I am SO GRATEFUL that Aaron is on his way to being healthy
  • I am SO GRATEFUL for Aaron's good attitude and courage
  • I am SO GRATEFUL for my hope and faith that keeps me going during times like this
  • I am SO GRATEFUL for my wonderful husband who stays calm and positive
  • I am SO GRATEFUL for friends and family who dropped everything to help
  • I am SO GRATEFUL for answers!

What a great Thanksgiving this will be...I am SO GRATEFUL!

Monday, November 22, 2010


Have you ever had one of those pivotal moments that you know may change your life? One of those moments that you can't wait to come because you are so anxious; yet you don't want it to come because of what you might hear. I am waiting for one of those moments.

Last week, I posted about Aaron's abdominal migraine episode...well it has turned into something much different. We waited and waited for his symptoms to subside but he wasn't getting any better. On the fifth day of him not eating and abdominal pain I had an awful conversation with Aaron that went something like this:
"Mom, you know how there are some sicknesses that make people die?" I tentatively replied "Yes." "Mom, what if this is one of those sicknesses....I don't want to die before Thanksgiving and Christmas." I held it together as best as I could while I told Aaron that we will do everything that we can to help him get better. We decided that we couldn't wait any longer.

Eric and I took Aaron to the ER that night where they gave Aaron IV fluids because he was so dehydrated and performed x-rays and blood tests. It was so hard to see Aaron in so much pain. They finally got the IV in after 3 tries. Then we waited for any news. The doctors told us that the x-ray showed that something, probably his spleen, is enlarged. He explained what that could mean...leukemia plus a lot of other things that I didn't hear because I was focused on leukemia. Then the waiting was endless with that possibility hanging in the back of my mind. Luckily the tests came back negative and his blood work was fine so they sent us home and told us to see our pediatrician on Monday....more waiting.

Over the weekend, Aaron started eating and acting more like himself so I was very hopeful today. But we found out that this "mass" has gotten bigger and we are now waiting to go back to the hospital for further tests where we will wait to hear what is wrong.

I am sick of waiting, but I am scared to hear what all of this waiting has been leading up to.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Live in Thanksgiving Daily

Alma 34:38....live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings 
which he doth bestow upon you.

Do I have an attitude of gratitude everyday? No. I need to take time everyday to stop and think about all that I have been blessed with! Today, on a snowy and cold day, I am grateful for the beauty of this earth.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie

I am gearing up to do some major eating on Thanksgiving...hopefully I won't get too carried away like the old lady in this story:

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson

This is such a funny story because of the words and illustrations. It starts off with the old lady who swallowed a pie, a Thanksgiving pie, which was too dry so she needs a lot of other food to go with it. As she swallows cider, squash, salad, rolls, the turkey, and the pot, she becomes bigger and bigger. She ruins Thanksgiving dinner, but makes Thanksgiving fun in another way in the surprising ending. 

This book makes me excited to gobble down some pie myself...pie is my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thousand-Mile Stew

Here is a hearty, warm, and delicious meal for a cold night. It's especially great for the meat and potato lovers like my hubby!

Thousand-Mile Stew

  • 1-2 lbs hamburger
  • 1 lb ground sausage
  • 4-6 potatoes cut in 1/2" slices
  • 3-5 carrots cut in 1/2" slices
  • 1/2-1 onion sliced or just separated into rings
  • 1-2 cups cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper
Make hamburger into round 3" patties. Brown patties in stew pan or Dutch oven. Line bottom of pan with patties. Salt and pepper hamburger. Layer potatoes, carrots, and onions. Salt and pepper each layer. Repeat hamburger layer and veggies layers. Top with browned sausage. Pour 1/2 cup water over all. Cover with lid and cook on stovetop until veggies are done - about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or cook in oven at 350 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Just before serving top with cheese to melt.

I put such a wide range on the measurements because it all depends on the size of pan that you cook it in.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Leaf Rubbing

Here is a nice and EASY craft for any age...my 21month old niece loved it.
Here's what you need:

  • leaves
  • fall colored crayons with the paper off
  • paper

Place the leaf under the paper, then using the length of the crayon, rub the crayon over the paper where the leaf is...and watch the leaf appear on the paper. My kids loved this! Make a collage of different shapes and colors of leaves for a neat and easy Fall art project.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blessing Mix

Here is a fun little snack to remind you of Thanksgiving. It would make a cute appetizer before Thanksgiving dinner with the Blessing Mix explanation on each plate.

Blessing Mix

Bugles: Shaped like a cornucopia or Horn of Plenty, a symbol of our nation's abundance.
Pretzels: Arms folded in prayer, a freedom sought by those who founded our country.
Candy Corn: The sacrifices of the Pilgrims' first winter. Food was so scarce that settlers survived on just a few kernels of corn a day.
Nuts or seeds: Promise of a future harvest, one we will reap only if seeds are planted and tended with diligence.
Dried fruit: Harvest gifts from our bountiful land.
M&M's: Memories of those who came before us to lead us into a blessed future.
Hershey's Kisses: The love of family and friends that sweetens our lives.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On and Off Guard

Yesterday Nathan stood guard. What was he protecting? His line of dinosaurs and animals spanning my doorway. Each time I would pass he would tell me to step over them so that I didn't knock any down. He worked so hard to keep all of the figurines standing...even the ones with broken or mangled legs. He was a great guard. If one of his animals were knocked down or misplaced he would carefully put it back in line.

The triumph came when I asked him to clean up and he immediately obeyed. I was preparing for a huge battle of wills...and how could I have competed with this little soldier already dressed for battle? I was pleasantly surprised when he gathered all of his army and put them away without a war, battle, or even a fight. My little guy on guard totally took me off guard! (I am sure that telling him that he could have lunch after he cleaned up had nothing to do with it...he is just an obedient little soldier...who happened to be hungry at the time.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Abdominal Migraine Madness

A few years ago we noticed that Aaron was regularly getting sick about every month...really sick...throwing up constantly, hunched over in pain, and very tired and lethargic for 2-3 days. He was diagnosed with abdominal migraines. It is basically a migraine in the stomach, causing pain, nausea, and the inability to keep any food down. It is awful. I hate it. Aaron hates it even more. He is in the middle of another episode today. I hate feeling so helpless when my son is in so much pain and discomfort.

I am trying to be thankful for even my "fleas" so...I am thankful that this condition usually only lasts until the age of 12. I am thankful that Aaron is taking some medication that lessons his attacks from monthly to every 2-3 months. I am thankful that Aaron is now an expert at throwing up...I give him the bucket and he rarely misses. I am thankful that Aaron is able to sleep through most of it...it really wipes him out. I am thankful to know that in a few days Aaron will be back to his energetic, busy, happy, and sometimes annoying self. But for now, we just have to get through another attack; more missed days of school; more worrying; another day of keeping little kids away from the throw-up bucket; and another day of watching Aaron suffer. Poor kid!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gratitude Ratio

Luke 17:12-19
And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers which stood afar off:
And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

 Are we like those 10 lepers? Do we think God for 1 out 10 blessings that he gives us? In our prayers, do we ask God for 9 blessings and only thank him for 1? Do we tell our family and friends thank you for only 1 out of 10 favors? I hope that my gratitude ratio is a little better than 1 out of 10!

In speaking of the story of the 10 lepers, President Howard W. Hunter also stressed our need to thank our Heavenly Father for all the blessings that He gives to us: "Of the ten men who were healed, only one returned to express appreciation. This must have been a disappointment to the Master, but there are many who receive blessings, many who are endowed with good things in life, yet never take the time or go to the effort to show gratitude to the benefactor or express appreciation to God. Happiness and joy from blessings are never complete until there is a deep feeling of gratitude within oneself which moves an expression of appreciation."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Giving Tree

This is the time to be thankful for all that we have been given. I am so richly blessed, and sometimes I take my simple blessing for granted. I read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein to my kids. It is the story of a tree and a boy. The tree loves the boy. And the boy loves what the tree has to give him...apples, branches to climb, shade, and wood. As the boy grows older, he continues to take from the tree until all that the tree has to give is its stump for the now old man to sit on.

I know that I am sometimes like the boy in this story...asking and taking without thanking and giving in return. I can also relate to the tree. As a mom, I feel like sometimes I have nothing left to give except a tired lap for my kids to rest on at the end of a long day. I am so thankful for those rare and coveted peaceful moments with my kids! Being a "stump" is great!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Creamy Black Bean Salsa Chicken

I love crock pot meals...I throw it all in my slow cooker when I have time in the morning or afternoon and then it's ready by dinner. My friend actually accomplished a goal of cooking in her slow cooker every day last year. Each day she posted her recipes on her blog and she even created a cook book with over 250 of her favorite recipes. Everything that I have tried has turned out great. You can check out her blog here. Her cookbook would make a great gift!

This is one of our favorites...thanks Karen!

Creamy Black Bean Salsa Chicken

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 pkg taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Place chicken in slow cooker. Pour broth, salsa, corn, beans, and taco seasoning over chicken. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Stir sour cream and cheese into the sauce in the slow cooker. You can also add 1 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbsp water to thicken the sauce. Put the shredded chicken back into the sauce. Serve with tortillas, rice, or tortilla chips. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fall Thank-You Cards

When I was young I remember gathering wild flowers with my mom, pressing them for several weeks between the biggest books we could find, and then making beautiful cards with the pressed flowers. I wanted to try that with my kids, only with the colorful fall leaves that cover the ground. After trying to remember how to make the cards, several phone calls to my mom, and quite a few mistakes we did it and the cards turned out great! It is so easy (when you know what you are doing), and Kaylee and Aaron loved to help. Nathan loved crumbling the leaves all over the floor...I should have waited for nap time for this project!

Here's what you need:

  • colorful leaves/flowers
  • paper towels
  • iron
  • wax paper
  • tissues (divided so that it is one-ply)
  • Elmer's glue diluted with water - 1 part glue to 1 part water
  • paper, ribbon, etc for the center of the card
I sent Kaylee and Aaron outside to find the best, most colorful leaves.

I didn't want to wait for weeks to press them so we put a paper towel on top and bottom and pressed them with the iron until they were flat and dry (about 2-3 minutes).

Next, cut the wax paper to the size that you want the card. Lay the leaf on the right half of the wax paper so that when the card is folded the leaf is on the front. Lay the divided tissue on top making sure that the tissue covers the wax paper. Using a paint brush, softly dab the diluted glue over the entire area and 1/2 inch border around the wax paper, being careful not to tear the tissue.

Cover with a towel and iron until dry...about 3 minutes.

Carefully tear off the extra tissue around the edge of the wax paper.
Fold the card in half, cut paper to fit the inside, punch two holes on the folded side of the card and tie a ribbon through the holes to secure the paper.

This is a great way to preserve those beautiful Fall colors.
This would be a festive way to give thanks to someone by making your own Fall Thank-You cards!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The World Is Mine

The World Is Mine

Today upon a bus, I saw a lovely maid with golden hair.
I envied her - she seemed so gay - and I wished I were as fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle.
She had one foot and wore a crutch, but as she passed, a smile.
Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two feet--the world is mine!

And then I stopped to buy some sweets.
The lad who sold them was so kind.
I talked with him - he said to me,
"It's nice to talk with folks like you.
You see," he said, "I'm blind."
Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
 I have two eyes--the world is mine!

Then walking down the street,
I saw a child with eyes of blue.
He stood and watched the others play.
It seemed he knew not what to do.
I stopped for a moment, then I said,
"Why don't you join the others, dear?"
He looked ahead without a word,
And then I knew he could not hear.
Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two ears--the world is mine!

With feet to take me where I'd go,
With eyes to see the sunset's glow,
With ears to hear what I would know,
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I'm blessed indeed! The world is mine!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Contagious Resolution

I have started my New Year's Resolution...yes I know it's November...yes I know I am being a hypocrite after yesterday's post about getting right into Christmas after Halloween, let alone New Years. But I want to start healthier habits before all of the holiday hoarding and sweet treats. I am determined not to gain weight during these next 2 months of rich and delicious foods, in fact, I want to loose weight so that I can start the new year off right!

I have noticed that this goal has been contagious. Aaron wants to be stronger so he has been waking up earlier to lift weights. Nathan exercises by my side and is an expert at squats and lunges. It is so cute to see Aaron lifting his 3 pound weights as he watches cartoons in the morning and Nathan perform a squat with perfect form. It is great motivation for me to keep going and I hope that this is planting the seed for my kids to develop healthy habits...now how does my husband catch this contagious bug?

Monday, November 8, 2010

It is NOT Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

Last week I turned on my car radio to hear "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas". What...Christmas music already??? And it is NOT beginning to look a lot like Christmas...everywhere I go I still see pumpkins, beautiful fall leaves still on the trees, and grass covered in leaves-- not snow. We still have Halloween candy and decorations in our house. When I look out my window, this is what I see (don't mind the wrinkly tablecloth) :

But then you go shopping...and yep...Christmas everywhere! Good luck finding any Thanksgiving items among all the Christmas decorations. Come on, let a mom catch her breath! I just got done assembling Halloween costumes. What happened to Thanksgiving? We go right into "I want" mode and forget about the "I'm thankful" part of November. Don't get me wrong...I LOVE Christmas, but I also like to pause and think about all that I am blessed with before jumping right into lights, trees, presents, wrapping paper, and especially Christmas music!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


1 Thessalonians 5:18 - In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

In one of my favorite books, The Hiding Place, two sisters are sent to a concentration camp for hiding and helping Jews. Upon arriving in Barracks #28 at Ravensbruck they found that it was filthy, rancid, soiled, gloomy, crowded, and infested with fleas. Corrie and Betsie remembered this scripture:
"That's it, Corrie! That's His answer. 'Give thanks in all circumstances!' That's what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!"
I stared at her, then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.
"Such as?" I said
"Such as being assigned here together."
I bet my lip. "Oh yes, Lord Jesus!"
"Such as what you're holding in your hands."
I looked down at the Bible. "Yes! Thank You, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank You for all the women, here in this room, who will meet You in these pages."
"Yes," said Betsie. "Thank You for the very crowding here. Since we're packed so close, that many more will hear!" She looked at me expectantly. "Corrie!" she prodded.
"Oh, all right. Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed, suffocating crowds."
"Thank You," Betsie went on serenely, "for the fleas and for___"
The fleas! This was too much. "Betsie, there's no way even God can make me grateful for a flea."
" 'Give thanks in all circumstances.' " she quoted. "It doesn't say, 'in pleasant circumstances.' Fleas are part of this place where God has put us."
And so we stood between piers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.
The fleas were indeed a gift. It was because of the fleas the guards never came inside the infested barracks. These two sisters found a rainbow within a terrible storm by being grateful for everything. 

I know that I need to be more grateful...not only for my blessings, but also for my trials!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thanksgiving Bouquet

I love this story...it is about being thankful for the thorns as well as the roses in life:

Thanksgiving Bouquet
Author Unknown

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes as she pushed against a November gust and the florist shop door.  Her life had been easy, like a Spring breeze. Then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole that from her. During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren't enough, her husband's company threatened to transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying that she would not come for the holiday. Then Sandra's friend infuriated her by suggesting that her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. She has no idea what I'm feeling, thought Sandra with a shudder. Thanksgiving? Thankful for what? She wondered. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life but took that of her child?

"Good afternoon, can I help you?" The shop clerk's approach startled her. "I..I need an arrangement," stammered Sandra. "For Thanksgiving? Do you want beautiful or ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the Thanksgiving Special?" asked the shop clerk. "I'm convinced that flowers tell stories," she continued. "Are you looking for something that conveys gratitude this Thanksgiving?" "Not exactly!" Sandra blurted out. "In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong." Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the shop clerk said, "I have the perfect arrangement for you." Just then the shop door's small bell rang, and the shop clerk said, "Hi Barbara...let me get you order." She politely excused herself and walked toward a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and long stemmed thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped; there were no flowers.

"Want this in a box?" asked the clerk. Sandra watched for the customer's response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers? She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed. "Yes please," Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. "You'd think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn't be so moved by it's significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again." She said as she gently taped her chest, as she left with her order.

"Uh," stammered Sandra, "that lady just left with uh...she just left with no flowers!" "Right" said the clerk, "I cut off the flowers. That's the Special. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet." "Oh come on, you can't tell me someone is willing to pay for that!" exclaimed Sandra. "Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling much like you feel today," exclaimed the clerk. She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she was facing major surgery. That same year I had lost my husband," continued the clerk, "and for the first time in my life, had spent the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family near by, and too great a debt to allow any travel."

"So what did you do?" asked Sandra. " I learned to be thankful for thorns," answered the clerk quietly. "I've always thanked God for the good things in my life and never questioned the good things that happened to me, but when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time for me to learn that dark times are important. I have always enjoyed the 'flowers' of life, but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God's comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we're afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others." Sandra sucked in her breath as she thought about the very thing her friend had tried to tell her. "I guess the truth is I don't want comfort. I've lost a baby and I'm angry with God."

Just then someone else walked in the shop. "Hey Phil!" shouted the clerk to the balding rotund man. "My wife sent me to get our usual Thanksgiving Special...12 thorny, long-stemmed stems!" laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator. "Those are for your wife?" asked Sandra incredulously. "Do you mind me asking why she wants something that looks like that?"

"No...I'm glad you asked," Phil replied. "Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years we were in a real mess, but with the Lord's grace and guidance, we slogged through problem after problem. He rescued our marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she learned from 'thorny' times, and that was good enough for me. I took some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific problem and give thanks for what that problem taught us." As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special."

"I don't know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life." Sandra said. "It's all too...fresh." "Well," the clerk replied carefully, "my experience has shown me that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God's providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don't resent the thorns."

Tears rolled down Sandra's cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment. "I'll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns please," she managed to choke out. "I hoped you could," said the clerk gently. "I'll have them ready in a minute." "Thank you, what do I owe you?" "Nothing. Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year's arrangement is always on me." The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. "I'll attack this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first."

It read: "My God, I have never thanked you for my thorns. I have thanked you a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant."

Praise Him for your roses, thank Him for your thorns!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Swiss Round Steak

This is not the most healthy meal...but it sure is good. My mom made this for us when I growing up for Sunday dinners. I tried making it for one of our Sunday dinners and it was really easy and really good!

Swiss Round Steak in Mushroom Gravy

  • 2 lb round steak
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 Tbsp shortening
  • 1 dry onion soup mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
Tenderize round steak by pounding it with a meat tenderizer or a knife on both sides. Coat in flour and brown in the shortening on both sides (I used canola oil for a healthier option). Put the meat in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Sprinkle onion soup mix over meat. Pour soup diluted with water over top. Cover with foil and bake for 2 hours at 350.