Dandelion

Dandelion

faith floats
on the wings of
a dandelion seed
pointed tip full
of promises
tufted top
an arched parachute
which, trusting
catches the wind
and sends prayers
spinning, dancing
over field and valley
stream and meadow
tiny lifeline, whisper-thin
connects sail and seed
bearing tendered hopes
and new beginnings
eager to take root

I was inspired to write about the dandelion seed by an interview with LL Barkat that Maureen posted on her blog. I love the notion of hope and new beginnings floating on the wind, and also the thought that a tiny dandelion seed can so quickly create a field of nodding, happy yellow. Yes, I know most people are not thrilled with dandelions. But my kids have brought me so many handfulls, carefully picked and arranged in little jelly-jar vases…I just can’t see something so happy and yellow as a bad thing.

This post is part of a Beginnings writing project started by LL Barkat, check out her blog for details and head over to High Calling Blogs for more poetry!

And a very happy, blessed New Year to all of you.

Solomon at the Manger

Prayed this morning for Scripture to speak to my heart, opened the Book at random and found it.

On Christmas morning….

2Chronicles 6:12 tells of Solomon’s dedication of the temple he had built for God. How does this relate to Christmas? I think of Jesus, how he compared his body to the temple…which would be torn down and built again in three days. Thought of the curtain in front of the Holy of Holies, which one day some thirty years from Christmas morning would be torn in two to let all men commune directly with God.

I thought of Solomon, dressed in all his glory, the most wise and famous king…could see him in his royal splendor, purple-robed and flashing with gold and the glitter of jewels. The temple, white and almost luminous, set new and towering before him. The crafted work of the best artisans, the bronze bath shouldered atop gleaming bulls, the pillars with woven nets and bobbing pomegranates nodding high in the sweeping vault above. The gold and splendor of the best, the richest the world had ever devised.

Now take him, this wise and splendid king. Take him in his finery and beauty, and in place of the cold white stone put the slick dark walls of a lowly stable. See him kneel not on the smooth bronze platform but in the gritty hay, scattered over rough-earth floors. See in place of the stately bronze bulls the cattle sleeping softly, put in place of burning incense the smell of offal, in place of trumpets hear the bleat of an ewe, the sigh of a baby. See Solomon’s crown fade in the light of a new star, his hands clasped in wonder over what this rough manger holds. And then Solomon’s prayer of dedication does, indeed, take its place in the Christmas story, it speaks anew. A king’s dedication to the King whose flesh, like temple’s stone, held the very being of God.

2 Chronicles 6:12

Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands. Now he had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high, and had placed it in the center of the outer court. He stood on the platform and then knelt down before the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven. He said:
“O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today.
“O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today.

“Now LORD, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons are careful in all they do to walk before me according to my law, as you have done.’ And now, O LORD, God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David come true.

“But will God really dwell on earth with men? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence. May your eyes be open toward this temple day and night, this place of which you said you would put your Name there. May you hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. Hear the supplications of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place; and when you hear, forgive.

Traditions…gluten free, dairy free Scotch shortbreads

Traditions are such a wonderful part of being a family! So many holiday traditions center around food, those of us with food allergies or intolerances tend to remember them more during the Holidays. What doesn’t bother you during the rest of the year can make you feel deprived when you have to forgo the Christmas cookies at your office party or the traditional pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Some things are easy to make gluten free (that pumpkin pie, for example!). Others may prove to be a real challenge. While it would be better to remember to count my blessings around this time of year (less cookies, pastries and sugary baked goods means less possibility of gaining holiday weight, right?), I admit to sometimes succumbing to a little nostalgic longing where Christmas comfort food is concerned.

But! Substitutions can be made! Our family has had a long-standing tradition of making shortbreads for Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving, Hubby’s family has always made Scotch and Irish shortbreads. The tradition involves making many dozen of each kind, carefully packing them into containers, and then hiding them so they can cure during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Further tradition involves at least one disaster during that time, where a dog finds and devours all the cookies or (more commonly) your loving Husband finds the stash and has just one cookie…several times a day…until you find you need to make another batch a few weeks after hiding the first.

Christmas morning always finds family sitting around the Christmas tree, shortbreads and a cup of coffee in hand. In fact, I discovered that gluten was wreaking havoc on my body due to eating Christmas shortbreads! They have been very difficult to make gluten and dairy free, since they are made entirely of butter and finely sifted flour.

But! This year, the shortbreads are back! Here is a recipe developed by a dear friend who also has Celiac disease and dairy intolerance. These are pretty darn close to the ‘real thing’, not too hard to make, and satisfy the family tradition quiet well. I know it’s too late to let them cure, but I wanted to share this recipe now so you can try it and then tuck it away for next year.  And, if you don’t need the gluten and dairy free part, go ahead and make them with regular flour and regular butter.  They are wonderful!

Gluten and Dairy Free Scotch Shortbreads

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter substitute (I use Nucoa, which is a completely dairy-free margarine. You could also use Spectrum butter substitute, which is soy-free as well)
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 1/3 cups gluten free flour mix (I used 1 part rice flour, 1 part tapioca flour and 1 tsp. xanthan gum per cup of flour)

Directions

  1. Sift dry ingredients over softened butter substitue. Cut in butter until completely incorporated.
  2. Knead dough on floured surface until soft, about 2 minutes. Form dough into 2 balls and cover with plastic wrap. Chill one hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  4. Knead dough to soften a bit then roll 1/4 inch thick and cut with a cookie cutter (I use an inverted drinking glass). Bake for 5 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet.

We use a cookie press to stamp crosses on ours before baking. You can also melt some dairy free chocolate chips (and soy free if you need to…Enjoy Life makes them) with a little allergy-safe butter and then dip half of each shortbread into the chocolate…it makes a great “black-and-white” cookie!

Enjoy!

Poetry Friday…Listen

Listen

The world screams
into life’s subway-clatter
of turnstiles groaning
cell phones ringing
voices droning
it screams with all
the audio-visual clutter
it has to offer
glossy ads bearing
impossible dreams of
contrived bodies
adorned with gleaming
carats of debt
the world flashes its
wares on screens of
unnatural blue light
garish colors clamoring
to be first noticed
shimmering mountains of
plastic and cheaply gilded fetishes
vie for attention like
spoiled toddlers in the supermarket

Heaven calls
softly
with the whispered sigh
of a mother’s love
a caress in the darkness
of peaceful nursery
it calls quietly
come quickly here,
here to the stable lit
with the muted light
of a bright new star
here, to touch
the silken cheek
and wonder at
these bright new eyes
here to kneel
on golden straw
and worship
that which speaks softly
and makes the heavens shake


In the midst of all this snow and cold, in the middle of all the Christmas parties and decorations and preparations, I have been thinking a lot about the desert.

If you’ve known me long, you probably already know I have a deep interest in the desert…the wanderings of Israel through forty years of heat, the purifying of hearts and the faith lessons that come only from a desert experience. But I was wondering what prompted my mind’s return to the desert at this time of year…and I realized what it was after reading Billy Coffey’s post over at High Calling Blogs.

I’ve been thinking about the laws, the rules that Israel received while living in the desert. So many laws! Over six-hundred rules and regulations governing everything from worship to where they were to pitch their tents. Why so many laws? What was God thinking?

Part of the answer lies in where they came from. Slavery! For so many years, God’s people knew nothing but slavery. And being enslaved leaves you with scars, leaves you with deficits that make it difficult to live as free people. In short, it takes awhile to get over living in slavery. It takes re-training, and it takes a lot of direction. To live free! It sounds so simple, but in so many ways it is much more difficult than to remain a slave.

The Israelites needed those six-hundred laws. They needed structure. Their years in slavery had knocked the leadership out of them, had left them without the ability to recognize and raise up people to lead and form a society, to live on their own as a free people. How do you build a nation, when you’ve known nothing but repression and neglect? They needed a framework on which to build their freedom, some tools and structure to begin their new life as a free nation.

Above all, they needed to know who their ultimate Authority was, and to build trust in Him to care for and lead them flawlessly.

And so, the desert laws were written…and followed, and in the years to come added to.

And so many years later, when the laws of Moses’ day that had helped to lead them out of slavery had become slave masters in themselves…then God sent His people a new Savior!

In many ways, advent is like the years in the desert. Waiting for the Promise to come, anticipating a complete release from slavery and deliverance into freedom. Waiting for Christ, for God Himself to come and free us! And in that tiny baby, that little child…the deliverance of all the nations from the bondage of sin, from the slavery of law, from the despair of death. A slave follows rules out of fear and obligation…a free man follows rules out of Love. All this desert wandering…the advent of history…the voice crying out in the desert….all were moving toward a Love that frees like nothing else.

Heat….Poetry Friday

The desert of Snow Canyon, near St. George Utah (taken in October 2009)

Heat

This is your
forty years
in the
desert
this dusty path
is the
Sinai
of your wandering
this sand
between your toes
is the sand
that wears down
callouses of slavery
this dry sun
is the
heat
that burns off
fear and indecision
this strange bread
is the
manna
that feeds your soul
that builds your strength
that sets your resolve
as you
stumble
into the
promised land

One of the most beautiful trees I’ve seen…also in Snow Canyon

It’s been awhile since I joined in the group at High Calling Blogs for poetry on Friday….Today they’re talking about snow, and here I am thinking about desert’s heat! Also check out LL Barkat’s blog for weekly poetry prompts…she has a beautiful photo of frosty trees there that makes me appreciate the snow and cold all over again!

Gratitude Journal, Puppy Edition

2 Samuel 22:47 The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior!

Gratitude Journal, how I’ve missed you! So many blessings to be thankful for….

The Puppy Edition!

239. The wonder of birth…

240. That God made dogs so amazing!

241. Tiny little pink noses

242. All nine, so soft and silky

243. First puppy kisses

244. How fast they grow!

245. A good mother dog

246. Three-quarters of a dozen tiny, happy puppy tails

247. Playful puppy moments

248. Learning new things daily

249. Meeting and getting to know nine new puppy owners

250. Practicing loving, care-giving, and letting go.

More Making Christmas…Felt Food and Craft Links


Another favorite last year was the felt food project. There is a world of wonderful crafts and sewing projects to be found at YouCanMakeThis.com. These felt cookies and cinnamon buns were make from a pattern we found there. They also have a great pattern for a three layered cake and brownies complete with frosting, decorations, and pans. Other felt projects include some fun felt doll houses, a Noah’s Ark and animals, and various other play food items. If you’d rather crochet, they also have a variety of patterns for crocheted animals and other toys.

The felt food was simple to make and the supplies were very inexpensive. They don’t require much sewing skill, but they do require some patience (and I don’t recommend finishing this project at 2:00 a.m. Christmas morning!) The cookies are simple shapes with the frosting sewn on top. The beads took awhile to sew on, so plan ahead for that. The sweet rolls are tubes made with tan and brown felt, stuffed and rolled into buns. Their frosting is a drizzle of white fabric paint, and the pans are made with gray felt lined with stiff interfacing. The set also comes with a darling hot-pad, spatula, and container of sprinkles (not shown here). I thought about this too late, but if you wanted you could even add some cinnamon or vanilla scent to the stuffing in these faux treats and make them even more fun to play with!

Here are some links for you for felt toys:

Sweet Rolls and Cookies
Doll House with Furniture
Brownies and Cake Set
Noah’s Ark Animal Set
Noah’s Ark (the boat)

Kids love to make gifts! You will be amazed at how making a gift and carefully keeping it a secret until Christmas morning will give a child a true appreciation of the joy of giving. Here are a few ideas…

A fun book of soft toys to sew, knit or crochet. These projects are wacky and fun, and the sewing projects can be made by hand with felt (easy for kids to work with). This book can be found new or used on Amazon, just follow this link!

Softies Only a Mother Could Love (image from Amazon)

What about a baking project? These cute little pies are made in a tiny canning jar, and make darling gifts for teachers, friends, and family. Have a baking day and let your kids create several types of tiny pie, then pop a lid on them and put them in the freezer. Before you give them away, put baking instructions on a pretty tag and a nice scrap of festive cloth over the ring-top….the lucky recipients can put the tiny tarts in the freezer to eat later, or bake them up right away for Christmas dinner! Find the recipe and some photos at the Not Martha blog, here is the link to the pie post. Don’t the little pies look tasty?

Mini pies-in-a-jar….MMMM! (Images from the Not Martha blog)