Much like your parents attic, treasured memories lay within. So, wipe the dust off my ruminations and remembrances, sit back and enjoy!

...and HE shall reign

Just a quick one...saw this tonight and just HAD to post it. I LOVE LOVE LOVE things like this! Enjoy...

NOTE: No innocent bystander, patron (or anyone else for that manner), was offended, mentally anguished or religiously oppressed by the clear Christian message that was sung in a public place, during the taping of this video...

~ V

Giving Thanks...

This is the second year that I took the day before as well as the day after Thanksgiving off from work. I always take the day before off to get a jump start on cooking and baking for the feast that would follow...it's not that Lisa can't do it, it's that I LOVE to do it! We had a houseful with our 8, my sister and her family (3) and Lisa's mom and step-father, it gets a little hectic (especially around serving time) with that many people moving in and through the kitchen, but I made it and only had one somewhat mild stressor! As I stated earlier, I love to cook and for me it's ALL about flavors and freshness. I planned a fairly typical menu (Turkey, mashed potato's and gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole (in Minnesota, they call it Hot Dish...I was born in Iowa and we call it casserole!), squash, rolls and of course...pies. Pretty straight up, but here's what I did to switch it up: With the Turkey, I made a garlic & herb butter which I softened, then used to coat the bird between the skin and the bird itself. This cooked the flavors right into the meat and was VERY good if I may say so myself! Next, I converted green bean casserole from a quick 5 min job into a slightly more labor intensive (30 min prep) one by making my own french-fried onion pieces the night before, cutting and blanching fresh green beans instead of canned and making my own mushroom sauce instead of using canned cream of mushroom soup. I had never done this before, so I was a little nervous with how people would like it...all I can say is WOW! This is one recipe that I will use on a permanent basis! Again, fresh ingredients provide AMAZING results! The other thing I did was stayed away from pumpkin pie mixes. Instead, I used 100% pumpkin puree, ground my own nutmeg and used cream instead of milk...OH and I made a hand-whipped brandied whip-cream and homemade caramel sauce for toppings.

My sister and her family stayed through the weekend and on Friday, we took them to Lark Toys. Where my sister bought a game called BeanBoozled...All I can say is PRAY you never...EVER get the Centipede flavored jelly bean! We had a great time with Donna, Dave and Rose, we laughed, played games, ate a lot of food and were truly blessed by their visit and the time we had together.

Today, after they went home, we started the transformation of our home into our little Christmas wonderland! I LOVE this time of year and I LOVE decorating for it. As we were putting up one of the trees and listening to Mannheim Steamroller over the stereo, I became a little nostalgic...My mom loved the Christmas season as well and all of the decorating, baking and celebrating that went with it and although she's been gone for 10 years now, those memories are as fresh as yesterday! I miss her...and I wish mom could have met Lisa...they would have loved each other and Lisa would have fit right in with the quirky family that we were back then.

We kind of have this little family tradition where we go around the table and tell each other something we are most thankful for from this past year. Sometimes they're silly, sometimes the older ones feel it's corny and don't really want to participate...but in the end they do. This year I'm thankful for a mother who loved her children until her heart broke...wasn't afraid to discipline her kids...who shed tears over their losses and smiled with pride in their triumphs and who was staunchly resolute in bringing her children up in the way of our Lord, Jesus Christ. She was much braver and stronger than I'll ever be...Thank you Mom.

~ V

~ Family ~

Genesis 27:6-13, 27-36, 37-41 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the LORD before I die.’ Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.” Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.” His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.”

So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said,

“Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed. May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness - an abundance of grain and new wine. May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.”

After Isaac finished blessing him, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, “My father, please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.” His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?” “I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn, Esau.” Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!” When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!” But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.” Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”

Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?” Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud. His father Isaac answered him, “Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above. You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. and when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.” Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”

So Jacob stole everything that was rightfully his older brother Esau's...his inheritance AND their father's blessing...and evdidently their mother's love as well as she played a terrible role in what transpired...talk about family division and tension! How would you react if something similar happened? I'd like to think that I'd just rise above it and go on...but I just don't know. Going further a few chapters, this is how it played out.
Genesis 32:3-5 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my lord Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’”
Jacob had to go to Edom and he knew his brother lived there. The last time he saw him, Esau wanted to kill him, so Jacob is a little more than nervous and uncertain of what to expect...so he offered up the following prayer.
Genesis 32:9-12 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, LORD, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”
And when they finally meet...after all this time...and all that's been said...
Genesis 33:1-4 Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants. He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother. But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.

Family...a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together. ~Erma Bombeck

...Thanksgiving is just a week away and Christmas is right around the corner from that. Families the world over will gather to laugh, reminisce of days long gone and sit down to break bread together. But that's not true for everyone...for many, this is an incredibly sad and stressful time of year. Family hurts, divisive attitudes and hardened hearts will turn what should be a bright and joyous time into one full of tension and dread...Why is it that we treat family with less grace and with more contempt than the clerk at Wal-Mart? We often take our families for granted, expect far more from them and give far less in return then any other relationship. Family is supposed to be there when you need them, and is supposed to have a strong hold on the ground you walk on. They stick with you through the toughest times and offer help and advice when needed. You know you don't want it to be the way it is...no one enjoys holding hurts and sore feelings and it doesn't make you feel better. Pride, selfishness, lack of communication and lack of understanding are relationship killers...they need to be stripped away and laid aside. You choose to be prideful...choose to be selfish...choose to seal yourself off. Make this year different...choose to change. 'But I've been hurt!'...yes, you probably have been. 'But he/she did......to me!'...I know, but why allow that to control you? Choose to change. 'But it's SO hard!'...yes it is, but I guarantee that if you take the first step and choose to change, you will be happier.

Listen...Families aren't perfect...none of us are, but in the end when the rubber meets the road, while friendships fade and disappear like smoke in the wind, family will always be family...Take a chance, Jacob did. It was scary at first for him...but BOY did it pay off in the end!

~ V