Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze

      A friend told us about the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. So of course, we had to go.  (The picture's were taken in 2013.)
     A few notes about the Blaze.  The Blaze is located at Van Courtland Manor in Croton on the Hudson.  It runs from the beginning of October through mid-November.  Tickets sell out weeks in advance.  Put it in your calendar for next year.
    The Blaze was really amazing. Imagine more than 5,000 individually hand-carved and illuminated jack o’lanterns elaborately displayed.  You could walk through the display for a week and still find something that you hadn’t noticed before.
A Jack O'Lantern Devotional
     We all start out like pumpkins.  Out in the pumpkin patch with all of the other pumpkins.  God walks in the garden and selects us out of the world.
     When we say yes to Him, God gently washes us.  Then He lovingly cleans us of the gooey gunk in our hearts.
Tunnel of Love
     God carefully removes the sinful seeds of doubt, pride, bitterness, hate, and guilt from within us.  He replaces them with the seeds of faith, hope, and love.
A huge pumpkin jack in the box.
      Then God carves a new smiling face.    2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”   Our countenance is forever changed by the power of His presence in our life.
      Like a candle set in our pumpkin head we glow with Jesus, the Son of Light. He shines through our life for all to see. His light shines through us to reveal His presence.

      Jesus said,
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a hill can not be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”
     Our little pumpkin hearts are never the same with Jesus inside of us.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Copper Sea Shells for Fall

     I hate to put our sea shells away at the end of summer.  In fact, there are some sea shells that I like to leave out year round.  They remind me of special times.  They remind me that even though there was frost in the Hudson Valley last night, eventually, I'll be warm again.  They also remind me that we plan on moving south next year!
     So, I painted my sea shells copper.  They look great!  Copper is showing up in accessories everywhere.  I love copper because it pairs so well with other metals, especially oil rubbed bronze.
     These are small sea shells that we picked up on the beach this summer.  I have them in a bowl in our guest bath.
     I used Rustoleum Hammered Copper spray paint that I had left over from my Vintage Typewriter Table up-cycle.  I just took the shells outside and gave them a quick spray.  On the larger shells, I decided to just paint the inside.  I rimmed them with Frog Tape so that the spray paint wouldn't get on the outside.  (Sorry I was so excited about how the other shells looked that I didn't take a picture of this, but it's easy enough.)
     The extra large shell at top was a planter that I have had for years.  The inside looked a little pitted, but the paint made it look like new.  Now it's a copper eye-catcher.  I use it in our bathroom to hold an extra roll of toilet paper and a hand towel.
     I love how the copper shells gleam in the bowl in contrast to the natural shells.
     Have you added any copper accessories to your house?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Aroma of Christ

     There are some scents that each of us immediately recognize.
          Bacon frying in a pan.
          Fresh cut grass.
          Newly sharpened pencils.
          Coffee in the morning.
    I want to share a few scriptures concerning fragrance.  The first is found in Genesis 8.  Noah finally stepped out of the ark after floating around with a bunch of animals for 377 days.  One of the first things Noah did was to build an altar and offer a sacrifice to express his gratitude and to worship the God who saved him and his family. Genesis 8:21 says that “The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma.”  But it wasn’t just the aroma of a burnt sacrifice that pleased God.  God smelled the pleasing fragrance of Noah’s heart of worship and thanksgiving.
    The second scripture is found in Mark 14 and John 12.  Jesus was in the house of Simon the leper.  Martha was serving dinner - again.  Mary’s tender heart drew her to Jesus.  She broke open an alabaster jar of perfume and anointed Jesus with it.  Mary lavished Jesus with the oil and the fragrance of spikenard filled the room.  Everyone immediately recognized the aroma of this very expensive oil.  Some guests complained at the extravagance and the waste.  The oil, they reasoned, could have been sold and the money used for other, better things.  The spikenard was worth a lot of money.
     The true cost of the oil though was known only to Jesus and to Mary.  To Jesus it was the oil that would anoint Him for the cross.  But what was it worth to Mary?  The spikenard might have been the perfume that was to be saved for her wedding. It was the best she had.  It was all that she had to give.  And so, Mary chose to pour it out on the head and feet of Jesus with generous worship and extravagant love, wiping His feet with her hair and her tears.  It was the scent of adoration.  A sinner pouring out her heart to Jesus as Lord and King.  A sinner with a heart so full of love that everyone around was able to smell the fragrance.
      What is a pleasing fragrance to God?
For we are to God the aroma of Christ to those who are being saved and those who are perishing.   ~ 2 Corinthians 2:15
   We are the fragrance when we help a 90 year old woman over a curb in a parking lot.  We are the fragrance when we minister to a friend.  We are the fragrance when we bring a meal to the hungry, when we send Christmas boxes, when we shovel snow and ice off of the church roof, and when we prepare a sermon or sing a song.  We are the fragrance when we wash the family dishes and socks.  When we serve our family and rake the lawn.  When we pour out the intimate details of our lives with heartfelt adoration at our Savior’s feet.
      There is an unmistakable fragrance that  fills a room when we offer worship through our actions.  When we pour out personal adoration.
     Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  ~Ephesians 5:1-2
    May the everyday actions of our lives be worship.  May we give Jesus all that we have, only you and Jesus will understand the cost.  May we fill our lives with the intimate fragrance of worship pleasing to God.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Matter of Faith

     A Matter of Faith is a movie coming to theaters this weekend.  It is the story of a young Christian woman in her freshman year of college who finds her faith challenged in many ways.  It is directed by Rich Cristiano and stars Jordan Trovillion, Jay Pickett and Harry Anderson.  A Matter of Faith is rated PG 13 for mild thematic elements.
     Interestingly, Christians and non-christians are talking about it and challenging the creationist viewpoint.  A Matter of Faith is a great opportunity for parents and children to engage in discussions about faith.  As you will see, evolutionism and creationism both require an element of faith.  The question becomes, in whom or what are you placing your faith.
     Our family is going to see A Matter of Faith on Saturday.  You can see the official A Matter of Faith website here to find a theater near you.  Will you be going?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Croque Monsieur

     Harney’s Tea Shop serves a delicious sandwich called Croque Monsieur.  It is magnifique!  Ham and gruyere cheese topped with a pat of dijon mustard, smeared with béchamel sauce and served on sourdough bread.   Pat and I enjoyed this on our recent trip to Millerton.
     Croque Monsieur originated in the cafe’s of Paris.  The word croque means “to crunch’ and monsieur means “Mr.”  The sandwich's first recorded appearance on a Parisian café menu was in 1910.  It can also be served with a poached egg on top.  Of course, then it is no longer Croque Monsieur, but rather Croque Madame.  The egg is said to resemble a turn of the century woman’s hat.
   I tried to re-create this fabulous and fancy ham and cheese sandwich at home.  It was a hit with four out of five of us.  The only hold out was Connor, who wants macaroni and cheese or pizza every night of the week.
     Serving suggestion:  Salad and your favorite cup of tea.  Pat enjoys Paris tea.  I prefer Tower of London.   Mais oui ma cherie.
     I suggest preheating the oven and setting the bread to toast while you are making the béchamel sauce.

Bechamel Sauce with Gruyere Cheese


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups warmed milk (I used 2% and it worked fine.)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup of grated Gruyere Cheese
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
pinch of nutmeg

 Melt the butter is a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour all at once.  Stir with a wooden spoon for about five minutes.
 Slowly pour the milk into the butter/flour mixture.  Whisk to stir until the mixture thickens and is smooth.  Remove from heat.
Off heat add salt and pepper, 1/2 cup of grated gruyere cheese and the nutmeg.  Set aside.

Croque Monsieur Sandwich

12 slices of bread (I couldn’t find sour dough, so I used an artisan bread
12 ounces of Gruyere cheese grated  1/2 cup will go in the sauce.
1/2 pound of Ham  (I used Black Forest Ham sliced thin.)
Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
To toast the bread place the slices on 2 baking sheets.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes until lightly toasted.
Brush half of the slices lightly with the mustard.  Add a few slices of ham.  Layer half of the remaining gruyere cheese.  Layer on a tablespoon of béchamel sauce.  Top with another piece of toasted bread.
Slather the tops with béchamel sauce.  Sprinkle with remaining Gruyere cheese and the Pecorino Romano Cheese.
Bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes.
Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 minutes or until the top is bubbly and lightly browned.
Serve hot.

     I had about 1/2 cup of béchamel sauce left over.  We used it on scrambled eggs and hash browns the next morning.  Yum.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Safe in the Storm

Unknown: See note below.
     About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came to them, walking on the water.  When the disciples saw him they screamed in terror, thinking He was a ghost.  But Jesus spoke to them at once.  “It’s all right,” He said, “I am here!  Don’t be afraid.”  Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you by walking on water,”
     “All right, come,” He said.  So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.  But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink.
     “Save me, Lord!” He shouted.  Instantly Jesus reached out his hand and grabbed him.  “You don’t have much faith, “Jesus said.  “Why did you doubt me?”  And when they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.  ~Matthew 14:25-32
     When most of the disciples first glimpsed Jesus walking to them on the water, they cried out in terror believing Him to be a ghost, a phantom, something frightening and insubstantial.  A ghost was not capable of dealing with a storm in the real world.  The waves were high. The boat was filling with water and their lives were in danger.  The disciples didn’t want a ghost, they wanted a savior.
     But then Peter boldly called out to Jesus to let him come to Him.  Peter climbed out of the boat onto the raging water.  Peter wanted to be where Jesus was, even if that meant stepping out of the comparative safety of the boat and into the violent storm.  Peter faltered when he saw the waves crashing, and felt the strength of the wind whipping through his hair and clothes.  Bedraggled and wet, Peter started to sink deep into the depths.  But his Saviors hand took a firm grasp on his. Stumbling and clinging, Peter was led back to the boat.  Peter held tight to Jesus. Jesus did not feel like a ghost.  Jesus felt like a rock.  Peter found safety in his Savior’s arms.
     We can falter in our walks, too.  When we focus on our circumstances and take our eyes off the Lord and His promises, we sink into hopelessness and fear.   Peter was clearly afraid, but he knew enough to cry out to Jesus, the only source of help.  Jesus reached out, grabbed hold of Peter’s hand, and walked with him back to the boat.  The swirling winds ceased.
     The secret of facing any kind of storm is not to watch the thunderous waves.  The way through is to focus on the God who is in complete control.  God knows when to watch us walk on the water and when to pull us up from the bottom of the sea.  He will calm the fierce and seemingly relentless wind.  He will calm the storm raging in our life.  Trust Him with all of your heart.  We may get wet, but He will not allow us to drown.
     One of my most popular posts shows the time that my children walked on water.   I think that you will enjoy it.

PS:  A few weeks ago I came across the incredible painting at the top of this post.  I have been unable to find out who the artist is.  If you know, or should this painting be yours, please tell me.  I would love to give credit.

This post was featured at Create With Joy.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Paint By Number Masterpiece

     Last week, I told you about a treasure that I did not buy.  This week, I am going to show you the one that I did.
     Patty and I were out when I spied this wonderful original painting of a clipper ship in full sail.  Isn’t it wonderful?
     Some of you art connoisseurs may have noticed that my treasure is a Paint by Number.  Paint by Number kits included a cardboard canvas with blue sketched areas appropriately numbered so that when you applied the coordinating paint to the segmented spaces, you would, eventually, end up with a masterpiece.
     I loved these kits as a child.  I painted kittens, horses, ballerina’s, and landscapes.  Paint by number kits made me, ME, an artist.  Even the box proclaimed, “Every man a Rembrandt.”
     I still remember the scent that emanated from the little pots of oil paint as I carefully opened and stirred them.  And oh, the challenge of cleaning those little paint brushes so that the next color would be true and the brush supple enough to paint within those blue squiggly lines.
     The beauty of Paint by Numbers is that even though a kit may start out exactly the same as a million other kits, the end result was determined by the artists hand.  Some artists left sure deft strokes of paint, and others little blobs and smudges.  Some were signed with pride when completed and others left unfinished and hidden in the attic.
     Vintage Paint by Number paintings are becoming quite collectible.  An unpainted Clipper Ship is currently offered on ebay for $184.00.  There is even a Paint By Number Museum.  And look what I found on-line.  The same Clipper Ship painted as a mural in a nursery.
     The Book of Genesis says, “in the beginning God created.”  Stop and think on that, God created.  God made art with His actions.  And when God made us in His image, He shared the gift of art with us.  We are artists.
     Now some of you are disagreeing.  I’m not an artist.  I’m a principal.  A construction worker. An accountant.  Because chances are, most of us haven’t gone to art school or been commissioned to sculpt marble, or paint murals.
     But could it be that our very actions of service are the art that we are to create?  That the daily responsibilities and obligations, that we just want to get through so that we can get on to the bigger and better things, are the art arena’s of our lives.  Could it be that we are artists when we serve our spouse’s, care for our children, and be faithful in our work?  Could it be that the very place of service where our feet stand is exactly where God is calling us to create our masterpieces?
Let’s allow our lives to be guided by the True Artist.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10
     You are an amazing work of art.  A masterpiece created and purposed in love.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

I Wear Pink

     I almost didn't make the appointment that saved my life.  The mammogram that detected my cancer was exactly one year and one day from my previous one.  Ladies, please do not neglect your yearly mammograms.  You can read more about my journey through breast cancer here.

 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31

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