Wednesday, January 09, 2013

What's Working Wednesday: Soft Pretzel Dough isn't Just for Pretzels

What's Working Wednesday is my weekly post to showcase something that is working for me or my family at the moment. It may not work for us forever and it may or may not work for you.

One recipe that has been a life saver lately has been my soft pretzel dough recipe. In the past I have often used this recipe when the kids have had friends over as a fun activity/ craft/ snack for them. It is a super quick, super easy recipe.
Lately I have been making "pretzel rolls" using the pretzel dough. I haven't taken the time to make bread lately and when we have needed bread quick for a meal, rather than making a run to the store which costs in both the arena of time and money, I have quickly made up a batch of the pretzel dough recipe and instead of forming the dough into pretzels I've formed them into rolls. (OK, as you can see from the picture below, I often make both rolls and pretzels. BONUS - fun snack!) I've used the recipe to make hot dog and hamburger style buns lately.

Soft Pretzel Dough

Mix together:
1 1/2C warm water
1T (or pkg) yeast
1t salt
1T sugar
4C flour (I usually use a mix of white and wheat. I've never tried it with a gluten free type of flour, let me know if you try it and it works with that.)

I often knead it for a minute or so by hand or let my Kitchen Aid mix it for a while then let it sit for about 5 minutes. Break the dough into the number of pretzels or rolls that you want to make then roll them into whatever shape you like.
 Bake them at 425 for 12-15 minutes.
Yummy pretzels and pretzel rolls, ready for a quick meal.

 It's fun shaping the pretzels. I don't think I am quite ready for a job at Auntie Anne's but my pretzel shaping skills have improved and my family likes these rolls better than the ones we would buy at the store.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Opportunity

Yay! Gypsy Mama's Five Minute Friday prompts are back! I've missed them! Today's FMF word is:
"We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations." - Chuck Swindoll
I love this quote. Some may see them as an impossible situation but the next 3-6 months are going to be a great opportunity for our family. They're going to be an adventure. I am not exactly sure what they are going to look like. I'm not exactly sure where we're going to be sleeping for many of those nights BUT we have a great opportunity to be used of God and be open to His leading to answer His call to do what He wants us to do.

Since there is no specific location that we need to be at and we'll only have about a weeks' worth of stuff with us in our van we have an opportunity to more easily answer God's call. I think of Abraham. Life must have been so much simpler back then. God asked him to go and he was able to pack up and go. It doesn't sound like it took him weeks or months to pack like it always does us.

I guess I need less stuff. I think of that book I read about the Muellers. It took them less than an hour to pack their possessions. It takes me longer than that to pack for a weekend! How much more free I would be if I had that little stuff. Free to answer God's call where I am without the distractions and added responsibilities of owning too much stuff even when I am not in the process of moving.


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Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

"Will You Go Out Without Knowing?"... Again?

 Can I tell you how much I love my Jesus and how thankful I am for my blog? The other day I was re-reading through my blog. I am struggling a bit with the unknown of our upcoming mystery months and my blog is a great place to go back to for encouragement. When I am struggling with something I like to go back and re-read post from when I struggled with something similar in the past.

I was encouraged as I read my "Adventures in Homelessness" posts from the fall of 2009. God really provided for us in that crazy time of unknown. I laughed as I re-read Sunday School to the Extreme (Caleb's least favorite post ever) and thought about how close to reality that day is for us right now. (We're packing some warm stuff and some cold stuff, not sure what the weather is going to be like where ever we end up going.)

I also came across the post I wrote last year on this date. That day I was packing to prepare to move here and came across My Utmost for His Highest and read today's daily reading titled "Will You Go Out Without Knowing?". It made an impression on me and I blogged about it. Reading it made me laugh at how much closer to actually going out without knowing we are this year.
"Have you ever “gone out” in this way? If so, there is no logical answer possible when anyone asks you what you are doing. One of the most difficult questions to answer in Christian work is, “What do you expect to do?” [Which is a question we are being asked all the time right now!!] You don’t know what you are going to do. [We really don't know what we are going to do this time.] The only thing you know is that God knows what He is doing. Continually examine your attitude toward God to see if you are willing to “go out” in every area of your life, trusting in God entirely. It is this attitude that keeps you in constant wonder, because you don’t know what God is going to do next. Each morning as you wake, there is a new opportunity to “go out,” building your confidence in God. “. . . do not worry about your life . . . nor about the body . . .” (Luke 12:22). In other words, don’t worry about the things that concerned you before you did “go out.”
"Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do— He reveals to you who He is. Do you believe in a miracle-working God, and will you “go out” in complete surrender to Him until you are not surprised one iota by anything He does?
"Believe God is always the God you know Him to be when you are nearest to Him. Then think how unnecessary and disrespectful worry is! Let the attitude of your life be a continual willingness to “go out” in dependence upon God, and your life will have a sacred and inexpressible charm about it that is very satisfying to Jesus. You must learn to “go out” through your convictions, creeds, or experiences until you come to the point in your faith where there is nothing between yourself and God."
 I thought that it was appropriate last year we as were preparing for going out to an unknown named Lowville, a place we have come to love. It's a bit more appropriate this year as we are truly going out without knowing. Possibly more than we ever have before.

 I laughed as I read that devotional again today. I don't know the number of times lately that we have been asked, "What do you expect to do?" We really don't know. (Those of you who have followed us for long probably aren't surprised.)

Yesterday I  talked with my brother for a bit. Part of our conversation went something like this:
Russ: So, when does residency start again?
Sonja: At the end of June.
Russ: OK. So, what does late January through June look like for you guys?
Sonja: I really don't know. We're heading west for a bit to do some stuff then we need to be back around Syracuse for part of March around Match Day. Other than that...

We know where we are sleeping for the first few nights after we leave but after that we really don't know what we are going to do for sure. No one has told us that they need their house-sitted though several people have offered to let us move in with them for a time. We don't really need to be in a specific location for much of that time. It is much colder this time of the year than it was back in the fall of 2009, last time we didn't know where we were going to sleep. We are still (at this point) planning on bringing our sleeping bags and tents, even though we didn't get to use them last time. I am hoping to do some camping this time but it is COLD everywhere in the US right now.

It is kind of scary going out without knowing and but I do know my God. He knows our needs and it is exciting that we are in a position to "Each morning as [we] wake, [have] a new opportunity to “go out,” building [our] confidence in God." How many people actually have the freedom to just up and do what God asks them to do? It's an exciting prospect. I'm excited about how He is going to show us more of who He is.

Our mystery months are, I am sure, going to look very different from our previous times of homeless adventures. Our faith is going to grow through this experience and we are excited that, when we come into a situation like this again (at the end of residency possibly?? only the Lord knows), we will be able to look back in wonder at what God did and look ahead in confidence that He is going to do take care of the details again.

A friend recently posted this song to facebook. I don't think that I had heard it before but it has been the song on all of our lips lately, building our confidence in our constant... only good... sovereign God who will not forsake us, even for a moment.

Not For a Moment (After All) by Meredith Andrews
You were reaching through the storm
Walking on the water
Even when I could not see
In the middle of it all
When I thought You were a thousand miles away
Not for a moment did You forsake me
Not for a moment did You forsake me


After all You are constant
After all You are only good
After all You are sovereign
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Not for a moment will You forsake me

You were singing in the dark
Whispering Your promise
Even when I could not hear
I was held in Your arms
Carried for a thousand miles to show
Not for a moment did You forsake me


And every step every breath you are there
Every tear every cry every prayer
In my heart at my worst
When my world falls down
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Even in the dark
Even when it's hard
You will never leave me
After all


2013 Word for the Year: Live

For the past several years around New Years I have often heard people talk about having a word to use as their focus for the year. It kind of reminds me of the little "gifts" we would get at church at the Christmas Eve service when I was a kid. We would always get a little ornament or something with a little piece of paper with a word, it's definition, and a verse on it. I found one in my mom's Bible. They looked like this:
 We always looked forward to finding out what our word was and would run around to all of our friends asking what word they got and talk about them as a family on our way home. If someone got a word like "patience" they would often joke around wondering what the year would hold that they needed extra patience for. The words and verses were often very appropriate for the year to come and were usually mentioned by someone at the Thanksgiving Eve testimony service at church the following year. Mom kept a record of several of the years in the back of her Bible:
 The last gift that she was able to pick was "appreciative (I Thess.5:18 ["in everything give thanks for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus"])." As I saw that today it made me wonder how that played out for her personally. 2001 was a difficult year for me to be appreciative. She was so sick that year and not able to teach and then, after May 23, she wasn't really able to do much of anything. What role did the word "appreciative" play in her life that year? I really don't know. Looking back I am appreciative, not necessarily for the circumstances of 2001 but for what God has in my life through them. I had "courageous" that year. Deuteronomy 31:6 says "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you." I am so thankful that my faithful God was with me and did not fail me or forsake me during that difficult year.

{sigh} I wasn't really going to go into all of that. I am really grateful for the words that God gave me over the years at Seneca Community. I haven't had the privilege of going to a Christmas Eve service there in over a decade so I am not sure if they still do the word thing or not.

The last few years God has laid a word on my heart that He has challenged me to live out for the new year. In 2011 it was present. The word for 2012 was open. They have both had an impact on my life during those years. Being open this past year has enriched my life in ways that I would never have imagined if I had stayed "safely" closed as is my preference. I may blog more about it later.

This year though, I didn't think that I was going to be given a word. As I thought and prayed about it though God impressed me with the word "live." So much of my life the focus of my life has been "survive." With our upcoming "mystery months" that has been my focus - "How are we going to survive?" with a focus on food and shelter. God gracefully reminded me of this:
 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25-34
 The other day, after playing out in the snow with the kids, Glenn and I were discussing how we really felt alive when we were playing with them out there. This year, with all the unknown that it will contain, I would like to truly live.

John 10:10 says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." I have allowed "the thief" to steal my joy, kill my passions, and destroy my peace for far too long. 

This year, with God's help, I long to live the life that God desires me to live and to live it to the full. 

What word has God called you to this year?