January 11, 2014

Insomniac ABC's

Lydia woke me up at 4:45 this morning, complaining of a headache. I gave her ibuprofen and tucked her back into bed. Getting back to sleep before the alarm went off at 5:30 wasn't happening, so I figured I might as well get started on my daily prayer P.A.T.H. (Praise, Admit, Thank, ask for Help). Being an organization freak, I decided to work my way through the alphabet, praising God through His names/titles/attributes. Of course, He knows Who He is. The acknowledgement is for my benefit and reminding and because it is good to do. He is God; I am not.

Here's the list I came up with (thanks to my wise husband for his help!), including Scriptural support Unless otherwise indicated, all references are from the NIV...also note that my mental meandering considered the Triune God: Father, Son, Spirit. May His name be praised and adored. "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness" (Psalm 115:1).

Ancient of Days ~ "As I looked, 'thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took His seat.'" (Daniel 7:9)

Blessed One ~ "'Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?'" (Mark 14:61)

Counselor ~ "'The Counselor, the Holy Spirit...will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.'" (John 14:25)

Deliverer ~ "The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer." (Psalm 18:2)

El Roi (God Who Sees) ~ "'I have now seen the One who sees me.'" (Genesis 16:13)

Faithful and True ~ "I saw heaven standing open and there before me was white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True." (Revelation 19:11)

Good Shepherd ~ "'I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.'" (John 10:14)

Holy One ~ "Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One among you." (Isaiah 12:6)

Immanuel ~ "They will call him Immanuel--which means, 'God with us.'" (Matthew 1:23)

Jesus ~ "'You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.'" (Matthew 1:21)

King of kings ~ "On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." (Revelation 19:16)

Lord of lords ~ "For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome." (Deuteronomy 10:17) 

Maker of heaven and earth ~ "My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." (Psalm 121:2)

Name above all names ~ "God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name." (Philippians 2:9)

One and Only ~ "We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only." (John 1:14)

Prince of Peace"He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

Quieter of His peopleThe LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)

Redeemer ~ "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth." (Job 19:25)

Savior ~ "Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." (Psalm 25:4, 5)

Truth ~ "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

Unequaled ~ "'To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?' says the Holy One." (Isaiah 40:25)

Vine ~ "'I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and i in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.'" (John 15:5)

Word ~ "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)

Xerxes' Sleep-Taker ~ "The Lord took sleep from the king that night." (Esther 6:1, from the Septuagint; God was preparing to do something amazing among His people through His servant, Queen Esther, and "taking sleep" from Esther's husband, King Xerxes, was part of the plan!)

Yahweh ~ "Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7, World English Bible)

Zion's King ~ "'I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.'" (Psalm 2:6)

"Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for You; 
Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts." (Isaiah 26:8)

January 2, 2014

Real-Deal Chocolate-Covered Popcorn

Today seemed like a good time to share a little of the "chocoholic" part of Guilty Chocoholic Mama!

Here's an article I originally submitted for my column in Kalamazoo Parent magazine; this spotlights a Guetschow family chocolate classic: Chocolate-Covered Popcorn. Trust me: you need this in your life.

Dear Elizabeth,
We hope you like camp and had a good night your first day there. We think of you each day and will say a prayer for you at suppertime. I’m writing this on Saturday, so not much has happened that you don’t already know about…

Thus began a letter my mom sent to me when I was away at camp one summer during my elementary-school years. Actually, she sent it before I had even left home in order to ensure I would get mail early in the week. My mom was, clearly, a dedicated correspondent, and her missives about the weather and my family’s activities (particularly those of my sister, Missy, and my brother, Paul) at home in my absence helped assuage my slight homesickness.

We really had a good rain last night and this morning—everything is turning green again. I’m making pickles, and we might go over to Grandpa’s for lunch today. Daddy had two ballgames last night, and Paul went with him, but Missy and I stayed home and played “beauty shop.” Missy says “hello” and Paul says to tell you he’s “still here.”

My mom favored letters over care-packages. Our family budget was tight, and letters were far less expensive to mail. Also, I was only gone a week at a time and could easily survive that long on camp food. But if she had sent me a care package, my mom might well have enclosed a batch of Chocolate-Covered Popcorn. This gooey treat is a legendary family classic that travels well, is relatively inexpensive to mail, and keeps for days.  This is not, mind you, mere plain popcorn drizzled perfunctorily with melted chocolate. Nor is it caramel corn similarly treated.  This is popcorn fully encased in a chewy chocolate coating, almost like chocolate caramel. Stir up a batch and send it to your away-from-home child. I promise: you’ll have one happy camper, indeed.

Chocolate-Covered Popcorn
14-16 cups plain popped popcorn (I use an air-popper and make 1 ½ batches)
½ cup sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
¼ cup butter (no substitutions), cut into chunks
Dash salt
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla
Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 300°. Place popped popcorn in a large roasting pan or other extra-large baking pan coated with cooking spray.  (If you do not have an extra-large pan, you can use 2 9x13-inch baking pans and divide the popcorn evenly between them.) Bake at 300° for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes; this removes extra moisture from the popcorn so the finished product will be crisp. Combine sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt, and chocolate in a 2-cup microwave-safe measure or small microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on High power 2 minutes or until boiling, stirring after 1 minute. Watch carefully unless you want to create a chocolate volcano in your microwave! Remove from microwave and stir in vanilla. Carefully pour the very warm chocolate mixture over the popcorn and toss gently to coat using a large spoon or spatula. Serve immediately or allow to cool in the pan before packing up to mail to your favorite camper. Makes about 14 cups…enough to send to camp with some left over for the home crowd. 

January 1, 2014

Gratitude and Good Things

It's the beginning of a new year, and true to my introverted, melancholy, dysthemic nature, I'm feeling a sense of dread. I know, I know...some attitude, huh? 

So, in the spirit of Veggie Tales' Madam Blueberry--"a thankful heart is a happy heart"--I thought I'd start a "Gratitude and Good Things" project...really just a list of things I'm thankful for that make me feel more contented and less fearful. This mirrors the "blessings jar" that many (my own sweet Lydia included) have started, but saves me having to make the jar--which feels too much like a craft. I'm starting this list on January 1, 2014, but will add to it throughout the year. Nothing is going to turn me into an optimist, but maybe this list will convert me to a more grateful realist! Happy New Year, mamas!

Elizabeth's 2014 Gratitude and Good Things List

1. Snow and cold. Real winter already, and only officially about 10 days in (from January 1, 2014). I know I'm the only person in the world who feels this way, but everyone else will have to start their own blog and put "90 degrees and humid" on their list in July. 

2. A clean shower. Comet "Lavender Fresh" with bleach smells lovely, is cheap, and deals with shower unpleasantries. Forgot I had cleaned with it yesterday and got a nice surprise gift when I stepped in this morning.

3. Hot water. 

4. Wood heat. And a wood-burning fireplace.

5. An MSU Rose Bowl victory! (And the very happy husband that comes with it.)

6. Good grades on a regular basis for both my girls. They have to work hard to get them, but that's a lesson in and of itself, and I'm thankful they have keen minds capable of learning. Learning (and even caring about grades) is a struggle for so many kids; I'm truly grateful my girls generally want to do well and are able to do so if they put in the effort.

7. Proverbs 32 women's Bible study...and our wild and wonderful journey though the book of Daniel!

8. Dark chocolate-almond Dove candies. (Mental) health food. Oh my.

9. (From Anna) When someone scratches your back and gets at just the right itchy spot. Ahhhh....

10. (Also from Anna) Chapstick--especially when your lips are like little deserts and you can't think of a thing in the world you want more than a tube of relief. 

11. On-line banking. I was late to the party, but I'm so glad I finally showed up. 

12. A new Scripture memory/meditation project. Always feel I should "listen" to/for God after prayer time during my morning walk. Alas, my own thoughts get in the way. Need something God-centered to keep my brain otherwise free in case He is trying to tell me something. Also need to memorize more Scripture. Ta-da! Mentally and/or verbally "chant" a portion of some chunk of the Word I'm trying to memorize. This will: 1)keep my mind from straying to what to make for dinner or finances or other troubling matters; 2)help me sharpen my sword (see Ephesians 6:17); 3)keep my mind/spirit available to hear God (I figure He can interrupt my replay of His own Word to tell me something else if He wants to). Current list of Scriptures I'm working on:

  • Daniel 2:20-23 ~ "Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His. He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him. I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers."