Tuesday, October 23, 2012

If You Need Abundant Mercy

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3).

Have you felt inadequate lately? Unworthy? Have you felt like your life is a hopeless mess, or you've failed too much and are too far gone?

Have you wondered if you will ever get past that sin-hump and grow to new heights with Jesus? Have you wondered if you're really His, or if He really loves you, or if He could possibly have any use for you?

Good news: Our Father has an abundance of mercy, and He has begotten us not to despair, but to a living hope. How - what foundation is there for this hope?

He raised Jesus from the dead. From the dead! A God who can raise the dead can heal the sin-sick, can change the leopard's spots, can melt the heart of stone, can do anything!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Appreciating Women

Women are half of God's image.

"And Elohim created man in His own image;
in the image of God He created him;
male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27).

Every person on this planet matters to the Father, and that includes women. So this month, as we're thinking about breast cancer awareness, remembering loved ones lost to the disease, encouraging the women in our lives to be careful, and generally "painting the town pink," let us remember also the women of all ages, around the world, who face deadly dangers of all varieties, like these little girls in India.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Celebrating Happy Days


It wafted up from the cafeteria, and my feet followed its strains out the door of art history and down the zigzag steps to the side of the hall, where I joined the crowd of a couple hundred students smiling while peering over the railing.

Down there in our own beloved cafeteria, bereft of the typical tables and chairs with laughing groups of students huddled over laptops, textbooks, and TV dinners - down there a ring of people surrounded the spacious, spontaneous dance floor where a score of individuals flowed danced to the Cupid Shuffle!

I looked around quickly - was there anyone I knew well enough to talk into joining the dance? I couldn't go by myself, not in front of all those people, but maybe if there was one person . . . but there wasn't, so I shrugged and immersed myself in the watching. Aahh, the joys of dance parties! =)

An international student from Africa joined us at the railing. "What?" Her face expressed confusion as she gestured toward the dancers.

"They're dancing, just for fun." I smiled.

"For fun," she nodded as she turned back to gaze at them. A few moments later, "What are they celebrating? They are just having a happy day?"

I laughed and nodded, full of the jubilance of the moment.
"A happy day, yes."

What further reason do we need in order to celebrate?
It's a happy day!
Let's dance.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Yahweh to Abraham

Can you make a star? I can!
Can you make a baby? I can!
Can you crumble walls, with your fist, to the ground? I can!
Can you fill wounded souls with jubilant sound? I can!

Can you see the heart? I can!
Can you love the dark, crazy? I can!
Can you take the world's swords, remake them for plowing? I can!
Can you unite the world's sects, make them peaceful and bowing? I can!

Can you feed the birds? I can!
Can you heal the dying? I can!
Can you wash the earth with fire or a flood? I can!
Can you wash your heart in the river of My blood? I can!

Can you do the impossible? I can!
Can you change the unchangeable? I can!
Can you make the faithless an army of soldiers? I can!
Can you remain faithful after generations are over? I can!

And I Am.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Old Bertha's Death (among others)

It's sad, but true - Bertha died yesterday. The good news is that she may come back to life shortly. Bertha is my car, lovingly named by a middle school volunteer at camp this summer. If you had the privilege of watching my car try to climb a little hill, you'd understand. =)

So anyhow, yesterday I was on my way to a 9:00 appointment when all of a sudden a "bird" started "chirping." Then lights came on; smoke began ascending; and just as I pulled into an available driveway, the steering wheel locked up. Isn't it great that the driveway was right there?

I got out and lifted the hood, but of course had very little idea what I was looking at. It turns out my cell phone was dead, too; and the owners of the driveway were away from home. Well! So, after leaving a note, I walked the remaining thirty minutes to my appointment through the invigorating morning air, arriving in time to have a five-minute discussion - that's all the time it needed to take, and it was a very satisfactory chat.

A friend's cell phone connected me to my parents, and soon my dad picked me up and we took a look at my car. He noticed the serpentine belt was missing, so we spent the next few hours fixing it. (I would have taken pictures, but my camera batteries were dead.) Finally we got it fixed, only to find out that there was a bigger problem. Lol.

So there Old Bertha sits . . . idle . . . dead. Come back soon!

Update: she's back! I'm so thankful. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Easy Hot Chocolate for One

This recipe is flexible, so tweak it till you find what you like best! 

Measure one cup of milk
Powdered milk works, too, if that's all you have.
Add one to two Tablespoons of sugar,
one to two Tablespoons of cocoa,
1/4 teaspoon vanilla,
and a pinch of salt. 

Stir till somewhat smooth, then microwave for about a minute and a half; stir a little more, and enjoy! =)


Saturday, October 6, 2012

On Judging People by Their Emails

A click of the mouse opened an email from a stranger, and my eyes followed the paragraphs full of large words, many in ALL CAPS and accompanied by a plethora of exclamation points!!! The words were crisp and stern, offering commands like "You must" as well as severe warnings like "Make sure . . ." and "I will make no exceptions." There were at least three separate emails on the same subject and containing basically the same message.

Dutifully setting up the necessary appointment and leaving in plenty of time to arrive punctually, I couldn't help but wonder what I was getting myself into. What kind of person was this? Obviously someone very stern and strict. Perhaps even mean. I expected a little old lady with those typical "teacher" spectacles and a shrill voice. Or maybe a large middle-aged professional with a condescending manner.

After parking my car, I took a sip of water and smoothed my hair. All the doors said, "Please use main entrance," so I kept walking around the building until I opened the glass door and entered an empty lobby. Passing through, I found empty hallways with doors and numbers. Finally, tucked away in a little corner - there it was.

The door was open, so I walked inside and peeked around to find an elderly woman at a desk. "Hi! I'm here for an appointment?"

What followed was a very helpful session with the sweetest, most peaceful and well-mannered woman I've ever met, which just goes to show that you should never judge a woman by her emails.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

"Worst Day of My Life"

Imagine having to be the bearer of bad news to a little child.
Imagine if you were that child.

Today, bad news was borne and received - bad news that is good news too; but the goodness doesn't cancel out the deep, lasting pain of the hurt. And so the women who bore the bad news say, "This is the worst day of my life."

Then they turn around and look at me through teary eyes, and they ask, "So - you still want to do this?" And I look back with a hurting heart and say, "yes," but inside I'm wondering how I can. . . .

How must the Father feel as He looks down at all us little children in our pain, knowing the good He's going to make out of it but knowing also that the pain is still real? Does His heart ache? Do His eyes water as His Son's did at Lazarus' funeral? Does He long, as these women did, to wrap His arms around each of us? Are we broken enough to let Him in?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Yay for Feedback!

Today is a very special day - a first - a day I've been eagerly awaiting for some time. What happened? 

My art history essay came back full of notes. 

That's right - the teacher critiqued my paper!
This has never, ever happened before, and it feels like I waited forever while teachers glanced briefly over my papers for good grammar and decent points and arbitrarily passed out A's. This world of rigorous college I've entered is a world full of so much potential for learning, and I'm super excited! 

A heartfelt "thank you" to the teacher who took the time to really read my paper and give constructive criticism so future papers can be better.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

World Day of Bullying Prevention

"There is a social hierarchy in all schools we all know the rules to even though they go largely unspoken. It is a stupid, broken system, but one that persists none the less. The only time anyone dares to say the rules out loud is when some well-meaning friend intervenes to either caution someone on their choice for a date request by saying, “dude, she’s outta your league” or to remind someone that to be seen talking to someone beneath his own current level is to be committing social suicide. Without ever being formally told how these circles work, everyone just automatically knows. ...When someone successfully jumps social circles it is worthy of observation, and I have had the chance to watch one person do it very well. 
"I knew this kid for three years, but I didn’t know how special he was until I encountered him in the cafeteria near the beginning of his senior year. That is when I realized that he made it his mission to make sure no one ever sat at a table and ate alone. It didn’t matter who it was, what their social status was, or how weird the rest of the student body perceived the loner to be, this young man sat down and talked to the student through the lunch period. Of course, he had a normal group that he ate with most of the time, but he left to branch out several times each week. Sometimes he joined the “cool” group. Sometimes he joined the athletes, sometimes the musicians, sometimes the academics, sometimes the drama kids…it was a revolving door." ~ Mary Kramer
To read the rest of this inspiring article, visit the Blue Shirt Day Facebook page.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Heartbroken Excitement

That's how I feel. Yesterday was my first day volunteering for an organization that helps foster children, which is something I've wanted to get involved with for a very long time, so I'm so thankful for the opportunity! This organization is making a positive difference in the lives of many children of all ages, right here in my little corner of the world; and now I get to witness it first-hand, which is why I'm super-excited.

And yet . . . the first thing I had to do was sit at a desk and read page after page of information that filled me with deep, heartbroken sadness. I've read stuff like that before, but only in a book or newspaper, and those were written by strangers far away. This was here. Now. 

What can I do to help? I know how to be a friend, to love children, to give them attention and guidance. If a child's biggest problems were failure to thrive or neglect, I think by the grace of God I could help them with my current skill set. But what about the other, more difficult issues? What can I do? 

Then I stop and remember - I'm only a freshman - four more years of training stretch out into the horizon. And God will equip the called, and He loves these children and has a purpose for everything He allows. And He loves me, as I sit here unable, heartbroken, and so very excited. 

Speak out on behalf of the voiceless,  
and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.
Speak out in order to judge with righteousness  
and to defend the needy and the poor.
Proverbs 31:8-9

Monday, September 24, 2012

Garlic, My Friend

I love garlic! Every time I start to catch a cold, garlic is there for me to ward it off. Here's what I take: 

2 cloves of raw garlic (very small bites)
an apple
and a tall glass of water

It's hot, it's spicy, and some say it stinks; but hey - it does the job. Here's an article I just found that offers some alternative ways to take raw garlic. Praise to the Great Physician who provides us with such amazing foods!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Which Pleasures?

Moses chose "to suffer affliction with the people of God [rather] than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin" (Hebrews 11:25). So  . . . it's true: there is pleasure in sin. We know this, and yet we don't; because who would sin if there were no pleasure in it?

Some say that when you get saved, God changes your want-to, taking away your old desires and giving you new ones instead. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any Biblical support for this magical exchange, and my experience confirms that the old want-tos are still there. Of course, new ones have come - God does give us new desires.

But the old ones are still there, which is why He says in Colossians 3:5, "So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God)."

The problem with the pleasures of sin is that they are fleeting - temporary, passing, only for a little while. And the other problem is that they are always accompanied by pain. The pleasures of sin are counterfeit pleasures given to us by the evil one, who only comes to steal, and kill, and destroy. Therefore, the pleasures he gives are laced with pain and hide a bitter slavery.

Real pleasure comes from God. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17).

The pleasures the Father gives last forever. "You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11).

And pleasures from Him are pure pleasure - no pain. "The blessing of Jehovah - it maketh rich, and He addeth no grief with it" (Proverbs 10:22).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New Mercies

Do you ever wish you could do other things while driving?
Maybe read a book?
Make eye contact in conversations?
Write a paper?

Or maybe, just maybe, you wish you could take pictures.

There should be a way to do this.
(If you already know how, please share! Lol.)

Driving to work in the morning, I encounter so many beautiful scenes.
Clouds in the valleys, between the trees
Mist rising from placid lakes
Clouds enveloping the road, so I have to drive straight through them
Hazy, painterly sunrises, where subtle pinks and blues sleepily stretch out on the horizon's edge

My eyes glimpse so much beauty, with no time to stop and capture it.

And then I think, maybe that's the point.
These are God's mercies, sent fresh every morning, intended to be wake-up kisses to kick off my day with Him. They are not random pieces of nature meant for me to say "Wow" and then post on Facebook so others can say "Wow." Instead, they are specially crafted gifts from our Creator. Our Father gave us this!
So today, appreciate the beauty God sent and thank Him, camera in hand or not.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Waiting to Be Adopted

This video tells the story of several children who want a home and family of their own. Could you be that family?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Life Is Art

The camp staff were seated around one long cafeteria table, discussing art.
"Photography is art," said one.
"Music is art," said another.
"Communication is art," said a third.
And a fourth chimed in, "Recreation is art."
Laughing inside, I said, "Life is art."
Someone across the table took me seriously and agreed quite enthusiastically. "It's true," he insisted.

Is it really? Is life really art? Well, think about it for a few days and see.
I did, and now I think so, too.

One thing's for sure - food service is art. Did you know how much thought and beauty can go into one salad? Or one fruit cup? One wrap or parfait? It's an art form, and it blesses the eye and the recipient.

What if we carefully arranged our words and actions with as much precision as a painter creating a masterpiece, or as much detail as a food prep worker arranging a salad?

It makes sense, really. We were made in the image of Yahweh, Creator of all that is beautiful. He is an artist. His first recorded act was to create something beautiful.

Then of course we are all artists. Life is art!

"And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands" (Psalm 90:17).

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Caffeine and the Brain

This semester landed me back in school, pursuing a degree for the first time. Which makes me one of those "non-traditional" students. It's fun! Reading, writing, and . . . well, thankfully no arithmetic yet.

This week, psychology required finding a scientific journal article about a psychoactive drug, and then writing a review of said article. After being introduced to coffee this summer (and surprisingly loving it!), its effects on the brain provided a natural topic for the research. A couple of words in the search engine on the school library's website, and wa-la!

"Coffee, tea, chocolate, and the brain."

Two Spanish authors used a method called meta-analysis, looking at at least four studies done over the course of five years and integrating the results.

And here's what they found:

In low to moderate doses, caffeine improves moods, increases alertness and physical activity, and enhances cognitive capacities. Of course, in excess it causes irritability and disturbs sleep. So as long as we keep this thing in moderation, we'll be good. Right? =)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Good Shepherd

The thief comes
only in order that he may steal
and may kill
and may destroy.

I came
that they may have and enjoy life,
and have it in abundance -
to the full,
till it overflows.

John 10:10, Amplified Bible.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Chocolate Cake "Catastrophe"

Responsibility is not my favorite thing. I prefer to be the person in the background, following the instructions of someone else who knows exactly what they're talking about. But this summer, God took me out of my comfort zone and put me in leadership in a kitchen, feeding up to 300 people every day.

Now of course, God was feeding them and just using me as His human hands. And this work was for God's glory, not for the kids' stomachs or the camp's success or even its reputation.

When it was easy and everything went as planned, I enjoyed the job very much. However, other days came, days when everything didn't go as planned and it certainly wasn't easy.
Days when we ran out of Fritos for taco salad.
Days when we barely had enough French fries.
That one day when both the four-door refrigerator AND the top convection oven stopped working, and we had to make 15 lasagnas plus several trays of rolls. =) I still enjoyed it, and experienced the added thrill of conquering a difficult task combined with the joy of watching God provide. 
And then . . . there was the cake day. We had already fixed chocolate chip cookies and brownies. Peach cobbler was for supper, and banana pudding for later in the week. We didn't have enough cocoa to make nobakes. Peanut butter cookies were out due to allergies. That left cake. Easy enough, right?

We baked four sheet pans of chocolate cake, then slid them onto the cooling rack and raided the pantry for icing. Hmm . . . one large jug with a few cups leftover at the bottom. Guess we'll have to make the rest.

So we rounded up plenty of milk and butter and vanilla and . . . 16 cups of powdered sugar.
Now, 16 cups might sound like a lot, but when you need 32 - that's woefully short.
So we called the lady on grocery run duty, and she agreed to pick some up.

Breathing came a little easier, until the groceries arrived and no powdered sugar. They searched the houses on camp grounds and rounded up 8 more cups, and while they were doing the rounding up someone began mixing up the ingredients sitting by the mixing bowl.

It was my fault.

I should have explained not to start yet, but now the bowl was full of this runny mix of 4 batches of butter, milk, and vanilla and only 2 batches of powdered sugar. And we only had 1/2 the powdered sugar we needed to make up the difference. What could we do? 200 children and nearly 100 adults would walk through the serving line in 30 minutes, and all we had was plain chocolate cake and some random gooey liquidy stuff.

I wasn't thinking about God's strength or sovereignty or glory, only my mess-up and the (hopeless) situation. Crazy thing - even when we're not thinking about God, He's still thinking about us. =)

The director's wife was very gracious and tried to cheer me up, then suggested we try it with what we had and see what happened.

Sure enough, the little bit of powdered sugar was enough to turn the mixture into a thick glaze, and with someone's suggestion of a small container of cocoa added to that, it became a beautiful chocolatey glaze that drizzled nicely over the cakes and turned that dessert into one of the week's favorites. So yummy!

Thank You, Jesus, for being in control and growing my faith once again!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hunger and Thirst

Those who are never thirsty
are never refreshed.

Those who do not hunger
are never filled.

~ Dominion, by Randy Alcorn

Thursday, July 5, 2012


It's cliche, I know, but it's hard to believe the summer has gone by so quickly. There are only 3 weeks left!

It has been good to get to know the other staff. As different ones got sick and drank firewater; stepped on nails; overheated, hallucinated, and/or collapsed; or broke bones, we have drawn together to care for each other and grown into a team I don't want to leave.

God has worked in the hearts of many campers, softening hard hearts, transferring children and teenagers from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His dear Son.

This week was perhaps the most exciting yet, and certainly the most difficult. We got back to camp and visited the pet baby rabbit (who died a couple days later), played a couple rounds of Jungle Speed, and hurried around preparing for a surprise birthday party.

After dinner, we heard an awesome testimony from a newish couple on staff, then hiked down to the lake to jump and swim in those beautiful waters.

Monday morning, 175 campers arrived. They ate, played, and went swimming. They had a powerful worship service where the preacher encouraged us to give ourselves completely to God (Romans 12:1-2). They ate candy and went to bed, then woke up for another day of the same. Or so they thought.

The wind picked up, and around 3:00 it rained - an answer to a couple weeks of prayer! And oh, it smelled so good! The staff didn't eat much at dinner, saving room for the tea party that night.

Everyone had to wear a hat, and we voted on the most creative one. We went around the room and shared stories of our most embarrassing moments, and halfway around the room someone's phone rang.

"There's a fire!" We thought it was just a brush fire, or a forest fire; but it turned out to be in one of the dorms. It was hard to believe, standing there in the dark watching flames lick the walls and roof of a building where so much had happened over the years, an investment of many loving hands and a tool of our loving God. It seemed so purposeless.

And yet, all of the campers were safe. It was understandably traumatic, and those girls shed many tears. While the firefighters fought the flames, two girls were eternally saved from Hell's fire.

Camp will continue for the rest of the summer; it will just require a little rearranging. Please pray for the camp, and for the director and his family. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

First Week

How good it felt to be back at camp this past week! After a summer off, it was a joy to drive down that 15mph gravel road to the wood dining hall and walk around the beautiful property.

One by one the staff arrived and began to bond over jungle speed and ultimate frisbee, washing dishes and cleaning cabins, jumping off cliffs and hauling logs. We gave candy to campers, and we listened to each others' testimonies. We heard a talk on bitterness and were warned not to let any little thing divide us. The director and his wife demonstrated proper and improper ways to hug. We watched The Pineapple Story, and a sermon about meditating on small chunks of God's Word - one verse a week. 

I learned more about humility, and enjoyed seeing how beautifully God is working in my life and those around me. 

A few firsts this year: 
cooking for 100 people all at once
entering the "tower" and climbing to the fifth floor
climbing back up from the lake via the rope
waltzing with a girl in the dishpit
walking Emmaus-style when it wasn't Emmaus
getting lost in the woods
eating surprisingly delicious microwavable potato chips made from only potatos and salt
drinking chai tea

Next week will be the first week of official campers, and we're praying for 100. Please pray for us to be yielded vessels pouring God's love into the heart of every 7- to 14-year-old girl who comes to camp!

Thursday, May 31, 2012


"For this reason I bow my kneeds
to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
from whom the whole family in Heaven and Earth is named"
(Ephesians 3:14-15).

the whole family in Heaven and Earth . . .

A few weeks ago, God fulfilled a lifelong dream of travelling to Africa to help children in poverty. I flew across the Atlantic Ocean, switched planes across Europe, crossed the Mediterranean Sea, and sped over hours and hours of rock and sand in the Sahara Desert until finally landing in the tiny, crowded country of Burundi. And what did I find there? My God, the one true living God, active and worshipped by a thriving community of believers. I was at home there in the community of God's people.

Just like here.

Except a little different. There, it is appropriate to talk to everyone around you. It is right to greet everyone in the room, and to shake each hand. The markets and buses are full, body-to-body. You don't have personal space, and honestly it's kind of refreshing not to have to worry about staying out of everyone else's physical and emotional bubbles!

When I said goodbye, they sent greetings.
"Greet everyone, your parents first of all. Greet the believers in America. Tell them the brothers and sisters here greet them in the name of Jesus Christ."

Then last weekend at the Emmaus Walk - I mean Grace Young Adult Chrysalis Journey #5 - coming together with brothers and sisters from all around Kentucky and Tennessee to love on twenty-five young women and lead them closer to the Father, it was there again, this sense of community: "the whole family."

I think of the greetings at the end of every letter in the Bible.

Then there were Paul's journeys.
"And finding disciples, we stayed there seven days. . . .
We came to Ptolemais, greeted the brethren, and stayed with them one day. . . .
And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. . . .
At Sidon, Julius gave Paul liberty to go to his friends and receive care. . . .
And the next day we came to Puteoli, where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome. And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us."

And then today, reading in 1 Corinthians, I found this beautiful verse:
"To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours."

Why is it that the Christian feels at home so many places all over the world, wherever his brothers and sisters are? Could it be because this world is not our home, but Heaven is, and wherever God's people are gathered it is a little taste of that Home?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Trying Hard

Well she tries to believe it
That she's been given new life
But she can't shake the feeling
That it's not true tonight
She knows all the answers
And she's rehearsed all the lines
And so she'll try to do better
But then she's too weak to try
~ You Are More
(Tenth Avenue North) 

You can't get to Heaven by working hard to earn a ticket,
and I can't become pure and holy by trying really hard.

It is God who saves, and it is God who purifies.
His grace made me His, and His grace will make me all His.
He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it!
Jesus is the Author and Finisher of my faith.

I've tried so hard, and the results are only failure; but His grace is sufficient for me.
Thank You, Jesus!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

He Would Run to Me?

Humans are slow to forgive.
Humans wait, aloof, arms crossed, for you to walk the whole way to them.
Humans accept apologies with words of reproof, to clarify that their forgiveness does not excuse the wrongs that you did.
Humans take you back with limitations and qualifications.
Humans may remind you later of your unworthiness and guilt.

But when you return to God, He runs to you. Runs!
He is looking for us, waiting. And when we come to our senses and start to walk home, the moment we come into view on that dusty road He runs to meet us, throws His arms around our necks, and proclaims a party.

Would He really do that? Would He run to me?
Luke 15 says He would.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cooking with toddlers . . . and allergies

No one in my family has a food allergy, so when I eat or cook I pay no attention to the ingredients list. It tastes good, so that's all that matters, right? But now that I have toddlers in my classroom who have food allergies, it's a big deal. Did you know how much stuff has soy in it? Bread, margarine, sprinkles, EVERYTHING!!! What is it for, anyway?

So this week we're studying cooking.

Monday we mixed goop - sounds fun, right? Trust me, it was. =) 4 cups of cornstarch and two cups of water, mixed together (it's stiff at first), makes enough for 12 toddlers to touch and play around with. It also makes a very sticky white mess all over everything.

Tuesday we spread jelly on English muffins. Jam and bread both have soy.

Wednesday we rolled cookie dough - eggless, soyless cookie dough. Mom already had the recipe for cut-out cookies, and I googled egg substitutes. It turns out that applesauce and mashed bananas work great.

Here's the recipe with alterations: Cream together 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 cup real butter, 1/2 cup applesauce, and 1/2 mashed banana. Add 1 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. lemon extract. Stir in 4 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. soda. Shape into roll 3 inches in diameter. Wrap in wax paper, and chill. Do not freeze. Roll out; cut shapes.

Wednesday night after church I baked the cookies (at 350 until lightly brown), and this morning I searched the dairy crisper in the refrigerator for real butter to use in the icing. To my dismay, 8 sticks of margarine met my eye. No butter. I ran to brush my teeth, and carefully locked the door before driving around the bend to the nearest grocery, then rushed back to stir the following ingredients: 1/2 stick butter, 1 pound powdered sugar, milk, and 1 tsp. vanilla. It was ready just in time to put everything away and head out the door to work.

The kids loved spreading the icing (and some of them enjoyed adding sprinkles . . . umm, no, I didn't even research how to make soy-free sprinkles. Really, who puts soy in sprinkles? Oh, well.) Nothing like 12 sticky, messy kids smiling up at you while stuffing frosted cookies in their mouths and signing for more.