Now that the big dinner is over, I’m back to learning something new. Cooking for two. My tendency is to fill a big pot and cook so much, we have to eat it for days. So I’m training myself to create smaller servings.
You can take the girl out of the country … you know that saying. I’ll always be a country girl at heart. I love a piping-hot skillet of cornbread. So I figured out how to make it smaller. I buy a well-known brand of cornmeal that comes in a round box with a recipe on the side. I follow the recipe and combine all the dry ingredients. That’s my “step one.”
Step two – I get out my kitchen scale. I love that thing. You can also use measuring cups, but for what I’m about to do, the scale is easier. I divide the dry ingredients in half. I try to get as close as possible. I bag up one half, label it as “cornbread mix,” and put it aside. Then I finish the recipe with the other half.
I think heating the pan with the shortening in it makes a big difference. You can use an 8″ skillet, an 8″ pie or cake pan–I’ve even used a glass pan–like the one you use for a small batch of brownies. I put half the amount of shortening in the pan (remember you’ve halved the recipe). I have to say here, I’m generous with shortening. I use half butter and half coconut oil.
You can’t halve an egg, so I use the whole thing, then half the milk–pay attention to this one–I tend to pour in the full amount. Yeah, thin batter. Take the hot pan out of the oven and pour most of the melted shortening into the batter and mix it. This is why I’m generous with the shortening. I leave a good layer of it in the pan. Pour the batter into the hot pan (I love the sizzle). Then place the pan back in the oven and leave it there for the required time. By the way, you can also heat the pan on the stove top or the microwave (if it’s glass) to melt the shortening. Handle with care.
I go away and do other things. It seems to take a long time for the stuff to cook, but that’s only because I’m waiting. It’s like waiting for water to boil. Now, don’t burn it, but don’t take it out too soon. In the last couple of minutes, it turns this beautiful, toasty brown. I love that. It has a nice crispy, crunch to it, and the center is moist.
If you’re a fan of cornbread mixes, you’re probably wondering why I go to all this trouble. Here’s the reason: because I want to–it’s very satisfying–and I like it better than any mix I’ve tried.
So I guess my last “Thankful” is that I’m cooking for two, not one. We almost lost one this year.
I love learning new things. Actually, I try to make enough to send to work with hubby the next day. So maybe I’m actually cooking for three.
What’s your favorite small recipe? As the Christmas holidays approach, sometimes it’s easier to pick up a meal out, but what if you’re on a budget? I’ve found many things I can cook at home quicker and easier than waiting for someone else to do it. I know the ingredients are quality, and I trust the cook. 🙂
Gratitude. It’s not just a synonym for thankfulness, it’s a state of being. Something that is often forgotten. Those nine lepers in Jesus’ day (Luke 17:11-19) missed a blessing by not sticking around to say, “Thank you.” Yes, they were miraculously healed, which is a gift in itself. But in their haste—their excitement over being cleansed of this horrible disease, did they forget something? Where was the gratitude?
“Were there not ten of you,” Jesus asked the one who came to thank him. “Where are the nine?”
Shame on the nine.
Shame on me, when I forget to say thanks.
What does the word gratitude mean to you? What thoughts enter your mind when you read that word? Do you think of things (inanimate objects)? Do you gaze around at your personal possessions? The roof over your head? Or do you think of your health? Are you thankful for each new day when you wake up and get out of bed?
Some don’t wake up. Some can’t get out of bed.
I tend to think of people. Those who are special to me. Family, friends, and those acquaintances who may become good friends in time. These are the most pleasant of gifts. Folks who actually care whether or not you wake up in the morning.
Some don’t have anyone.
On Thursday, we gather together to celebrate a turkey. Of course, I’m kidding, but it does sometimes seem that way, especially at my house. If I put a turkey in the oven, they will come to see me. If there’s pumpkin pie, it’s pretty much a guarantee. 🙂
This year, I’m especially grateful for the loves of my life, my husband, my sons, their wives, and those precious grandchildren. I plan to make gratitude a big part of our celebration.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. And if you have all the things above—a roof, possessions, health, family—I hope you remember to express your gratitude for those gifts. If you don’t have some of these things, but you have your health, you can be grateful for that.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (New International Version)
A time to remember our veterans–those who’ve served in the U.S. military. I have a lot of friends and family who have served and are now serving our country. The phrase, “I’m thankful for your service,” just doesn’t seem enough.
I didn’t serve, I can’t salute you, so I’ll let this guy–
There’s a folded flag on my bookshelf, a reminder of my dad’s service for his country. He was a proud veteran of the Korean War. Dad hung a flag on his porch at every opportunity. I’m thankful for the memories I have of his patriotism and gratitude.
November is a time to celebrate family, come together over a meal of thankfulness. Many of us will sit at those tables and tell what we’re thankful for this year. I look back at my year and I have to shake my head. In the roll call of my years, this one stands out in several ways.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to go to Ecuador. I never expected to do that. I went to be a blessing, but I think they did more for me than I could ever do for them. I’m grateful for the many new friends I made. I will forever carry their memory in my heart.
I’m thankful for my husband–November is his birthday month. We very nearly lost him this summer when his health took a sudden nosedive. By the grace of God, and in answer to the many prayers of family and friends all over, he received excellent care and has recovered. My heart overflows with gratitude to God, and for the many who took time to say a prayer on our behalf.
I’ll continue my “thankful” list as the month goes on. Until then, “The Lord bless and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” — Numbers 6:24-26 NIV
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” I Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV
Most Christians are familiar with the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians. This passage goes on to say that love never fails. Prophecies end, tongues fail, knowledge passes away. Life moves on, but love never fails.
To react in love in your dealings with others never fails. People may reject you. They may overlook you, walk all over you (spitefully use you), all of the above, but if your personal reaction to all of those is still love, you’ve won.
It’s not easy. Especially not today. You’ll have ample opportunities to be angry today. You’re fed up and can’t take it anymore. Look in the mirror and tell yourself today will end, but love never will. It’s the power of love – remember that song? (I’m hearing Huey Lewis’s version in Back to the Future.)
Love is powerful. If you need a reminder, read I Corinthians 13 – I’ve given you a link to Bible Gateway above. I can’t read this chapter enough. Each time I read it, I see something new and I grow up a little more. At my age, I didn’t think I needed to grow up anymore.
Just in time for Thanksgiving season! With a heart filled with love, Thanksgiving becomes easier. Notice I didn’t say “easy.” It may not be easy, but you can love others no matter what they do to you. Even when they leave you. Because there’s the ONE who will never leave you, or forsake you. And HE makes it possible for you to love. Because HE freely gave of HIMSELF.
Today, let me encourage you to fill the day with love. I know what day it is. But no matter how many offend you with their words or deeds, let your answer be in love. Your blood pressure will thank you. It’s the power of love!
Author of Dancing Like Bees, 31 Steps to De-stress, Delight, and Dance Like Bees
It is my privilege to introduce today’s guest, Peggy Cunningham, fellow Write Integrity Press author. Peggy and I became virtual friends while I was preparing to make the trip to Ecuador. Peggy and her husband are missionaries stationed in Bolivia, so she very kindly shared some excellent advice on traveling to South America. Her children’s book, Really Rare Rabbits made the trip with me. I shared the Spanish version of the book with viewers during my first live television interview in Cuenca.
Today on the blog, Peggy is talking about her latest release through Pix-N-Pens Publishing–a devotional book called Dancing Like Bees. Very cute cover, don’t you think? Intriguing title, too. I’ll let her tell you more about herself, her writing, and the inspiration for the book.
Where do you work?
Peggy: I work at the ends of the earth––in Bolivia, South America, where my husband and I have been missionaries since 1981. At times, it seems like the end of the earth when we’re without pepperoni and McDonald’s. I say that with a smile. But seriously, those things grow dim when we compare them to the joys of doing God’s work. We minister to the Quechua people of the Andes Mountains––both in the valleys and remote mountain areas. We have a children’s ministry teaching underprivileged children practical skills while reaching them with the gospel. We also have two churches––one in the rural area where we live and work, and one in the city closest to us.
Betty: I know at times it’s a sacrifice, and at other times, a blessing, so let me ask you,
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Peggy: Honestly, when I wrote my first book, I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer. What I did know was that I wanted to stay in touch with my grandchildren from 6,000 miles away. They visited Bolivia for the first time when they were only toddlers. My daughter and son-in-law wanted them to bond with us, and they decided to stay for three weeks so our grandchildren could get to know us. It certainly helped us connect with them as grandparents. When they left to return home, the silence in our house rang out loud and clear. For at least a week, we found any excuse to leave the house to escape our loneliness and sadness. I began to ponder how to communicate with them from afar. At the time, phone service was expensive and not always reliable. And, phone calls usually resulted in yes and no answers––hardly relationship building. I prayed for a unique way to connect with them, and God gave me the answer––writing.
So, how did you begin writing?
Peggy: My answer to staying in touch with my grandkids came from God. And, it resulted in the beginning of my writing journey, now going on 12 years. I decided to write stories for Ben and Kayla about the animals they had come to love while visiting us. At the time we had nine animals––resulting in nine stories. Ben and Kayla looked forward to my next story with excitement, so I kept writing. Those stories became my first venture at self-publishing. Their overwhelming success with our supporters, friends, family, and churches caused me to begin thinking about a publisher. But first, I started submitting stories and devotions to magazines, and that resulted in being asked to write a children’s column for a Christian newspaper. In 2013, Pix-N-Pens Publishing released my first traditionally published three-book children’s series, Really Rare Rabbits. Now, I’m writing non-fiction also. My first devotional, Dancing Like Bees, was just released this month by Pix-N-Pens Publishing.
How many books have you published?
Peggy: Dancing Like Bees is my fourth traditionally published book. And, I’ve self-published 14 children’s books.
Tell us a little bit about your new book, Dancing Like Bees.
Peggy: My book explores our struggle with stress and how to energize our walk with God: hence the sub-title, 31 Steps to De-stress, Delight, and Dance Like Bees. Through the 31 devotionals, I investigate the “bes” of finding peace through life’s difficult circumstances in our daily journey with God while using the honeybee as an example of God’s organized and peaceful creation. Chapters include: Be Pollinating, Be Yourself, and Be Renewed.
I find it interesting that when talking with people about missionary work they sometimes think we live a perfect, fairy-tale type life where everyone gets along, and there are no problems or stress. I almost chuckle because that is not my life. But, it’s a myth believed by many. The number one reason missionaries leave the field is because of stress–-with relationships, finances, and their children just to mention a few. The same stress factors we all encounter no matter our geography. I examine some of those common stresses in my book.
I know you’ve visited the mission field, Betty, and I’m sure you can attest that missionary life is stressful. Missionaries are not exempt from real life, although we do live an exotic life in some ways and do experience some stress factors only related to missionary work. But, I haven’t eaten an elephant––nor would I ever––but swinging from trees like Tarzan might be therapeutic at times.
Betty: Ha ha! It absolutely would. And yes, I saw stressful situations among the mission workers in Ecuador. I met so many who have given everything to follow the call. I have to admit, I was in awe of their dedication.
Where did your inspiration come from? And, where did you meet your main characters for your book?
Peggy: I felt frustrated and near exhaustion when I slipped away temporarily from my caregiver duties to meet with the Savior one morning. My husband suffered with a bout of shingles that left him in constant pain with no relief—not even with morphine. Months turned into years. Countless doctors tried their best but with no success.
“Where are you, God, I asked? Don’t you see us in the middle of a foreign country with no help?” Of course, I knew He did, but I couldn’t feel His presence because of my circumstances that seemed to engulf me. I sat near a flowerbed filled with daisies and that’s when I met my main characters for my book––the Honeybees. Their busy buzzing drew my attention. They flew peacefully from flower to flower doing the job God created them to do, even as a storm approached. If bees could be joyful and peaceful in all circumstances, surely I could find a way. And, so I began researching the honeybee to learn more of their everyday lives.
Betty: That is truly an amazing story. Honeybees are a fascinating subject. We can learn a lot just from watching them.
What message do you want to convey with this book?
Peggy: Even in days of uncertainty and turmoil, and the “stings of life”, I hope my readers will find new depths of joy from the parallels of the work of the bees to the Christian life that I’ve discovered through my research of God’s creation, the honeybee. Bees communicate through their dances to reap their harvest, and they work till death. In and through the midst of challenging faith-stings, I hope Dancing Like Bees will refresh and revitalize stressed souls and God’s honey will ooze like a salve to heal their life-stings. Last but not least, I hope all who read my book will find God sufficient in all circumstances to live a joy-filled busy, balanced, and blessed life so they can dance as David did––with all their might. “And David danced before the Lord with all his might” (Samuel 6:14 KJV).
Thank you, Betty, for inviting me to share about my book on your blog. I’m blessed to be your fellow author with Write Integrity Press and your friend.
Betty: Any time, Peggy. It’s always nice to talk with you. I hope to meet you in person one day. In the meantime, I’m glad to give my readers a chance to know you better. Readers, I hope you’ll take a look at Peggy’s website. Keep up with her journey and the fascinating stories she writes.
More about Peggy Cunningham:
Peggy Cunningham and her husband, Chuck, have been missionaries in Bolivia, S.A., since 1981. In 1999, they founded Rumi Rancho Ministries. Chuck and Peggy work with the Quechua people in a rural area of Bolivia where they have a children’s ministry––teaching practical skills to underprivileged children. They also work with national churches. Peggy teaches teen girls’ cooking and baking classes along with Bible studies. She is also a writer. Her children’s book series, Really Rare Rabbits, volumes one, two, and three, released by Pix-N-Pens Publishing in 2013 is available on Amazon.com in print and on Kindle. They are also available in Spanish. Her new book, Dancing Like Bees, is her first non-fiction book, a devotional, published by Write Integrity Press/Pix-N-Pens Publishing in 2016 also available on Amazon.com. All books can be ordered at local bookstores also.
Frustrated and exhausted, Peggy walked the mission property early mornings to slip away temporarily from her caregiver duties and meet with the Savior. Her husband suffered from a bout with shingles that left him in constant pain with no relief—not even with morphine. Months turned into years. Countless doctors tried their best but with no success.
Where was God? Didn’t He see them in the middle of a foreign country with no help? Hadn’t they given their lives to serve as missionaries and trusted Him for their health? She wept as she sat near a flowerbed filled with daisies. Just then, the buzz of bees drew her attention. They flew peacefully from flower to flower doing the job God created them to do, even as a storm approached. She noticed a pattern. If bees could be joyful and peaceful in all circumstances, surely she could find a way.
Through the thirty-one devotions, this book examines what Peggy learned about God’s intricate creation of the honeybee and how it speaks direction into our need for living peaceful, productive lives while overcoming stress and achieving joy. God is faithful always, and His creation magnifies His majesty if we take time to seek Him in everyday situations—even through the honeybee. Buy the book:Dancing Like Bees