Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolved By The Grace Of God, pt.7

Closing out Jonathan Edwards' resolutions:

Resolutions Sixty-One-Seventy
by Jonathan Edwards

61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc.
62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty, and then according to Ephesians 6:6-8, to do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man: 'knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord.'
63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time.
64. Resolved, when I find those 'groanings which cannot be uttered,' of which the Apostle speaks, and those 'breakings of soul for the longing it hath,' of which the Psalmist speaks, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be weary of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, not of the repetitions of such earnestness.
65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this, all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness, of which I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to Him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance.
66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.
67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, and what I might have got by them.
68. Resolved, to confess frankly all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help.
69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it.
70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.

Lord willing, tomorrow: my resolution "of first importance."

Have a great day!

Soli Deo Gloria~

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Resolved By The Grace Of God, pt.6

This section concludes the article on resolutions in Tabletalk.

Resolved By The Grace Of God (concluded)
by Burk Parsons

Resolving For Christ's Sake
"So far as they are agreeable to His will for Christ's sake." We cannot resolve to do anything with a presumptuous attitude before God. The whole matter of mkaing resolutions is not just goal setting so that we might have happier lives. We are called by God to love according to His will, not our own–for Christ's sake, not our own–for it is not unto us but unto Him that all glory belongs.


"Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake." Psalm 115:1

Resolutions Fifty-One-Sixty
by Jonathan Edwards

51. Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned.
52. I frequently hear persons in old age, say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.
53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in Him, and consecrate myself wholly to Him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer.
54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it.
55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if, I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments.
56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether I have done my duty, and resolve to do it, and let the event be just as providence orders it. I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty, and my sin.
58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity.
59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times.
60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination.


Have a great day!

Miss Blair for the Novelteatalkers

Monday, December 29, 2008

Resolved By The Grace Of God, pt.5

Good Morning! I hope you have all enjoyed your Lord's Day yesterday. Here are some more thoughts on resolutions to start the week, and end the year. And don't forget the new Notable Quotable on the side bar. It changes every Monday.

Resolutions By The Grace Of God (continued)
by Burk Parsons

Resolving Humbly
"I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these resolutions." In making resolutions for the glory of God and before the face of God, we must not come into His presence pounding our chests in triumphal arrogance as if God must now love and bless us more because we have made certain resolutions to follow Him more. In reality, the Lord in His providence may choose to allow even more trials to enter our lives; in His unchanging fatherly love for us, He may decide to discipline us even more in order that we might more so detest our sin and delight in Him. We should approach Him in humble reliance on His grace as we seek not merely the blessings but the one who blesses.


Resolutions Forty-One-Fifty
by Jonathan Edwards

41. Resolved, to ask myself, at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly, in any respect, have done better.
42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism.
43. Resolved, never, henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God's.
44. Resolved, that no other end bu religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be in the least circumstance any otherwise than the religious end will carry it.
45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, no any circumstance relating to it, but what helps in religion.
46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eye: and to be especially careful of it with respect to any of our family.
47. Resolved, to endeavor, to my utmost, to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented and easy, compassionate and generous, humble and meek, submissive and obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable and even, patient, moderate, forgiving and sincere temper; and to do at all times, what such a temper would lead me to; and to examine strictly, at the end of every week, whether I have done so.
48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that i may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or not; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of.
49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.
50. Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Resolved By The Grace Of God, pt.4

More on resolutions...

Resolutions By The Grace Of God (continued)
by Burk Parsons

Resolving Dependently
"I am unable to do anything without God's help," Edwards admits. We must be sensible in grasping the simple truth that every resolution must be made in dependence on God. And while every Christian would respond by saying, "Well, of course we must depend on God for all things," most Christians have been sold the world's bill of goods. They think that once they become dependent on God, then they will have immediate strength. They mimic the world's mantra: "Whatever doesn't kill me will make me stronger." While the principle is generally true, such thinking can foster an attitude of proud independence. We must understand that in being able to do all things through Christ who strengthens us means that we must depend on His strength continuously in order to do all things and to keep all our resolutions (Eph. 3:16; Col. 1:11). In truth, whatever doesn't kill us, by God's conforming grace, makes us weak so that in our weakness we will rely continuously on the strength of our Lord (II Cor. 12:7-10).

Resolutions Thirty-One-Forty
by Jonathan Edwards

31. Resolved, never to say any thing at all against any body, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.
32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that, in Proverbs 20:6, 'A faithful man who can find?' may not be partly fulfilled in me.
33. Resolved, to do always, what I can towards making, maintaining, and preserving peace, when it can be done without overbalancing detriment in other respects.
34. Resolved, in narrations never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.
35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved.
36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it.
37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, - what sin I have committed, - and wherein I have denied myself; - also at the end of every week, month and year.
38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on teh Lord's day.
39. Resolved, never to do anything of which I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or not; unless I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.
40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking.

Don't you just long to meet him in heaven?

Have a great weekend! May the Lord bless your Lord's Day tomorrow.

Soli Deo Gloria~

Friday, December 26, 2008

Resolved By The Grace Of God, pt.3

Good Morning!

I hope all our Talk Time readers had a wonderful Christmas. Are you still enjoying those calorie free cookies :) You better eat 'em all now....because in 6 days we'll all be abounding in resolutions by the grace of God.

The article in Tabletalk that I'm taking these daily posts from takes Jonathan Edwards' opening paragraph to his resolutions and guides us in making our own resolutions.

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ's sake.


Resolutions By The Grace Of God (continued)
by Burk Parsons

Resolving Sensibly
"Being sensible," Edwards begins his preface–we must be sensible, reasonable, in making resolutions. If we set ourselves about the business of hastily making resolutions as the result of our grand illusions of sinless perfection, it is likely that we will not merely fail in our attempt to keep such resolutions, we will likely be less inclined to make any further resolutions for similar desired ends. We must go about making resolutions with genuine prayer and thorough study of God's Word. Our resolutions must be in accord with the Word of God; therefore, any resolution we make must necessarily allow us to fulfill all our particular callings in life. We must consider all the implications of our resolutions and be careful to make resolutions with others in mind, even if it means implementing new resolutions incrementally over time.


Resolutions Twenty-One-Thirty
by Jonathan Edwards

21. Resolved, never to do any thing, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.
22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.
23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God's glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th resolution.
24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then, both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.
25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.
26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.
27. Resolved, never willfully to omit any thing, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.
28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, not that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.
30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.
I love those last three, especially. Feast on those, and Lord willing, more on resolutions tomorrow.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Resolved by the Grace of God, pt.2

Good Christmas Morning, Talk Time readers!

Part Two on resolutions:

Resolved By The Grace Of God (continued)
by Burk Parsons

The Resolve of Edwards
The nineteen-year-old Jonathan Edwards knew his weaknesses and was aware of the destructive nature of his sin, so he resolved to make and keep certain resolutions in his effort to live for God's glory. He helped pave the way for us all as he prefaced his seventy resolutions with these words:

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ's sake.

These simple, introductory words of Edwards not only provide us with a glimpse into the mind of one of history's greatest minds, they provide us with a glorious insight into the heart of a young man whose heart had been humbled and mastered by the Lord God Almighty. We would therefore do well to consider Edwards' prefatory remarks as we seek to glorify God and enjoy Him forever in our churches, our homes, and our hearts.

Resolutions Eleven-Twenty
by Jonathan Edwards

11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do wat I can towards solving it, if circumstances do not hinder.
12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.
13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.
14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.
15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings.
16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.
17. Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
18. Resolved, to live so, at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.
19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.
20. Resolved to maintain the strictest temperance, in eating and drinking.

Now there was a man who was resolved, by God's grace, to glorify and enjoy Him with every fiber of his being. Oh, may the Lord make us saints like that...always with an eye to Heaven, and Heaven's King!

More on resolutions, Lord willing, tomorrow...

Merry Christmas from the Novelteatalkers

Handmade Christmas Ornaments

So, this week I made some Christmas ornaments for a friend and I thought I'd share some pictures with you. I had her husband send me pictures of the kids and then I made the ornaments out of them as a Christmas present. They are so super easy....you could totally do this, guys. And, I actually made them so that they don't look "Christmas-y" so she can use them all year...hang them on door knobs, etc.

Just remember, these pictures are taken with our computer that's why I am unfortunately in every picture, and why the writing is backwards!! But in any event, I hope you enjoy them. (and I think if you click on the picture you can get a bigger image.)


"Cute as a Button" (I used brads that look like buttons. I don't know if you can really tell in the picture.) On some of them I used a ribbon to hang them and on the others I used a medium-sized clothes pin. You can add little embellishments to the top of the clothespin, too, to match the ornament...very cute.


"Gabby"


"time well spent"



"BUG"


"family"




"Happiness is found in simple things"
"Cherish"





"me&you"


"priceless"


"fun times"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Too cute...

Happy Christmas Eve!

Christmas Cookie Rules


1. If you eat a Christmas cookie fresh out of the oven, it has no calories because everyone knows that the first cookie is the test and thus calorie free.


2. If you drink a diet soda after eating your second cookie, it also has no calories because the diet soda cancels out the cookie calories.


3. If a friend comes over while you are making your Christmas cookies and needs to sample, you must sample with your friend. Because your friend's first cookie is calories free rule #1 is yours also.
It would be rude to let your friend sample alone, and being the friend that you are makes your cookie calorie free.


4. Any cookie calories consumed while walking around will fall to your feet and eventually fall off as you move. This is due to gravity and the density of the caloric mass.


5. Any calories consumed during the frosting of the Christmas co okies will be used up because it takes many calories to lick excess frosting from a knife without cutting your tongue.


6. Cookies colored red or green have very few calories. Red ones have 3 and green ones have 5 - one calorie for each letter. Make more red ones!


7. Cookies eaten while watching Miracle on 34th Street have no calories because they are part of the entertainment package and not part of one's personal fuel.


8. As always, cookie pieces contain no calories because the process of breaking causes calorie leakage.


9. Any cookies consumed from someone else's plate has no calories since the calories rightfully belong to the other person and will cling to their plate. We all know how calories like to CLING!

And finally...

10. Any cookies consumed while feeling stressed have no calories because cookies used for medicinal purposes NEVER have calories. It's a rule!

Resolved by the Grace of God, pt.1

As this year closes I wanted to post (hopefully every day...maybe not every day :) some thoughts on resolutions. The January issue of Tabletalk is themed on resolutions. So, I wanted to post some articles from Tabletalk and then close each post with some of Jonathan Edwards' resolutions. On January 1, Lord willing, I'll post my one main resolution for 2009 (after Jonathan Edwards has completely shamed me!). It might take a lot of work on my part, but I'll also try to get Lily to post her one main resolution, also. And, we would love comments – to know what you're resolved to do this year, by the grace of God.

Resolved By The Grace Of God by Burk Parsons

"...In order to remain steadfast in this persuit of active surrender of living for the sake of God and not for the sake of ministry, I must not only regularly confess my sin of self-reliance I must also resolve to remain resolved every day of my life -- living a life of repentence and faith, with every step and every breath, delighting in the Lord's abundant love and assurance. For if I confide in my own strength, my striving would indeed be losing.

Resolving to be Resolved
It seems that every new year, we are caught up in a whilrwind of welll-intentioned resolutions. With premeditated bursts of enthusiasm, those closest to us begin to take part in peculiar, and sometimes public activities that even cause neighborhod children to look puzzled. We find ourselves bearing witness to surprising edicts and seemingly self-conscious new year's manifestos whereupon we are summoned to behold what sweeping changes may come -- resolutions for impending dispositions, impossible diets, and impenetrable fortresses of discipline.
The skeptical observer may inquire, "is all this fervor really necessary?" Moreover, the cynical reader may ask: "Is it even appropriate to make resolutions? After all, shouldn't we at all times and all seasons seek to live wisely, obediently, and biblically?"
Some may even go so far as to argue that resolutions themselves are not biblical based on the fact that the Word of God itself provides us with a complete and authoritative compilation of God's resolutions for His people. To manufacture our own list of resolutions, they would argue, is superfluous at best.
These are the sorts of questions I have always considered when it comes to this whole business of making resolutions, and I have a hunch that many of my fellow biblically-informed skeptics also ponder such questions. Nevertheless, the Word of God gives us not only permission to make resolutions, it gives us good reasons for doing so. Various biblical passages seem to provide us with reasons for resolutions and examples of men of God who resolved to live for Him in a particular manner for a particular reason. As such, in considering how to glorify God in all that we do in our particular circumstances and callings, we would be wise to resolve to make particular resolutions to assist us in our sanctification. This we do by the power of the Holy Spirit, resting assured that we have been declared righteous by the Father becuse of the completed righteousness of the Son.


Resolutions One-Ten
by Jonathan Edwards

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence, Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever and how great soever.
2.Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new contrivance and invention to promote the aforementioned things.
3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.
9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.



More on resolutions later this week....

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Book Club -- Institutes of the Christian Religion

This morning I finished the third book of Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion. I made the goal of finishing this book by the end of December and now I'm ready to plunge into the fourth book and try to get it done by the conference: March 10 at 1:00 in the afternoon! I don't know if it's gonna happen...but I'm certainly gonna try. I can't quite now, right?

And, as always, when I finish a book of Calvin I have to give you a "quotable" right? I have been looking forward to the third book since I started the Institutes and it has fulfilled all my expectations. I think my favorite section was Chapter Twenty, on Prayer. It was excellent. So, I wanted to risk Lily's "long post displeasure" and post the entirety of section 2 of that chapter. I do hope it proves a blessing to you today. Now, I'm off to read Calvin...actually, to make a Christmas gift for one of my dearest buddies.....pictures coming soon, Lord willing (after I give it to her, in case she reads the blog before she gets the gift ;).

Have a great day!

In Him Who is Faithful,

Sarah

~

"To prayer, then, are we indebted for penetrating to those riches which are treasured up for us with our heavenly Father. For there is a kind of intercourse between God and men, by which, having entered the upper sanctuary, they appear before Him and appeal to his promises, that when necessity requires they may learn by experiences that what they believed merely on the authority of his word was not in vain. Accordingly, we see that nothing is set before us as an object of expectation from the Lord which we are not enjoined to ask of Him in prayer, so true it is that prayer digs up those treasures which the Gospel of our Lord discovers to the eye of faith. The necessity and utility of this exercise of prayer no words can sufficiently express. Assuredly it is not without cause our heavenly Father declares that our only safety is in calling upon his name, since by it we invoke the presence of his providence to watch over our interests, of his power to sustain us when weak and almost fainting, of his goodness to receive us into favour, though miserably loaded with sin; in fine, call upon him to manifest himself to us in all his perfections. Hence, admirable peace and tranquillity are given to our consciences; for the straits by which we were pressed being laid before the Lord, we rest fully satisfied with the assurance that none of our evils are unknown to him, and that he is both able and willing to make the best provision for us."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

some inspiration...


...for the members of our Cooking Catastrophe Commiseration Club.

Mrs. Higgins' daughter-in-law has started her own business of making aprons. So, if you guys are being true to the club and commiserating that you don't have an apron and you desperately need one....because you're always having catastrophes all over your clothes!...here you go!

Anita Higgins presents the Cute Cook's Apron:

You can visit her sewing blog here, and see her other aprons and fabric combos. You can also place your order there. (my personal favorite is the Very Merry)

Aren't they adorable? For someone who has as many catastrophes as me in the kitchen, I think I'm in the market!!

Have a great evening!

Sarah

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Book Club -- Institutes of the Christian Religion

It's not really me pouring the tea because I'm just quoting Calvin! I'm sitting here with my glass of water with no ice and my Institutes of the Christian Religion. It's a cold, bleak, December day around here...perfect for tea...or water with no ice.

In any event, while I was on vacation last week I was reading all about works, and righteousness, and justification by faith alone. So, I wanted to let you guys get a taste of this feast. So, pull up a chair to the tea table, and grab a glass of water with no ice and allow Calvin to pour your tea for you today. He's the head of our conversations this afternoon, on the mercies of the Lord in our daily lives. It's talk time!

"What righteousness then, can men obtain by their works? First, I say, that the best thing which can be produced by them is always tainted and corrupted by the impurity of the flesh, and has, as it were, some mixture of dross in it. Let the holy servant of God, I say, select from the whole course of his life the action which he deems most excellent, and let him ponder it in all its parts; he will doubtless find in it something that savors of the rottenness of the flesh, since our alacrity in well-doing is never what it ought to be, but our course is always retarded by much weakness....We thus see, that even saints cannot perform one work which, if judged on its own merits, is not deserving of condemnation."

"Being admitted to participation in Him, though we are still foolish, He is our Wisdom; though we are still sinners, He is our Righteousness; though we are unclean, He is our purity; though we are weak, unarmed and exposed to Satan, yet ours is the power which has been given Him in heaven and in earth, to bruise Satan under our feet, and burst the gates of Hell; though we still bear about with us a body of death, He is our life; in short, all things of His are ours, we have all things in Him, He nothing in us. On this foundation, I say, we must be built, if we would grow up into a holy temple in the Lord."

"[Righteousness] does not justify because it forms an idea of the divine existence, but because it reclines with confidence on the divine mercy."

"'When we speak of the perfect virtue of the saints, part of this perfection consists in the recognition of our imperfection both in truth and in humility.'" (quoting Augustine)

'Faithful is the Lord, who has made himself our debtor, not by receiving anything from us, but by promising us all things.'" (quoting Augustine)


I could keep going for forever....there are so many more that I would love to share. But, I will save them for another day's tea.

May the Lord bless your Lord's Day tomorrow, as you feast upon the great things He has prepared for you in His day!

Savoring all the Mercies of the Savior,

Miss Blair

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Test of our Christianity

We read this in family worship this morning and I thought it was a really good reminder to start the day. This is a daily reading by William Still in a book called Through the Year With William Still. (emphasis mine)

Revelation 5:7-14
7 And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. 8 When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 10 "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth." 11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." 13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever." 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, "Amen " And the elders fell down and worshiped.

The Lion-Lamb who has 'witnessed' the will of God in His work of redemption and judgement now takes the scroll out of the 'hand' of One on the throne. In humble obedience and yet in sovereign power He has perfectly accomplished the Father's eternal purposes (Heb. 5:7-9).
This is the signal for an outburst of praise and worship: a total massing of all created beings, both angelic and human, to honor the Son in a climax of praise. There are orders of beings who have been given free-will by God, yet have willingly, gladly and spontaneously laid their all at His feet in absolute worship. We should learn from the unfallen angels, as they are said in Ephesians 3:10 to learn from us.
It is given us that we might see the Babe in Bethlehem, the Man of Galilee, the Savior of Calvary, and the Risen One as All-in-all, as He must be to us more and more. This is the test of our Christianity: how holily excited can you become about Jesus who has done all for your salvation to the perfect pleasing of His Father?


May the Lord cause us to be wholly holily excited about His great salvation of such great sinners. "For you are not your own, you were bought at a great price."

Savoring the Mercies of the Savior,

Sarah

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Big Test

Hello Talk Time readers! Oh, I'm so glad to be back from vacation. Today was my first day back to school and I was sittin' at lunch today thinkin', "I'm so glad I'm not on vacation anymore." The Lord did bless our time but still...I'm glad I'm back to school, chores, the daily routine, choir, piano, teaching, and most of all: church! I can't wait to be back at Redeemer on Sunday!!

So, my week started off at the DMV. Monday morning at 9:00 I went to take my driving test (the on-the-road part) to get my license. I was so nervous. I couldn't stop thinkin' about it all weekend and everyone was trying to encourage me and tell me what I always tell them, "hey, no big deal!" But, I was still really nervous. The Lord just has this way of using every little moment to drive us back to Him and to prayer! There were a lot of prayers bein' prayed.

So on Monday I was shaking...just dreading the test. I got there and the DMV worker was grumpy. Of course that made me even more nervous. But that's ok....I know how to pray (at least the Lord's continually teachin' me ;)! So, we get out there on the road and he really just told me what to do and where to go. We went into this neighborhood and he told me to stop and to do a 3-point turn. I was so glad because I totally rocked those in Driver's Ed. Then he told me to back up in a straight line....what a relief to look forward again and see wet tire marks perfectly straight up the road :) And then I had to do a quick-stop. So basically, when he says "stop" just pretend there's a child runnin' in front of the car and slam your brakes. You just can't really fail that ;) Then I drove back to the DMV and he had me park. Thankfully the parking spot was on my right because I do better parking if I turn right rather than left into the space.

But, after that, he didn't even tell me if I passed or failed. Daddy had to ask him! I did pass...and now I'm a licensed driver!!

So, this afternoon I drove to choir by myself. It was the first place I ever drove by myself. It's supposed to be exciting and new, ya know. I was just plain lonely! Actually, it was fun -- I did enjoy it. But I love havin' my little Buggies in the back seat talkin' to me and there was nothin'.... I missed 'em.

That was Monday (and Tuesday). Wednesday I'll get to drive to piano. And Thursday is our big choir concert!! I'm so excited. Anybody in the Charlotte area? You're welcomed to come...I would love to see you there. You can e-mail me for location, etc. Somehow I'm just not thinkin' I'm gonna get a lot of e-mails, though. I'll have to do a post on that after Thursday night.

I hope you're all havin' a great week! Lily and I are gonna try to get some book club posts written sometime soon...and of course that means Notable Quotables. (by the way, the Notable Quotable on the side-bar still changes every Monday)

Have a great evening!

In the Savior,

Sarah

Monday, December 1, 2008

Back from vacation

Hi everyone!

Just checking in to see how every body's Thanksgiving holiday was! My family visited Jamestown, Williamsburg and D.C. (thankfully missing out on the thanksgiving/bubonic plague our other family had in Tennessee) We had a great time. I'll say more later when I post the pictures. Meanwhile I'm working on SAT prep, GCA assignments and math (blech). But it will be worth it since we're decorating for Christmas tonight while watching Celtic Woman. Anyway, busy day ahead so look for more later. Sarah and I will both have reading updates in the near future.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Week-Beginning

The past two days were made for a blog post. Mama and Daddy went out of town for their 20th anniversary. They left on Monday morning and got back this afternoon.

We really did have a wonderful time. I made chocolate chip cookies yesterday afternoon...no catastrophes. I heated up the casserole (Chicken and Broccoli, for those of you who are wondering) For those of you who aren't: read the story; get the recipe. Anyway, heated up the casserole...no catastrophes. I even remembered to put a cookie sheet under the baking dish so it didn't bubble over onto the bottom of the oven. This morning we had turnovers and fried eggs...no catastrophes. I even remembered to heat the oven to 475 degrees and then, when I put them in the oven to turn it down to 400 degrees. And, while the eggs didn't flip the way I wanted them to (were not restaurant-perfect circles) hey, they were fried eggs and they tasted like it. There were a couple more visits to the casserole dish (lunch and dinner tonight)....no catastrophes!

We also cleaned the whole house...I'm talkin', the whole thing! We dusted every room, vacuumed every room (and the stairs) cleaned the bathrooms, did all the laundry in such a way that there was nothing dirty when they got home (not even a dish towel), packed the boys' suitcases because we're headed to Atlanta tomorrow to be with family for Thanksgiving, cleaned the kitchen, etc. It was so much fun to get it all ready for them.

But, you know that a blog with the title "conversations on the mercies of the Lord in our day unto day lives..." can not have a blog post that doesn't talk about His wonderful mercies to us. Yeah? Yeah.

I was really nervous about going to bed last night without Mama and Daddy being here. So, I purposely stayed up late knitting so that I would be nice and tired and just fall right to sleep instead of imagining the bands of bad guys that might be coming up the stairs, or the fire that might happen in the middle of the night...and speaking of fire, "did I turn off the stove after dinner, or not?" So, I was very tired when I went to bed at 11:00 last night. And, the Lord was so good: I always sleep better when it rains. I don't know why, I just do. And the Lord sent rain last night. Not a thunderstorm, just a steady, calm rain. So, I didn't hear any weird noises...just the rain and I went right to sleep and didn't wake up until this morning. My first thought when I woke up was, "oh! it's morning! The Lord is so good to us." He truly is so good.

And so, as we enjoy this Thanksgiving week may we be mindful of all His goodness to us and be truly thankful.

"All praise to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ever ask or think!"

I do hope all our Talk Time readers have a wonderful week...giving thanks to our gracious Father who has blessed us so richly and done such great things for us. We have every reason to be a truly thankful people. And, if you didn't read Mrs. Higgins' post the other day...don't miss out on some wonderful reminders of "all His unspeakable gifts to us."

In Him, with much rejoicing for the great things He has done,

Sarah
p.s. Lord willing, when I get back from Atlanta (after a nice vacation with, Lord willing, lots of time to read) I'll have some book club posts, with many quotables :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Do you have a heart of thanksgiving?

There is a song by Casting Crowns which is called “I will praise you in this storm”. I listen to it often and I am reminded that this is what we are to do in the midst of life’s storms. We are to remember, like Job did in the midst of loosing everything he had, to say “‘The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” Job 1:21,22.

We all know this is how, as Christians, we are to respond. The difficulty comes when we are faced with the reality of the storm and find ourselves fretting and fearful. How can we turn a heart that is fretting into a heart that is resting with thanksgiving? The simple answer is “the just shall walk by faith”. As Jesus reminded the disciples in the midst of the storm "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?" Mark 4:40.

Do we see the storms of life as gifts of mercy or do we see them as interruptions and failures which cause us to be ungrateful and fearful? How can we truly be thankful and say with David “It is good for me that I have been afflicted” Ps 119:71.

We must view the storms the same way we view the blessings of God. They all come from a hand of loving kindness. They are gifts of mercy toward us for what they produce in us, if we see them through eyes of faith. When we see the blessings of God we are quick to be thankful for His lovingkindness but when we are afflicted we are not so quick to be thankful. I have to ask, are we truly thankful when we see the blessings or has that in itself stemmed from selfishness (my happiness, my comfort)?

As John Piper puts it, faith is as easy as dropping the nut. We must drop the fears and frustrations before we can lay hold of the Savior. We must look at what the cross of Christ gave us and look at it fully before we are able to rest our hearts in thanksgiving. Has not God said “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, For in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.” Isa 26: 3, 4. Do you see what that verse is saying? Who keeps us in perfect peace? How is that done?

Cultivate a heart of thanksgiving by looking at the loveliness of Christ and you will have a heart of thanksgiving during the storms. May it be a true heart of thanksgiving not one that bloomed from selfishness.

Let me leave you with a hymn to sing in your hearts.

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and bless├Ęd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.


Mrs. Higgins

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Quarry us deep"

We used this Puritan prayer yesterday morning as our confession of sin at Redeemer. It was so good...so all-encompassing...so rich: it just cut straight to the heart. I think I read it about 5 times yesterday. Now it could just be that I had a rough week of seeing way to much of my sinfulness and not enough of my Savior. I get into this downward spiral when I start to look inward: into my heart. Ya know, the Gospel is not in our hearts! It's just not there guys! It's so not of the flesh...not of the world. And so I get very down and very discouraged when I start to look at myself and not at my Savior. I was tellin' one of my buddies this past week: it's like I'm lookin' at my feet, makin' sure they're movin', instead of lookin' at my King and makin' sure that I'm headed in the right direction. Ya know, we're on a hill (a slippery slope) so of course our feet are gonna be movin'...it's a hill! So, instead of makin' sure that my feet are movin' I need to look at my King...at my Savior...and make sure that they're movin' in the right direction...that I'm steppin' heavenward! So, perhaps this confession of sin was only "that good" to me because I had more of a downer week. But then, I'm thinkin' we're all sinners. So, Lord, just set our eyes on You, our King and our Savior, and "quarry us deep."

Lord Jesus, give me a deeper repentance, a horror of sin, a dread of its approach. Help me chastely to flee it and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be Yours alone. Give me a deeper trust, that I may lose myself to find myself in You, the ground of my rest, the spring of my being. Give me a deeper knowledge of Yourself as Saviour, Master, Lord, and King. Give me deeper power in private prayer, more sweetness in Your Word, more steadfast grip on its truth. Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action, and let me not seek moral virtue apart from You. I have no master but You, no law but Your will, no delight but Yourself, no wealth but what You have given, no good but Your blessing, no peace but what You have bestowed. I am nothing but what You make me. I have nothing but what I receive from You. I can be nothing apart from grace. Quarry me deep, dear Lord, and then fill me to overflowing with living water.

May the Lord bless your week as we seek His face and strive to live before Him with much rejoicing for the great things He has done! "Oh how great is the Lord and greatly to be praised." May He fill our week, our days, our moments, our lives, our souls, to overflowing with living water!

"All praise to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ever ask or think"...and He's not done yet...until we see Him face to face in glory and we are "perfect and complete; lacking in nothing."

Miss Blair for the Novelteatalkers

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Book Club -- Institutes of the Christian Religion

This morning I made it half-way through the Institutes. So of course I had to share it with you!...of course I did! And of course, what would be a book club post when Miss Blair's servin' tea at the tea table without a book club quote...or three?

*note: the Talk Time readers need to read Calvin's Institutes, Book Three, Chapters Six through Ten*

"How powerfully should it soften the bitterness of the cross, to think that the more we are afflicted with adversity, the surer we are made of our fellowship with Christ; by communion with whom our sufferings are not only blessed to us, but tend greatly to the furtherance of our salvation." –Book Three, Chapter Eight, Section One: Of Bearing the Cross–One Branch of Self-Denial
~
"...the cross of Christ then only triumphs in the breasts of believers over the devil and the flesh, sin and sinners, when their eyes are directed to the power of His resurrection." –Book Three, Chapter Nine, Section Six: Of Meditating on the Future Life

~
"The order of justification which it sets before us is this: first, God of His mere gratuitous goodness is pleased to embrace the sinner, in whom He sees nothing that can move Him to mercy but wretchedness, because He sees him altogether naked and destitute of good works. He, therefore, seeks the cause of kindness in Himself, that thus He may affect the sinner by a sense of His goodness, and induce him, in distrust of his own works, to cast himself entirely upon His mercy for salvation." –Book Three, Chapter Eleven, Section Sixteen: Of Justification by Faith. Both the Name and the Reality Defined

Have a great evening and Lord's Day tomorrow...He's preparing a feast for our souls! May He cause us to hunger and thirst after the good things that He has for His children.

With much rejoicing for the great things He has done,

Miss Blair for the Novelteatalkers

Friday, November 14, 2008

"...because He cares for you."

I read this quote this afternoon on the Girltalk blog (one of those "different cups of tea" we enjoy on our side bar). It was very much what I needed to hear and so I thought I would share it with all our tea-sipping, quote-loving, Talk Time-reading buddies. May the Lord teach us to commit our ways unto Him and lean heavily upon Him, our Savior, "because He cares for us."

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” Psalm 37:5-6

“Commit your way” literally means to “roll your burden” and so Mr. Spurgeon urges us to:

"Roll the whole burden of life upon the Lord. Leave with Jehovah not thy present fretfulness merely, but all thy cares; in fact, submit the whole tenor of thy way to him. Cast away anxiety, resign thy will, submit thy judgment, leave all with the God of all....The ploughman sows and harrows, and then leaves the harvest to God. What can he do else? He cannot cover the heavens with clouds, or command the rain, or bring forth the sun or create the dew. He does well to leave the whole matter with God; and so to all of us it is truest wisdom, having obediently trusted in God, to leave results in his hands and expect a blessed issue."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

For Sarah...

Good day!

Today is Sarah's 17th birthday!!!! I know I can't express all the ways she blesses me daily, but I want her to know how very dear she is to me. I am so thankful for someone so like-minded that it is hard to disagree on something (and when we do it's not a problem...we don't care!). We have the same visions and passions and purposes. We share the same passion for our callings both universal and particular. Sarah is such a thoughtful and caring friend, that whenever she gets a hint of something I'm struggling with, she writes the most encouraging emails (some of them are more like epistles). We talk every Saturday (almost without fail) about everything (all the issues...think about it, think think about it). Sometimes silly stuff, family updates, community updates, the "issues", and just life! Whenever I am struggling to see God's hand, Sarah is right there to point me back to the truth and all of His gracious promises. She has shared so many burdens with me. I am so thankful that the Lord has given her to me, even though we live in different states. I am always amazed at her sunny, cheerful disposition. She works hard to maintain joy, and never fails to encourage me to be joyful.

We are approaching our tenth year of friendship, and I am thankful that the Lord has protected our friendship for so long and kept us so close. Actually, I think that since we've moved away from each other, our friendship has grown closer. The best thing to me, is that we are able to goof off and yet at the same time, we share so many of the important things that the activities we are involved in will not have any great affect on our friendship. We may change and be involved in different things, but since we've cultivated the same passions and convictions, our friendship will not be affected. I just want to say how excited I am for this new season that we are about to enter. Many changes will take place and I'm glad I have Sarah with me sharing it all.

I love Sarah so much...and I wish her a

Happy Birthday!

Her Friend,
Lily

Saturday, November 8, 2008

You've probably already seen this....

A MESSAGE FROM THE QUEEN MUM

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign
Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent
candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we
hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective
immediately. (You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English
Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical
duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas,
which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for
America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be
circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following
rules are introduced with immediate effect:

-----------------------

1. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour,'
'favour,' 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell
'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize'
will be replaced by the suffix '-ise.' Generally, you will be expected
to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').

------------------------

2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises
such as ''like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form
of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let
Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be
adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u'' and the
elimination of '-ize.'

-------------------

3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

-----------------

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns,
lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and
therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns
should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out
without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not
ready to shoot grouse.

----------------------

5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything
more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be
required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

----------------------

6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will
start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same
time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit
of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you
understand the British sense of humour.

--------------------

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been
calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

-------------------

8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French
fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling
potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut,
fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

-------------------

9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not
actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be
referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted
provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also
acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation
on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the
British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will
be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Sweat, so that all can be sold
without risk of further confusion.

---------------------

10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as
good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to
play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English
dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to
having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

---------------------

11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind
of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough
will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities
to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every
twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of
nancies).

---------------------

12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to
host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played
outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world
beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn
cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the
sting out of their deliveries.

--------------------

13.. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

-----------------

14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's
Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all
monies due (backdated to 1776).

---------------

15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with
saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and
cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!

PS: Only share this with friends who have a good sense of humour (NOT
humor)!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Caramel Pecan Fudge Brownies

So here's the recipe. I at least got one person to comment. I have to say, this recipe was grubbin'! I do NOT like nuts in anything chocolate but the brownies were so gooey and so fudgey and so....chocolate! that I didn't even taste the nuts. AND, I got lots of compliments on these. No catastrophes, no commiserating on this recipe. Enjoy!

Caramel Pecan Fudge Brownies
Fine Cooking recipe: November 2008

For the Brownies:
6 oz. (12 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into half-inch pieces; more softened for the pan
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. table salt
3 3/8 oz. (3/4 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 oz. (1/4 cup) natural cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped (OPTIONAL ;)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch baking pan.
Put the butter and chocolate in a medium heavy-duty saucepan over low heat and stir constantly until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until well blended. Gradually whisk in the sugar and then whisk vigorously until well blended. Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture, vanilla extract, and salt. Whisk in the flour and cocoa powder until blended. Stir in the pecans and then scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it into an even layer with a spatula.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 20-22 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and, if necessary, gently press down and puffed areas with a spatula to make the top level. Let cool about 5 minutes.

For the Topping:
Make the caramel first:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water

Fill a cup measure halfway with water and put a pastry brush in it; this will be used for washing down the sides of the pan to prevent crystallization.
In a heavy-duty 2-quart saucepan, stir the sugar, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup cold water. Brush down the sides of the pan with water to wash away any sugar crystals. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan, until the mixture starts to color around the edges, 5-8 minutes. Gently swirl the pan once to even out the color and prevent the sugar from burning in isolated spots. Continue to cook until the sugar turns medium amber, about 30 seconds more. (Once the mixture begins to color, it will darken very quickly, so keep an eye on it.)

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the cream -- the mixture will bubble up furiously. Once the bubbling has subsided, add the butter and gently whisk until completely melted. Whisk in teh vanilla extract and salt. Pour the caramel topping over the brownies, using a spatula to spread it evenly over the entire top Let the brownies cool on the rack for 45 minutes and then refridgerate until the caramel topping is set, at least 1 hour.

For the Garnish:
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 Tbs. heavy cream
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Combine the chocolate and heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat and stir constantly until melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate unto a small piping bag fitted with a 1/8-inch plain tip. (Or put it in a small zip-lock bag and seal the bag. Using scissors, snip off a corner of the bag to make a small hole.) Drizzle the chocolate over the brownies in a zig-zag pattern. Sprinkle the choppedd pecans over the top. Refridgerate until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

Served chilled or at room temperature. (Well-covered brownies will keep at room temperature for up to 2 days and in the refridgerator for up to 5 days.)

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

"If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land." ~ II Chronicles 7:14

"Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation." ~ Psalm 146:3

May our confidence be in Him -- the Son of man and the Son of God -- with whom there is great salvation!

For the King and His Kingdom,

Sarah for the Novelteatalkers

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Time Change


Just a quick reminder (this might just be my shortest post ever...LILY! ;) that tonight is the time change. Of course, if I don't remind you then you'll just be early to church tomorrow. But, since I know you'll enjoy an extra hour...set your clocks back tonight...and enjoy waking up when the sun is shining!

I do hope you're all having a wonderful autumn day. Enjoy some extra sleep tonight before we "come into His presence with singing" tomorrow!

For the King and the Kingdom,

Sarah

Fabulous Fall Family Fellowship Food

This weekend is our (Redeemer Presbyterian Church's) annual Fall Family Fellowship. This is my most favorite annual Redeemer event. It's nice and cool outside. All the guys play tackle football together (the ladies [and the guys when they're not killing themselves playing football] get lots of socializing done). Some of the guys play Soccer at the same time. Some people (mostly ladies) enjoy Croquet, and others prefer Botchie Ball. The little kids are so adorable dodging between different games, trying not to get hit by the croquet ball, the botchie ball, the soccer ball, the football...oh yeah, and the frisbee. I'm not kidding, we have all these games going on at one time! It's a blast-and-a-half. Besides that, the food is so yummy. We have roast turkeys every year and then everyone brings sides and drinks and desserts to go with it. I mean, this is just my favorite. You'll just have to come with me some year to really understand how much fun we have!

So, for this, my favorite annual event, I had to make something chocolate, right? Of course I did! What would be a church event if I didn't bring something chocolate? Come on! So, I made Caramel Pecan Brownies. It's a Fine Cooking recipe. The picture just looked so yummy. Now, from this chocolate lover/snob, I do realize that this recipe is contaminated with nuts...just plain contaminated. BUT, chocolate covers a multitude of sins! So, I still think they look really yummy and for all of you out there who think chocolate can somehow be enhanced by nuts, you will probably enjoy this recipe even more than I will! (the recipe is really long so I'm not gonna type it out. BUT, if you really just think this looks outstanding then you can COMMENT and I'll get to do a whole new blog post and type out the recipe for you :)

Have a great, fall day!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Reformation Day

Happy Reformation Day!

Well, 489 years ago Martin Luther nailed 95 thesis to the door of Whittenburg Cathedral. This week we carved pumpkins. We do it just for the fun of it and unfortunately, Halloween is the only time of year that pumpkins are available to carve. So, we did different fun designs. I did mine for Reformation Day and if our camera didn't mirror the image it would say "M L 95": Martin Luther, 95 Thesis. I was deteremined to keep my Reformation Day theme. I had much teasing, much laughter, much abuse but hey, so did Luther.

I do hope you are having a wonderful Reformation Day: giving thanks to our heavenly Father who cares for His people and protects His church even in very difficult times. He is very faithful to us so may we be ever-faithful to Him who has done great things for us. Luther stood at the Diet of Worms and said, "Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God." We do not stand in court rooms of men, but we do live before the world as representatives of heaven's King..."so help us God!" Praise to the Lord who keeps His promises to His godly ones and will "present us before His presence with singing!"

A Mighty Fortress is our God
by Martin Luther
from Psalm 46

A MIGHTY fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper he, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great;
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing,—
Were not the right man on our side,
The man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he,
Lord Sabaoth his name,
From age to age the same,
And he must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim,—
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure,—
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers—
No thanks to them—abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Everything

Good day,

You know, the funny thing is, I was just thinking to myself that I needed to post something when I checked Talk Time today. Thank you Sarah, for always making the time...even when I don't : ) I've not been the happiest person lately...and I never feel like writing when this is the case. Why is joy so hard to come by? Right now I feel really bogged down and agitated about a lot of things...this is neither the time nor place to go into detail...the bottom line is weariness. I'm just weary of the fight and the struggle. It's tough to be physically and emotionally tired. So this is what I'm working through right now. I think it must be time to refocus. Usually, when I get this way, it is because I've stopped looking at my Saviour, and have become too self-centered. My whole family is having to work through a lot of headaches right now, and we're at the point in the battle when you just feel like giving up. So will y'all pray that the Holy Spirit will strengthen us and teach us to be content? Most importantly, that we will be able to "count it all joy", during these trials. Contentment according to Burroughs is a gracious frame of spirit. I know that the Holy Spirit is teaching me submission, thankfulness, graciousness, and contentment right now...all the above are linked together. Sometimes this "School for Character" isn't the most pleasant place to be. :) Thankfully, our Teacher is also our Comforter, Helper, Friend and Father.

Apart from this, I've been enjoying autumn so far. It seems like we've officially entered into the season. This week has been especially cold for us this early in the season. We've had a fire burning all day some days. It takes the edge off the chilliness in our drafty house. And it's so warm, homey and comforting. I've also been running around decorating. Mommy isn't much of a seasonal decorator, so usually (except in the case of Christmas, when Sarah helps) I'm the one to make seasonal changes. I'm going to take a picture of our fireplace and mantle, which turned out okay and post it up here sometime. Oh, and I made a Apple, Pear and Cranberry crumble...so later I'll post up the recipe. It was definitely a keeper!

Later this week I'm going to post a slide-show of pictures from my parents' trip to Scotland. They were gone for 10 days, during which I stayed in the home of some good friends (thanks, Aubrey for sharing your room!) and my sister and brother were shipped off to Greenville to stay with our relatives. (I had to stay here since I teach piano and had too many other events to cancel or reschedule) It was the fastest 10 days I've had in a while. However, it was a nice break from a lot of my normal (housekeeping) activities. More of that later....

What else? I've not even covered a fraction of what is going on right now, but somehow, I feel like this is enough for now. I've committed myself to a lot of follow up posts...and Sarah's promised you one from me on The Rare Jewel. So you'll hear from me later, Lord willing.

Meanwhile...take a lesson from me and don't allow yourself to become so busy doing the things of life, that you forget why you do them and who you are doing them for. This mistake is very easy to make! So for now, I'm going to go refocus and remember my chief end.

Cheers,
Lily

What's Our Problem?

Oh yeah! Talk Time! I almost forgot!

Well, the truth is out: Lily and I are extremely busy. Yeah, it's true: busy.

I was thinking that after I didn't post for four days in a row Lily would get the clue and post something...maybe just a quote (that's always quick and easy: someone already said it for you!) But, she's busy, too. So, I suppose her philosophy is, if I continue to not post anything Sarah will "make time for what's important" and do it for me! It worked!

So, since I know all our readers have been checking the blog every day just dyin' for a quote...I have one! Of course, I do!

"Take notice not only of the mercies of God but of God in the mercies. Mercies are never so savory as when they savor of the Savior." ~ Ralph Venning

I do hope that you are all having a wonderful week. I'm sorry the blog has been slow...everything else has been busy :) Lord willing, we'll (meaning Lily!) will post something on Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment soon. We have been reading it...just not posting.

Have a great day!

"The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, they are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!"

Sarah

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Biannual Tradition, part ii

Oh, it's all just part of my blogging scheme. I posted the Biannual Tradition about Chicken and Broccoli Casserole but I didn't give you the recipe. Now, you have to comment and ask for the recipe if it really sounds "that good." And then, I get comments and I get to do another post. I really did it intentionally...not giving you the recipe, that is! But, Jessica commented and asked for the recipe so here it is:


Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

3 packages frozen broccoli OR one bunch fresh
6 whole chicken breasts, cooked
3 cans condensed cream of chicken soup (also known as Cream of Chemical Soup :)
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup white wine
3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 package crushed Ritz crackers
2 tablespoons melted butter

Arrange cooked broccoli in a greased 9x13" pan. Cut chicken in large bite-sized pieces and place over broccoli. In a medium bowl, mix together soup, sour cream, lemon juice and white wine and pour over broccoli and chicken. Sprinkle with the cheese, then the crumbs and drizzle the melted butter over top. Bake covered at 350 degrees about 1 hour until bubbly and very hot. Excellent for a crowd. Serves 10 or more.

The Blair house had a great time teasing Daddy about the food he was "avoiding" while he was gone because at Presbytery they served....Chicken and Spinach Casserole. Now, I'm sorry, maybe it's good, but that just sounds like you really wish you had some broccoli to make the right kind of casserole and you realized you didn't so you threw spinach in there to make it nutritious...but not delicious. We did get to laugh a lot this weekend over that, though ;)

I hope you're all having a great Monday!

"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
~Psalm 118:24

With much rejoicing because He is King!

Sarah