Thursday, November 27, 2014

eXpEcT a LaTTe (lot eh' ?)

Expect a Latte (lot eh'?)

Are you satisfied? Is your soul content? To answer the ponder, I personally have to define lines. The vague and often crossed lines between genuinely satisfied and merely gratified. They are enemies of one another that somehow, often mimic one another. Enemies, because the state of being gratified has often become a substitute for the true state of being sAtiSfiEd. A substitute that can prevent us from discovering the peace that comes from satisfaction and leaves us thirsty for more. If we aren't careful, we can fill ourselves with ways that gratify and never experience deep satisfaction.

Haiti is one of my favorite places on earth. On my last mission trip there,  I remember landing on the runway and declaring "I love this ugly country." It's quite odd that a place others would recognize immediately as ugly, sad, impoverished, stinky... is a place so dear and precious to my heart. This time of year, I always feel the deep longing to be there as I revisit the country and it's people in my mind.

After a visit to the third-world country of Haiti, it's an odd adjustment to American life that usually begins in the airport on the edge of Miami. My eyes slowly adjust from heart wrenching visions of a country in need, to one soaking in all things desired. After seeing the literal depths of need in one of the most poverty-striken countries in the world, something happens. I recognize our depths of gratification with dissatisfaction in one of the most prosperity-stricken countries in the world. It is a rocky transition that leaves me annoyed with myself. I'm part of a nation that is gratified, however remains constantly searching for more.

Why, if our people have minimal need and abundant ability, are we so dissatisfied? Proof of this reality is in the pudding:

*According to the Centers for Disease Control, anti-depressants are taken by 1 in 10 Americans age 12 and over. "From 1988-1994 through 2005-2008 the rate of antidepressant use in the U.S increased almost 400%". ( NCHS Data Brief)

Ouch.! Apparently, gratified doesn't equal sAtIsFiEd. It may be that our self-drive expectations may be impacting our state of mind. Is it possible that our desires of gratification are a little higher than healthy and when those are not met, we are left soaking in disappointment?

Simple mathematics:
Expectation > Ability = Dissatisfied

I'll be the first to declare I think we have some high expectations.  The addiction to having our desires met, leads to a constant state of living dissatisfied and in pursuit of what next can gratify.  Leading to disappointed, discontented...and at its worst, depressed.

It could be that we expect a latte (lot 'eh).  A simple revelation, revealed through a cup of joe upon the return of my last trip to Haiti. I was sipping on a custom-made latte as I piffled through a local retail store. It was the type of espresso drink that has a title and stipulations longer than any headline of the local newspaper. But I noticed that all my requests to make this cup my blissful beginning of the day, had not been granted.

My perfect drink, was not so perfect. My custom prepared espresso concoction was missing some components that I "expected" in order to make this sipping perfection. Missing this. Not enough of that. My stipulations of desire were met with a load of disappointment. I was unsatisfied because I was ungratified.

Let me put the point simply. Haitians don't expect lattes. The people of Haiti wake every day expecting the same thing.
There is no expectation of anything they will not receive that could render them in sulking disappointment. But here is the beautiful result. They live in a state of grateful thinking. Their expectations leave wide open room to recognize a gift, a blessing, a graced goodness for what it is. Then, thankful hearts begin to be overflowed with gratitude.

Hand a resident of Haiti a latte, and they surely wouldn't make special demands to their liking. They'd be quite grateful of the gift. Their satisfaction doesn't come from the gratifying of desires.

See the neon sign?  If we require the gratification of desires in order to feel satisfied, we have still yet to place hands on the source of satisfaction.  In other words, many people there could respond with the words of Paul. " I have learned in whatever state I am in, to be content". (Phillipians 4:11). The apostle Paul of shipwreck, imprisonment and multiple beatings, knew the fine art of contentment.

Do we? Or do we live in the opposite state of discontent because our expectations are so high? Do we expect a latte (lot 'eh) that leaves us unsatisfied?

Could it be that the discontent epidemic for Americans is somewhat self-induced? That we've become a tad bit demanding in our expectations? Even on the cliff of self centered.

I've never seen more hopeless glares from human souls as I did in a single glance in Haiti. The look of "nothing expected" was common. But, I highly doubt any of them would raise hand high if asked who was depressed.

When we begin to have expectations of what should be, we live in a state of measure to that misconception. Expecting everything in our path to measure to the standard we have placed on it. Then, when occurrences or circumstances don't meet those criteria, we find ourselves let down and never contented. We succeed to a constant state of discontent and self centered pursuit when we have persistent expectations driven by our self-centered needs of being gratified. We live from one gratified receipt to another... and never reach genuine contentment. Gratification is a substitute for the deficiency of being truly satisfied. It is a type of stand in or filler, on behalf of true contentment. Are we settling for the fulfillment of our driven wants and missing out on fulfillment of a greater kind?

Notice there is no gratitude in the earlier equation of the American thinker. No gratitude because we expect through entitlement, what we may receive. The sad result is obsolete gratefulness for anything gifted. If its expected, it's surely not a gift. A different mindset than those who live in constant recognition of the graceful hand of the providing God.

In all our prosperity, we have neglected to get something right, that most of Haiti has crafted perfectly. They have learned as Paul did, to be content. We can pursue satisfaction with the never ending and lesser substitute of having our desires to be gratified. Or we can find pure and perfect satisfaction in El Shaddai. The one of whom is said ..." you open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing." (Psalms 145:16)

Where will we find satisfaction? Only in the hand of El Shaddai, God, a.k.a the all-sufficient Satisfier (Genesis 17:1). When we leave our portion and expectations in His hands, He provides as He knows best. And when He does, we can gratefully praise Him for His gifts.

Could we have more desires than God's ability to offer? Nope. But it is likely we have more desires than He is willing to spoil us with. It is accurate and shuttering to envision that we smack the hand of the Almighty and reject His goodness, in place of our own expectant desires. We re-live the days of the Israelites when we are found murmuring at our gifts. As they murmured at not having food, then again complained when God rained manna from heaven... because it was not what they expected. Are we as adults, pitching fits because, we don't receive what it is we selfishly aspire for?

Pure, perfect and true satisfaction is found In the hand of the El Shaddai. If you know The Satisfier personally, you have continual access to a "fountain of living water" that purely and perfectly satisfies. When we make El Shaddai our source of satisfaction, we will easily declare with Paul and those who are gratefully satisfied...
"In whatever condition I am in, I am content".

Scripture References:
Psalms 145:16
Phillipians 4:11
Genesis 17:1
Resource for statistics:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Podcasts Now Available !

The podcast for "The StOnE" is now available! 

Check it out at

You can also reach the site by clicking individual podcast titles on the right side of my blog page, under "Blooming by GrAcE Ministries Podcasts".

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Choco-Cherry Fluff Dessert

Choco-Cherry Fluff Dessert

The white fluff in this dessert could be eaten by shovel fulls!  It's not too sweet, not too cream cheese tasting... fluffy perfection!  Super simple to ensemble and no baking required. We always use cherry filling but any kind would be good on top. I want to try strawberry!

What Ya Need:
* 1 Can pie filling (you will have leftover)
* 22-25 double sided sandwich cookies.
   I used the kind with vanilla on one side and      chocolate on the other
* 4 Tbsp butter

Fluffy Filling:
Depending on your sweet tooth, you can make half or full portion.  I would totally make a full portion, which would double this recipe. You can save some to dip any thing into the fluff!

* 1/2 block of cream cheese
* 1 container cool whip (half will be used)
* 1/3 cup + 2 heaping Tbsp powdered sugar
* 1 tsp vanilla
* 2 Tbsp cream ( use heavy, light or coffee creamer that is not special flavored but sweet)

What Ya Do:
1)Grab a 9x9 glass pan. No need to spray with oil.
2) Open and scoop out filling of sandwich cookies into a bowl.
3) Crush cookies by pressing with a meat tenderizer.
4) Melt butter and pour into crumbs.
5) Pour and level crumbs with your hand. Press firmly.
6) Place in the freezer while preparing the fluff.
7) Cream the cream cheese.
8) Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Cream until blended.
9)  Add the cream (light or heavy) and mix.
10) Spoon in half container of whipped topping.
11) Mix shortly on lo speed until just incorporated.
Do not mix on high speed or too long after adding whipped topping.  It will break down in the mixture.
12) Pull crust pan from freezer and spoon fluff. Even out with a spatula.
13) Add 3/4 can pie filling to top. I think the whole can is too much, so I had a 1/4 remaining.

***If you need a larger portion,  I'm thinking that using a 9×13 pan and doubling ingredients would work. That way you could use the whole container of whipped topping, the cream cheese and the can of pie filling.

Have fun and enjoy the Choco-Cherry fluff!

** fluff is similar to the filling No Bake Apple Delight from Six Sisters' Stuff. Their recipe for Apple delight is awesomeness!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Caramel Apple Muddy Mix

Caramel Apple Muddy Mix

This is a perfect pick for snacking on Thanksgiving Day! Munch your way between turkey and dressing!

I think it's fairly simple to put together. The only part that requires a little work are the muddy buddies.  They are s treat in themselves... caramel Apple Muddy Buddies!   We can do that recipe first.

Caramel Apple Muddy Buddies

What Ya Need:

* 8 cups square rice cereal
* 2 packages of powdered caramel Apple spiced cider drink powder
* 6 blocks of vanilla flavored bark
* 2/3 cup powdered sugar

What Ya Do:
* Melt vanilla bark
* Coat the rice cereal in melted bark
* Mix in large freezer bag or bowl, powdered sugar and cider mix
* Toss covered cereal mix
* Make sure all pieces are covered well in the chocolate and the sugar mixture
* Spread on wax paper until dry

These are great fall treat just to snack on, but if you want more of a party mix, then throw in the rest.

Mix and Shake:
* Muddy Buddies
* Pretzels (1/2 bag)
*1 box caramel covered popcorn
* Popcorn plain
* 2 bags dried apple chips
* 2 selections of Caramel chocolate candy:  rolo, milky way, milk duds...
* Fall colored chocolate balls/ candy

Monday, November 3, 2014

MoNsTeR MeRinGuEs


I have only attempted meringues once before and they were not a success.  This time, I discovered the awesome fun these little treats are!These are crazy fun and the kiddos love them!  I wanted to do something different for my son, Keebryn's fall festival class party, so meringues made their way into my mind :)

My Niece,  Teah wanted monster cupcakes for her last B-day, so she researched and found some cute ones. We piped some awesome hair on those babies last August. But I didn't want to do cake, so why not meringues.?  I was very afraid the idea in my mind would not work... but they turned out cute!
I started with a very simple meringue recipe and went from there with colors, piping spikes and eyeballs!  The funny thing that happened was my mistake in adding Kool aid to the purple and green ones... waayyy to much sour!  But I have to say, it's a perfect way to play a joke on someone if u I u want to send them running to the trash can.
So this recipe will be for the regular vanilla flavor of the orange ones.  The color is achieved by food coloring.  Let's get going with these.

What Ya Need:

Meringue recipe of any kind.   You can find a recipe for meringues just about anywhere.   I found some on the internet, my old cookbooks and the back of powdered egg whites.  You can make meringues using your own egg whites or from powdered egg whites found in the baking section of grocers. The final recipe I used was from the can of powdered egg whites and is below.

To Create the Meringues:
Recipe found on the can of Deb El Just Whites

* 3 Tbsp Powdered egg whites
* 1/2 Cup Warm Water
* 1/2 Cup powdered sugar
* 1 tsp. Vanilla flavoring
* 1/4 tsp cream of tarter

Mixing the Meringues:
1) Mix water and powdered egg whites until clumps are gone, using a fork.
2) Allow to sit until dissolved.
3) Pour into mixer and beat at medium speed until  peaks begin forming.
4) Add vanilla and cream of tarter.  Mix
4) Add sugar in 4 portions and mix on high between each addition.
5) Whip until very stiff peaks form. About 5-7 minutes.

Now let's begin the MoNsTeRs!!

What Ya Need:
* Neon Food Colors
    (Lime green, orange, purple, black)
* Piping Bags or storage bags (5)
* Parchment paper
* Three piping tips... Star tip, large round tip and grass tip.

What Ya Do:
1) Prepare your piping bag with round tip and grab your coloring.
2) Prep a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
3) Preheat oven 220 degrees.
4) Take 1/3 of meringue and color in a bowl. Add to piping bag.
5) Pipe a blob appx. 3/4 inch circumference.
6) Repeat for 15-20 cookies.
7) Now pipe spikes with round tip on top and sides.
8) Repeat by coloring two remaining portions and piping blobs.
9) Each color will require round large tip for the base, but use the star and grass tips to create monster spikes.
9) Squeeze and pull up!! It's that easy.
10) When all have been piped, slide into oven for 2 hours.

Meantime, work on the eyeballs because they require some drying/ hardening time. Eyes made with royal icing. Use your own recipe or the one I've used forever in my old cake decorating days :)  Found this recipe on net somewhere and made minor adjustment by omiting flavoring and halfjng the portion. It works well.

To Create the Eyeballs:

What Ya Need:
* 1 Tbsp. powdered egg whites
* 1/2 box powdered sugar
* 2.5 - 3 Tbsp warm water
* two piping bags and small round tip

(Royal Icing Recipe online)
1) Mix powdered egg whites and powdered sugar. Add water by tablespoons.
2) Mix on medium speed wile scraping sides apx. 4 minutes.  They are ready when the mixture is very white and thick like elmers glue.
3) Spoon 2/3 white royal icing in bag with small round tip.
4) Pipe different sized white dots on to wax or parchment paper.
5) Allow to dry apx. 30 minutes
6) Save the white icing in bag to make a glue.
7) Color remaining royal icing, black.
8) Place in piping bag and use smaller round tip to pipe centers to the white circles.
9) These should dry within 2-3 hours.


When meringues are hardened and cooking time is complete, pull them from the oven and let them cool.
The eyeballs should be hardened by this time.
Using royal icing, pipe small dot on meringues and place an eyeball, or two. .. or three!!

Now go make some kiddo's day!!!!