"On This Cold December Night…"

December 17th
Sitting at Six North Cafe in Chesterfield, Missouri while Timmie studies and take tests; I attempt to study Spanish…

It was the second time I had been in a church over the past year. Candlelight flickered in and out of holly boughs at the alter. And the screen above read: Jesus As Interruption. A big interruption. To my plans. To your dreams. To the world’s goals. To the life we live each day how we want to. Without looking to guidance. Without looking to praise. Without the love that is freely offered. He interrupts it. Transforms it. For Christianity is…”a story with some advice sprinkled in.” And God isn’t sending a plan…He sent Himself~to be with us. In our mess. The perfect God came out of a perfect Heaven to enter into the mess of this world and the mess of our lives. You’re interrupted if you’re worshiping God…and during the Christmas season…know that Christmas is disruptive…it’s supernatural, historical, and personal. No matter how shattered our lives may be or how little faith we have…He is here. With us. Through tragedy, through joy…He is here…in this broken world. He is our only true comfort. Even when life crashes and storms…He is the only thing that remains calm.

The Journey STL, December 16th. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVFyyGwF_zI

I have been busy! I finished up my Teaching Kids English Seminar via the TEFL INSTITUTE online. Today I started the Advanced Grammar Certification Course. I also have been cooking and baking here in Missouri with my sister. Check out a couple Gluten-Free recipes below.

Pumpkin Pie Cookies (Vegan, Grain-free)
makes 2 dozen cookies
1 cup creamy almond butter
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
optional: 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:Preheat your oven to 350F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl, and mix until a thick batter is formed. If adding the dark chocolate chips, fold them in last.

Note: Because this batter is egg-free, feel free to taste-test it at this point, and adjust the flavors to your preference.
Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, drop the batter onto the line baking sheet, and gently press each mound with a wet fork (to prevent sticking) to flatten.
Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are golden.

Panera Bread Black Bean Soup Recipe
YIELD: 8 Servings
PREP: 20 mins
COOK: 2 hrs 0 min
READY IN: 2 hrs 20 mins

1 loaf french baguette
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 cups peppers diced, I used a variety of peppers, jalapeño, bell peppers, green peppers and red, seeded.
1/2 cup yellow onion diced
2 cups tomato chopped
4 cans black beans 15.5-16 ounce cans
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp cilantro
1/2 tbsp ground pepper
1/2 tbsp salt
4 cups water

Heat the oil in a wok while dicing the peppers, onions, and tomatoes. Once wok is hot, add peppers and onions and sauté until tender. Stir in cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper, and cook another 5 to 10 minutes on low.
Add black beans, not drained, tomatoes and water and stir well. Heat on medium high until rapid boil and then reduce heat to low and let simmer another hour, stirring occasionally. Soup should thicken as it sets.
Heat bread in oven and serve with soup. Enjoy!

I’m seriously considering going a bit more gluten-free in my diet. Less ingredients and much healthier! 🙂

Advanced Grammar class..done. 98% in the class. What a great review! Thanks TEFL INSTITUTE!

December 23rd
Two days til Christmas…yesterday the siblings and I made a graham cracker mansion (gingerbread house).

Advent devotion for the day…
I love giving gifts…making gifts…or paying for a coffee, lunch, drinks, or dinner, or just sending a card in the mail…Sometimes I don’t think my gift is enough…enough expression of how much I appreciate the friendship and love the person has showed me…
Did you know that Christmas is all about presents?! Now … before the self-righteous Scrooge of your personality rears its miserly head … think about it for a minute.

Every joy-filled day of this miraculous season … every holiday cookie that is lovingly baked … every Christmas card that is hurriedly mailed is all about giving a gift. The intent of the heart is to give a gift to someone who has been a part of your life Sometimes the gift is a loving sacrifice … and at other times it is a necessary nuisance.

For some people you buy a gift because they feel that it is expected. For others, you buy a gift because you, quite simply, wouldn’t have it any other way. Many people buy gifts out of tradition or of family demands but most we buy out of heart-felt love. We give because we care and long to express a small piece of our heart.
Heaven gave every person in every generation the greatest Gift of all. The Bible says, “A Child has been born for us!” Imagine the miracle of that gift … just drink in the joy that God gave the gift of His Son for you!

The first Christmas, over 2000 years ago, was all about presents! It was about a Gift that came from heaven with your name on it … with love, from God! It wasn’t wrapped in expensive red paper and tied with a bow of gold, but it was a gift personally chosen for you just the same.

It was a present that Someone knew you were unable to live without. He knew that this particular Gift would change your life forever.

The gift has been given … a Baby in a manger. The Bible says that “God so loved the world that He gave His Son … His only Son!” When you love somebody … you just have to give! God loved you enough to give you what you wanted most of all: unconditional love and a never-ending song in your heart.

Will you receive heaven’s gift this year? The gift has already been given and is yours to receive. It is the gift of a Father to His child. It is a gift that will guarantee heaven’s entrance into all of your circumstances, and a gift that will ensure your entrance into the joy of heaven.

Culture shock during Christmas= a high strung and frustrated me. Frustrated with consumerism. Frustrated that not everyone sees what I see. Tears and words of hurt and misunderstanding flood around me this season. So happy on the outside, but on the inside…crying from missing moods, rich foods, and not knowing how to explain myself. Yeah, maybe I should suck it up…because I am in America and did miss things while I was away, but now the level doesn’t seem so concerning anymore and I could be anywhere, but here right now. Even though happiness abounds all around me being home and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be here…my mind wanders to Christmas last year abroad. Such mixed emotions…too many for one to deal with in one day…but as the Jenga game builds, one small block causes the gates to break and the the blocks to crash down for no apparent reason other than the wrong block was touched…was bumped. So in the next couple days I’m really going to try hard to really be joyful. To reserve my misunderstandings and frustrations for another day…and to celebrate the true reason for this season.
plotting the fountain

Jake’s guilty…i swear i’m not eating the frosting…

drifting snow…

graham cracker mansion


sometimes we get along… 😉

frost covered trees after the first snow

my beautiful friend asked me to take
Christmas card pictures…
what a wonderful couple!!!

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